San Marino: 4th March 2023

WHERE IS SAN MARINO? Surrounded by Italy, San Marino is one of 24 recognised microstates in the world (i.e. a sovereign state where the population and/or land mass is very small).   The capital city of San Marino is San Marino though it feels far more like a small hilly town.

WHAT LANGUAGES  ARE SPOKEN THERE AND WHAT'S THE CURRENCY? The official language is Italian and the Euro is the currency.

3 INTERESTING FACTS: 1) It's the 5th smallest country in the world at under 24 square miles. 2) Due to its remoteness, it's regarded to be the least visited country in Europe. 3) This moutainous country hosted the Grand Prix for 25 years up  until 2006. 

HOW TO GET THERE? San Marino is not an easy place to get to but meticulous planning helped to make my journey as straightforward as possible. Essentially, the easiest way is to take a train or flight to the city of Rimini and then the bus to San Marino which runs roughly every 75 minutes although there's a 2.5 hour gap over lunchtime when the buses stop, at least in the spring. Exiting Rimini station, don't head to the bus station ticket office but cross the road to the Tabaccheria where you can buy a single ticket (costs 6 Euros). You can pay only with cash. With ticket in hand, head down the road (1-2 minute walk) to Hotel Napoleon which is on the same side of the road as the Tabaccheria and where you'll find the bus stop very clearly marked. The bus snakes its way through various towns and reaches the capital city San Marino in about 50 minutes. I'd stayed in Bologna as I was also visiting Florence and Pisa so I'd stay at one of its hotels.

WHAT DID I DO AND WHAT DID I THINK? I always preface these sections by saying that my whirlwind visits don't even touch on what these destinations have to offer and I was there for such a short amount of time. Top of my list was to get a passport stamp from the tourist office situated in Piazza Sant'Agata (for 5 Euros). It's a hilly city with cobblestone streets and surprisingly icy when I went but the walk up is well worth it to see the stunning views. Nearly all year round, there's a cable car that goes from Borgo Maggiore up to San Marino. Much of my 1.5 hours was spent soaking up the almost fairy-tale vibe (a bit like Mont St. Michel in France) and to wander around the shops but I also picked what's probably the best restaurant to go to if you're after a view - La Terrazza Ristorante - just up from the tourist office.

Would I go again? In theory, yes, there was a real calmness to the place but it wasn't the easiest place to get to and it didn't help that my train had broken down! But knowing it's the least visited European country, getting that passport stamp feels like a bit of an achievement! 

La Terrazza Ristorante