The origins of San Marino are based on the charming legend of Saint Marinus, who founded the community and the republic in AD301 after taking refuge on Mount Titano. The independence of San Marino was enshrined after Italian Unification, possibly in gratitude for at one time harbouring Garibaldi, the great leader of the Risorgimento. Apart from the Vatican City, it is the only city-state that is completely surrounded by another country.
In whatever part of this 61 sq km (24 sq mile) territory you go, there seems to be a dazzling panorama at your disposal. But it is standing atop the spectacular Cesta Tower that will give you the best views. From the gorgeous Old Town clinging to the slopes, your gaze reaches across the fertile soils of Emilia Romagna, the soft rolling hills of the Marche, and on to the placid Adriatic sea. The Sammarinese territory is made up of nine ancient citadels, including the capital, San Marino.
What the tiny city state lacks in size, it makes up for in history, museums and priceless architectural monuments. Meanwhile, a wealth of assorted crafts and souvenirs provide a vast, pleasant shopping experience.
The free movement between San Marino and Italy, not to mention the fact that most locals support the Italian national team in football tournaments, might lead you to believe the territory’s independence lies in name only. But the Sammarinese have their own government and a distinct local culture. Everyone speaks Italian, but the San Marino dialect has failed to die out, while unique dishes such as white rabbit stew, black risotto and Cacciatello cake are local treasures.
As well as imbibing the local food, other pleasant diversions include getting a colourful stamp in your passport at the State Post Office, visiting the impressive Three Towers of San Marino and the lavish Parliament Building.