Italy Today

Discovering the hidden identity of San Marino

Once you get away from the souvenir stands, the tiny republic appears as pleasantly untouched by modernity

Discovering the hidden identity of San Marino

Claudia Astarita


A few weeks ago, The New York Times published an interesting article about Italy, explaining travelling to Italy does not only mean having the chance to explore famous and beautiful landscapes while tasting delicious food, but also accessing tiny places "in its neighborood" that can be more charming and surprising than the most famous locations.

Among them there is San Marino, a very small Republic that used to be isolated until a few years ago, which is now quite attractive for tourists. San Marino is a hilltop country of just 24 square miles surrounded by Italy's Emilia-Romagna and Marche regions, located just a few miles inland from the Adriatic coast. It counts nearly 32,000 citizens, but 17,000 more have been estimated to be living abroad. However, no matter how tiny this charming Republic is, it is able to welcome more than two million tourists each year.

Most of people travelling to the City of San Marino, the capital of the country, believe that San Marino is a beautiful place overwhelmed by filling souvenir shops, The New York Times reporter decided to spend a few days there to look for the hidden identity of the republic. His first stops were "the three ancient watchtowers that define the San Marino skyline, rising above its central Apennine peak, Monte Titano". He later "walked the old stone ramparts, entering the first watchtower, called Guaita, and climbed several wooden ladders and rickety staircases until [he] reached the upper level". From there, he had the chance to admire several of the country's nine municipalities, known as castelli, or "castles."

According to tradition, San Marino is the world's oldest republic, settled on Monte Titano in the year 301 by a persecuted Christian stonecutter. Today, although many things have been substantially modernized "the country's two heads of state ?" both known as 'captains regent' ?" and its parliament are elected exactly as they were in the Middle Ages. Indeed, once you get away from the souvenir stands, much of San Marino seems pleasantly untouched by modernity".

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