As one of the last city-states, San Marino sits atop a hill surrounded by Italy. The little city has quite a bit to offer given the limited space. It’s so magical that the entire thing is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a time capsule of Italy’s halcyon days.
First of all, the trip to San Marino was a bit of a misadventure. We were feeling indulgent so opted for a longer but potentially more scenic route. Our trust in Google Maps died at about hour 2 when we weren’t even halfway there and the only real scenery we saw was the back of the car in front of us. The road we took was small and prone to jamming. At the beginning there was a brief view of Venice from across the water, which was stunning but did not make up for the grueling six hour trip.
Once we headed back to the highway, we got glimpses of a castle on a high hill, higher than the ones dotting most of the countryside between in central Italy. We foolishly assumed this was just another hill, just another Italian castle. In fact, this was our destination, Italy’s last true city-state, a holdover from a by-gone era, and the world’s longest continuously existing sovereign state still in existence (sorry, Japan and China). It was founded in 301 AD and has had basically the same government since. Dubious titles aside, San Marino is worth a little pop-over, at least for its preservation of historical significance.
As the annoying-to-draw crest shows, San Marino has three towers. The views from each are enough to appease the temper of an irritated driver or passenger. The most fun part is trying to decide whether the Adriatic in the distance to the east is a better view than the rolling hills of Tuscany to the west. The winner is you. Aside from wonderful views, the enclave offers many culinary delights, not unlike its surrounding neighbor.
San Marino is not too small to break into further districts and outside of the castle area it’s hilariously suburban. I love when Europeans are just as basic as they think Americans are.