San Marino Vacations
San Marino is officially known as the Most Serene Republic of San Marino. It is one of the world smallest states, being landlocked and totally surrounded by Italy. San Marino is said to be the world’s oldest republic. It lies near the Adriatic coast in central Italy, between the borders of the Emilia-Romagna and Le Marche regions. Italian is the official language and travel through San Marino doesn’t require a passport. However traveling to and from Rimini by the bus is described as international travel. Despite its Italian character, San Marino is very proud of its independent status, which is its biggest tourist appeal. Within this 24 square mile republic, boasting a population of about 32,000 people, San Marino has its own football team, military force and official postage stamps.
San Marino often is described as the world’s oldest sovereign state and constitutional republic since being founded on September 3rd 30 by the stone cutter, Marinus of Arba. He was a Dalmatian stone-mason who sought refuge there after fleeing religious persecution. The steep craggy ridge of Monte Titano is certainly a good defensive stronghold. Whatever the truth of its founding, by the Middle Ages San Marino became one of the many autonomous states, covering Italy like a patchwork. Through diplomacy, luck, and possibly a lack of strategic importance, only San Marino managed to hang onto its independence through the centuries, even opting out when Italy was unified in the nineteenth century.
The territory of San Marino spreads for several miles around the capital, which is also called San Marino. The largest city, however, is Dogoma. San Marino the town is what most tourists come to see, though, and it is an impressive citadel. It is high above the coastal plains, with three fortresses perched atop a giddying cliff. Monte Titano is 750m above sea level, so be prepared for winds and a cooler temperature than on the plains below. As its name, “Most Serene Republic of San Marino,” implies, the tiny republic of San Marino is a green oasis, the perfect place to relax and enjoy the tranquil surroundings. Complete with unspoiled land, rolling hills, wineries, and fortresses, San Marino is a great and less crowded alternative to the Tuscan countryside. Although the steep slopes, cliffs and castles of San Marino are impressive enough themselves, what really takes your breath away is the view from the town. On a clear day you can see the Adriatic a few miles to the east, and in other directions the hilly land rises into central Italy. It’s possible to make out small hill-top villages and other, less lofty, castles and fortresses, commanding their own small green patches of territory. On a clear day, you can even steal a view of the nearby Riviera Romagnola beaches.
Anecdotes and Interesting Facts
Post Office – San Marino’s postage history can be traced as far back as October 7th, 1607, with the introduction of the public postal service. Back then, the republic’s postal needs were handled by the nearby post office in Rimini. In 1833, San Marino opened its first post office. On March 7th, 1877, San Marino signed an agreement with Italy to issue its own stamps. San Marino’s first postage stamps were a definitive edition consisting of two designs with seven denominations. They depicted the three towers of San Marino at Monte Titano. Over the years, the attractive designs of the stamps have been sought after by philatelists all over the world. It is estimated that 10% of San Marino’s revenue is generated by the sale of postage stamps to international collectors.
Three Towers – Guaita, Cesta and Montale Tower are the most famous sights in San Marino. When exactly the first of the three fortress towers, known as Rocca or Guaita, was built, is unknown. Construction presumably began in the 10th century. The Guaita consists of the central fortress tower and two rings of walls. The outer ring adorned with battlements is a remnant of the original defensive wall. The numerously renovated defensive fortification gained particular significance in the 15th century, when San Marino was at war with the Malatesta family from Rimini. The Guaita was used as a prison until the early 1970s. Today, artillery pieces, which originate from endowments by the Italian kings Viktor Emanuel II and Viktor Emanuel III, are kept in the tower. Volleys are fired from them on important holidays. The second fortress, Cesta or Fratta, was built in the first half of the 13th century and was renovated multiple times before being restored to its original look in 1925. Located on Monte Titano, at an altitude of 755 meters, the Cesta was erected on the ruins of a former Roman fort. The second circle’s defensive walls date back to the 15th century. Remarkable, as with the other two fortress towers, is the very rare pentagonal layout of the central keep. Today, the Cesta is home to the Museum of Historical Weapons, a museum dedicated to the medieval era. Armors, swords and other weaponry from the long forgotten feudal times to the 19th century are on display. Opinions differ when it comes to the use of the third fortress tower, the Montale. Presumably built at the beginning of the 14th century, it is assumed that the fortification was meant to allow inspection of the erstwhile, no longer existing trenches carved into the rock. Montale was also used as a prison. It is furthermore assumed that the fortress tower was meant to protect from the Malatesta family invasion. It wasn’t needed and, thus, finished when this danger ceased to exist. After having been abandoned for centuries, the Montale was restored 1935.
Tax free Shopping
One attractive advantage of San Marino is that shopping is tax free. It’s no wonder that for such a small republic, you will find hundreds of popular products from all over Italy and the rest of the world in the many shopping plazas. Whether you are looking for the latest Italian designer brand or that souvenir you will always remember, San Marino has it. Huge malls like the Atlante and Azzurro compete with the San Marino Factory outlet for your tourist dollar.
Sammarinese food is mostly Mediterranean, emphasizing farm fresh and locally grown produce, pasta, and meat. Although it is similar to that of the Italian Romagna region, the cuisine of San Marino features its own typical dishes. Traditional recipes include faggioli con le cotiche, a dark bean soup flavored with bacon and traditionally prepared at Christmas time; pasta e cece, a soup of noodles and chickpeas flavored with garlic and rosemary; and nidi di rondine, directly translated as “swallow’s nest”, a dish of pasta with smoked ham, cheese, beef, and a tomato sauce, which is then covered with a white sauce and baked in the oven. Roast rabbit with fennel is also a popular Sammarinese dish. Other popular local dishes include bustrengo, a cake made with raisins; cacciatello, a mixture of milk and eggs; and zuppa di ciliege, cherries stewed in red wine and sugar and served on local bread. San Marino also produces high quality wines, the most famous of which are the Sangiovese, a strong red wine; and the Biancale, a dry white wine. There are many small family-owned restaurants, often providing outdoor seating in the summer, providing a good atmosphere to socialize.
San Marino boasts a wide range of museums for all types of enthusiasts. For those into the traditional sights and artifacts of Sammarinese History, look no further than the The State Museum. Locally known as Muse di Stato, is an important part of the country’s tourism industry. This museum was built in the 19th century, and inaugurated in 1899. However, it went through a significant make-over in the 1990s, and reopened in 2001. The collections inside the museum include archeological finds from the San Marino Middle Ages period, various paintings, ancient coins, donated archeological finds from Egypt, and different art pieces from around Italy. St. Francis Museum, built in the 14th century is also a must see for art lovers. As part of the Franciscan Monastery, the museum houses some of the most fascinating and beautiful art pieces in San Marino. Known more for paintings, there is also an impressive collection of sculpted art as well as photographic pieces. Tourists also frequent many of the less conventional museums in equal if not greater numbers. The Wax Museum is an amusing way of getting to know historic public figures. Moreover, in order to fully understand the San Marino society of today, it is necessary to become acquainted with its history of mass emigration during the early 1900’s. This phenomenon and its consequences on public life of San Marino is illustrated in the Museum of the Emigrant. The Museum of Torture is dedicated to the different mannerisms and forms of torture throughout history. The museum of Curious objects is the must go for the tourist who has seen it all, this one of a kind world.
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