San Marino – Micro-State Massive Views

San Marino – Micro-State Massive Views

San Marino might be the smallest Republic in the world at 62 sq k but it punches well above its weight where ridiculously spectacular views are concerned.  I took a day trip from Bologna to see what surprises the third smallest state in Europe had in store.  I wasn’t disappointed and, be warned, the camera went into overdrive!

Guaita tower, San MarinoFrom Bologna I took the train to Rimini and from there the bus to San Marino.  The bus climbed higher and higher as the road twisted upwards – Mount Titano towers 739 metres above sea level and my ears actually popped on the way up.  I knew for sure I’d arrived in a new country when my mobile pinged a ‘Welcome to San Marino’ text – cool!

We arrived at the coach park and as I climbed off the bus I turned and caught a glimpse of the first of the day’s views – the sun was shining, it was a clear day and miles and miles of lush green Emilia Romagna countryside stretched ahead before rolling into the distant Apennines.  Just gorgeous!

The view from San MarinoI tore myself away from the epic panorama and made my way upwards towards the town; I only had a few hours and wanted to see as much as possible of this tiny enclave bordered on all sides by Italy.

Mount Titano is a balcony of rock offering a panoramic view of the Upper Marecchia Valley and Montefeltro across to the Romagna coastline and the Adriatic which I soaked up as I walked the boundary of the city.

The view from San Marino  to Rimini's Coast

San Marino Stamp of Approval

First stop was the tourist office where I got a brand new and very pretty ‘San Marino’ stamp in my passport and a new country chalked up on the list.  San Marino is big on postage stamps and claims to have one of the the best postal systems in the world so drop into the Post Office if you’re a collector and take home some stamps and a San Marino Euro coin – both collectors’ items.

San Marino Passport Stamp

San Marino Passport Stamp

 

San Marino Old Town

Onwards and upwards I climbed through San Marino’s criss-crossing steep streets to the old town centre on the top of Mount Titano, a full 750m above sea level.  It’s closed to traffic and contained within medieval stone walls.  The old town is full of welcoming cafes, street artists and boutiques selling handbags, clothes, ceramics and, surprisingly, firearms and knives. Banks are plentiful – San Marino is one of the wealthiest countries per head with a population of just 30,000.   Many goods are tax-free so the shopping attracts tourists on the hunt for bargains.  The prices for food and drink were reasonable and  lunch was a tasty ham and cheese piadina (flatbread) with a beer for €4.50.

The Guaita Tower

The high point of my visit were the fortresses of San Marino; turreted, castellated, fairytale towers reaching skywards into the bluest of skies and linked by a winding path that runs the entire ridge of the mountain.  The towers were built to protect the small state from Emilia Romagna’s Malatesta family and the first and oldest tower, Guaita, is surrounded by two circles of city walls one of which can be walked.  The tower was originally a watchtower and housed prisoners right up until the 1970s.

The pathway connecting the towers “Passo delle streghe” means Passage of the Witches – more than appropriate in this fairytale scene but sinister in that it’s where those accused of being witches were hanged. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see winged monkeys in little blue waistcoats swooping down on me Wizard of Oz style from the castle atop the craggy rock had the day been dark and overcast.  But it wasn’t and the blue skies were the perfect backdrop.

Cesta Tower, San Marino

The Cesta Tower

The pathway is the one of the best places to photograph both the first and second towers and has some of the most gorgeous countryside views.  But the view from the top of Cesta back to Guaita is the one that totally took my breath away.  It’s possible to climb right into the roof of this tower although you’ll need to negotiate a steep step-ladder and a small trap-hatch but the views back to Guaita Tower from the lookout windows are worth the effort. Stunning.  The Armoury Museum containing weaponry and armour is housed in the Cesta Tower.

Guaita tower, San MarinoAbove a picture postcard shot of Guaita Tower seen from the top of Cesta Tower and below Cesta Tower seen from the “Passo delle streghe”

Cesta Tower, San MarinoI became so entranced by the views that I totally lost track of the time and had to dash back to the bus park missing a stop at the Houses of Parliament, Palazzo Pubblico and the third, smallest, tower.  I’d love to have had more time to spend in San Marino the tiny state with the big, big views and if I return I’ll definitely stay for sunset which I’m told is spectacular.  Can you even begin to imagine?

View from Guaita Tower, San MarinoHow to get there:  Trains don’t go to San Marino so the easiest way to visit is to take the Bonelli bus from Rimini’s train station.  The ride takes about 50 minutes and costs €4 each way.  Get your ticket opposite the railway station just to the right of Burger King.    You can do this as a day trip from Bologna, as the train from Bologna to Rimini takes 60-90 minutes and costs €10-20 depending on the speed – allow yourself at least 4 hours in San Marino itself.

How much: Combined entry to Guaita and Cesta Towers is €4.50

For more information check out the Visit San Marino website.

The apartment in Bologna was provided by the Emilia-Romagna Tourism Board as part of the #BlogVille campaign created by iAmbassador. As always views and opinions – good, bad or otherwise – are entirely my own.

47 Comments

  1. Whoo-hoo! Top of the world! :) I still have the stamps somewhere.
    We had small boy grumbling all the way up the hill with us. He was a mad keen Schumacher fan in those days and I think he expected to see the red Ferarri nipping round one of those corners!

    Reply
    • There are some very nice cars in that neck of the woods but I didn’t see any Ferarris either! Hope you’re looking forward to a lovely Easter Jo :)

      Reply
  2. San Marino looks fantastic, Suzanne. I’m curious if it felt as though it was still inhabited by locals going about their business, or if has more of a “museum town” feel? Either way, it’s beautiful and I hope we get a chance to make it there soon.

    Reply
    • Hi Tricia – local business was going on catering to tourist needs but there are many banks in San Marino which are frequented by those looking for tax breaks.

      Reply
  3. Wow that’s a stunning landscape – lucky you! “Passage of the Witches” I suppose being hung to that view is marginally better than burning at the stake!

    Reply
  4. San Marino looks so beautiful. And probably not as difficult to get to as I thought. Mind you, either way I think it must be worth the trip!

    Reply
    • It’s very easy to get to from Rimini – a bit more of a trek from Bologna which didn’t leave me as much time as I’d have liked – just a few hours. Well worth a visit though :)

      Reply
  5. Terrific photos Suzanne! Your travelogue makes me want to pack my bags now :-)

    Reply
    • Thanks Madhu – it’s been amazing! Two more work trips coming up and then I need a rest over Christmas to catch up with writing :)

      Reply
  6. Wow, 62 sq k, now that is tiny and what a climb to get there. But definitely worth the ear-popping trip as the views are absolutely stunning. ;)

    Reply
    • A totally gorgeous little place with more than a few big views :)

      Reply
  7. Spectacular views! I loved your photos and the vivid descriptions made me feel as if I were there! On my list of places to visit!

    Reply
  8. Wonderful looking the tower at the top of the hill! All photos are absolutely beautiful..
    such a remarkable tour, thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  9. It looks like a marvelous place that is well worth a visit! I saw it from a distance and now I know I have to go there sometime soon… :)

    Reply
    • It’s such a lovely little place – I think you’d really like it Meg ;0

      Reply
  10. Absolutely breathtaking pictures, specially of the towers. I had been under the impression that technically Vatican is the smallest nation.

    Shakti

    Reply
    • Yes it iis San Marino is the 3rd smallest after Vatican and Monaco :)

      Reply
    • Hi just checked again and San Marino is the small republic and the third smallest state :)

      Reply
  11. I’ve never been. It looks so romantic and cute, I’ve now added it to my growing list of places to see. Thanks for the virtual tour. :)

    Reply
  12. Thanks Suzanne! Next time do not miss the sunset! :-)
    Truly inspiring and magical…

    Reply
  13. Absolutely beautiful photos! It seems like quite the enchanting republic. I am intrigued with your photos of Guaita Tower. San Marino has officially been added to my itinerary for my next trip to Italy!

    Reply
    • The views are breathtaking – enchanting it definitey is. Let me know when you get there I’d love to see what you think :)

      Reply
  14. Looks a bit special – are there many hotels there if people want to stay the night?

    Reply
  15. These photos are wonderful! You’re fantastic! <3

    Reply
  16. I was there so many years ago that I can’t even remember how I got there, Suze (or is that just my advancing senility?) I do remember it being a pretty spot with lofty views, and the postage stamps too. Sunset would be inspirational- I would definitely remember that!
    You’re definitely a few holidays behind with the blog now. Nothing for it, you’ll have to give up work :)

    Reply
    • Trouble is blogging doesn’t pay the bills Jo and there’s not enough hours in the day! I’ll be working for a good many years yet :)
      I’d have loved to have stayed for a sunset in San Marino.

      Reply
      • I know, hon- and truthfully, your life’s not so bad, is it? (understatement of the year but I’m full of admiration at the amount you do fit in, Suze) :)

      • I have a lovely life Jo, I’m very lucky and very grateful :)

  17. I’ve been looking forward to this post and it didn’t disappoint. What a magical place and lovey photographs. I do hope I get to visit there one day, it looks enchanting.

    Reply
    • I didn’t have enough time there and I’d love to see the sunset over the hills from there so I’ll tag along too please!

      Reply
      • Probably to Rimini – and I know a bus that’ll get there from Rimini… ;)

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