San Marino is a fairytale city, located in the mountains west of Rimini, just off the Adriatic Coast of Italy. This small Republic has remained independent since its founding back in 301 AD. The only country it borders is Italy, and it has remained an independent enclave since its founding. It was constructed upon a hilltop to ward off attacking armies and gives a perfect look out of the nearby low-lying lands. Once a fortified city, the central historic district is home to three castle bastions that overlook the land below. Parts of these castles hang over the cliffside, defying gravity.
Because of its incredible location at the top of a big hill, it normally offers incredible views of the low-lying lands below. I chose to visit on a foggy day, where the low grey clouds hovered above most of the sights. There was no view. It certainly made the resulting photography quite unique, as it became easy to imagine a time before cars or cameras. It was quiet and peaceful, a break from the rest of Italy. The morning before, I had woken up in Rome. This was much different. Nearby Rimini is the Italian gateway to San Marino, and it was easy to organize a day trip without much effort. There are gondolas that go up and down the mountain. I ended up on a bus.
Because of the heavy fog, the pictures turned out quite unique, with the castles surrounded by fog creating a timeless memory. San Marino is one of the smallest countries in the world but left a great big impression. On a personal level, it was a huge milestone; this was the 35th country that I visited. This means that it will always hold a special place in my heart.
What makes the Republic of San Marino so amazing?
Officially known as the “Most Serene Republic of San Marino”, this city-state is more than just a fancy named hilltop town. San Marino is a tiny independent country, completely landlocked within the borders of Italy. The city was built on top of Monte Titan, which rises 739 meters above sea level and has survived by using the steep slopes as a defensive measure to protect from hostile invaders. This strategy has allowed them to survive for the last 1700 years, remaining independent from Italy since its inception.
When I arrived for my visit, the medieval city was shrouded in fog. This of course was quite disappointing at first because I was unable to take in the views of the countryside below and often struggled to see the towers in front of me. As the day went on, I accepted my fate and allowed the mystic feel to transform me back in time.
San Marino gets to claim the title of being the oldest republic in the world, being founded in 301 ACE. The city was founded by Saint Marinus, who arrived here to create the monastic city after helping to rebuild the city walls of its neighbouring city in Rimini.
While it might be expected to be similar to Italy, it retains a very different vibe that sets it apart from its neighbour. San Marino is one of the smallest countries in the world, with 33,000 inhabitants living within the 61km squared territory. Despite its small size, there is a big reward for those who climb to the top. I will look forward to the opportunity to return… hopefully without the fog.