San Marino: a country within a country

Ciao Belli!

How are you?

When I was a child -at the age of 7- I received my 1st atlas. I still have it and I loved it. 

I was always passionate about geography and that book helped me to travel with my imagination. 

I was equally interested into big countries like Canada, USA and Russia as well as very small one. Tiny countries really intrigued me, so when I realized that Italy was the ONLY country in the world with 2 independent states land-locked within the national borders I was super excited!

Today we are going to discover the oldest republic in the world and one of the smallest countries on Earth. With only 61.2 km2 (23.6 sq mi) and less than 35,000 inhabitants, let’s approach San Marino Republic! 

Are you ready?




The entire state is covered by the Apennine mountain range, and it has a rugged terrain. 

The highest point is Monte Titano, 739 mt (2,425 ft)

According to tradition, this small country was founded in 301 AD by Marinus the Dalmatian. 

He was a Christian stonemason who was fleeing the persecution of Christians by Roman Emperor Diocletian. Marinus hit on the top of Mount Titano and founded a small community there. The country was named San Marino after his name.

Originally San Marino was just Mount Titano, however in 1463 as the result of an alliance against the Lord of Rimini (a nearby town), the Pope awarded the country with the cities of Montegiardino, Serravalle, and Fiorentino. Another town, Faetano, joined later that same year.

On 8 October 1600 the first written Constitution was promulgated.

In 1797 the nation was recognized by Napoleon’s France. Napoleon who appreciated the long tradition of freedom and independence of this small state, offered it “access to the sea” which was wisely refused; this allows the Republic not to become an ally of France in the Congress of Vienna where Napoleon was politically defeat. 

During the Risorgimento, San Marino constituted a refuge for many people who took part in the events that led to the unification of Italy. San Marino played a fundamental role for Garibaldi: he found refuge on Mount Titano in 1849, when on his way to Venice, he found himself close by four armies in Macerata Feltria. Garibaldi crossed the borders of San Marino and personally asked for asylum guaranteeing that San Marino would have been independent and safe from armed clashes.


Today, San Marino’s constitution provides for a parliamentary style of government.

The Great and General Council counts 60 members elected every five years. It is headed by two captains-regent, who are elected every six months and act as heads of state for that period.

As an independent state, San Marino has its own military, one of the smallest in the world! The fascinating tradition of the changing of the guard is kept from April to September, every half hour from 8am to 6pm at the Palazzo Pubblico.

Banks, financial services and tourism are the main source of economy.


San Marino boasts a wide range of museums… from traditional paintings to more quirky collections! Highlights include the State Museum (large collection of paintings, coins and archeological objects), San Francesco Museum (16th century paintings), Museum of Ancient Arms, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Wax Museum, Torture Museum (creepy!), Museum of Curious Objects and the Ferrari and Abarth Museum.

And don’t forget to do some shopping here!

San Marino’s shopping culture is surprisingly impressive. 

Goods in the republic are “tax-free” so many products are cheaper than in Italy. 

Shops across the country are open every day of the week, and remain busy, especially during the peak tourist season. It’s famous for several products, including ceramics, stamps, collectable coins, and iron objects. Shops are generally stand-alone venues, located along the street of the old town. However, outside the city center, you can find several shopping malls and markets.

Whether as a day trip or weekend getaway, San Marino is easily reached from central Italian cities like Rimini (30 mins), Bologna (1.5 hours) and Florence (2.5 hours) by bus or rental car.

Enjoy the video.

Un bacio.


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