If you’ve never heard of San Marino, let alone included it on your list of must-visit European destinations, you’re not alone and you should be ecstatic that this is the case. This relatively obscure country is one of those gloriously undiscovered European marvels that only registers on the radar of truly dedicated travellers with a taste for the road less travelled.
The where & why
Numbering among the world’s oldest republics, San Marino is a mountainous microstate surrounded by north-central Italy. The country is officially known as the Most Serene Republic of San Marino and takes its name from the stonemason, Marinus, who founded the independent monastic community from which it evolved in 301 CE.
The mere fact that the country exists in its wholly independent state is a bit of a political and historical marvel. Way back when, Italy used to be made up of city states that all eventually gave up their independence to merge. San Marino managed to hold out even when more powerful kingdoms like Genoa and Venice buckled beneath subtle political pressure, which speaks to the proudly strident and courageous nature of its citizens to this day.
Why you should go
At a mere 61 km2, San Marino may be petite in scale when compared to most European countries that stretch across vast reaches of land, but it actually offers quite a surprising variety of cultural nuances. It’s 31 000-odd citizens live in no less than nine municipalities, each hosting a own settlement with unique cultural idiosyncrasies and attractions. Besides – the country is absolutely gorgeous. There are beautifully preserved historical sites to explore and the mountainous views are breathtaking.
Top San Marino travel tips
Random travel factoid
San Marino’s postage stamps are prized by collectors all over the world and the sale thereof generates quite a bit of income for the country. Throw this titbit into conversation when San Marino crops up as a topic and reap some brownie points for being super well-informed.
Now doesn’t that sound marvellous? If you’re curious traveller with a keen love of exploring lesser-known destinations, San Marino is the place to be. Put the mountainous microstate on your Bucket List straight away and get ready to experience a singular culture in a spellbinding setting.