Sure everybody makes a trip to the Vatican while in Italy in order to visit the world’s smallest nation, but you can easily reach the third smallest country, San Marino with some good planning of touring Italy’s Central East Coast. It is a mountainside country completely surrounded by Italy which can be reached by funicular or by taking the winding mountain road to the top.
This city is definitely old and very well fortified, but everything is very well restored and cared for. Tourism is a priority here that is obvious from the shops to the restaurants and monuments in perfect condition. This central mountain on which the city is built has three natural cliffs which rise up and drop off straight down to the valley floor below. There are three medieval towers: (Guaita, Cesta and Montale) on top of each cliff with enclosed fortifications and a wide wall connecting all three. Making the whole walk until the third tower is an essential attraction which has an impressive arms museum inside. There is a minimal fee to access this park.
Besides the towers there are other architectural and structural marvels worth seeing in the town. The town is not so huge that one won’t see everything. It is about a twenty minute walk from one side to the other. The church dedicated to San Marino is definitely worth seeing. It contains the body of the Saint who is said to have founded this republic in the 300’s A.D. He founded this ancient republic on principles of freedom of religion and basic human rights. The parliament building and its opulent square are definitely places that stand out for architectural craftsmanship and panoramic beauty. The osteria taverna is a great place for local cuisine, coffee and desserts. There is also an archery range built in an amphitheater style where often at least once per day one may see the local crossbow crew training in their entire colorful garb. There are many little museums, mostly dealing with ancient weaponry, modern weaponry, art, San Marino immigration abroad or local curiosities. Most are either free or have a modest entrance fee.
Besides the normal sightseeing attractions, there are some unique opportunities and goods available. For collectors San Marino euro coins, passport stamps or postage stamps are popular. There are more souvenir shops than houses, so finding things is not a problem. Many take home some typical San Marino wines and cheeses which make for great snacks and souvenirs. There are no taxes in San Marino, so many visitors come with a plan to enjoy some great shopping. There are electronic goods, cigars, perfumes, liquor and most everything one could expect in a duty free area. Many visitors to Italy head to San Marino, but others miss the opportunity not realizing it is easily accessible and close to major cities like Bologna, Florence and Ancona.