San Marino Italy Clopes Monte Titano

San Marino Italy Guide & 15 Fun Facts About This Tiny Country

San Marino is one of two independent countries in Italy. Top fifteen reasons to visit San Marino in Italy, including why it is so much fun!

On a recent trip to the Marche region of Italy, Paolo turned to me and said, “Do you want to see a new country?” I thought he was talking about our next trip. Instead, he meant San Marino, a small independent microstate inside Italy with a storied history of respect from international leaders.

San Marino Italy Guide

If you’re planning a trip to Italy and looking for something unique, we highly recommend adding San Marino to your itinerary. Is San Marino in Italy? Yes. Is it part of Italy? No. Adding San Marino to your travel plans means you can see the second-smallest country in Europe (after the Vatican) and one of the five smallest countries in the world.

Can Anyone Visit San Marino?

Given that San Marino is a country in Italy, you might wonder if anyone has the right to visit. The short answer is yes. There are no official borders or border controls between Italy and San Marino. So visiting San Marino from Italy is as simple as following the road signs market San Marino. 

Is San Marino Worth Visiting?

Yes! San Marino is absolutely worth visiting in Italy due to its unique history as the world’s oldest surviving republic, and captivating natural beauty that draws three million visitors every year.

I love visiting San Marino and am proud to let you in on the secret of how much fun it is to see. First, the views from San Marino are astounding. They stretch out over the Adriatic well across the Italian countryside of both Emilia-Romagna and the Marche.

Finally, visiting San Marino feels like stepping back in time. Because of its mythic yet treacherous location high atop a steep Mount Titano slope, San Marino proved too difficult a place for urban sprawl to take hold. Hence San Marino proudly stands frozen in time as an independent country with a motto of Libertas in Italy.

Before jumping into the top reasons you should visit San Marion, it helps to understand two terms. Microstate and Sammarinese. First, the citizens of San Marino go by the name of Sammarinese. Second, a microstate is a small sovereign nation or country that can demonstrate recognition by other countries and international bodies. Typically microstates are countries with small populations and little land area.

A Brief History

San Marino was occupied twice. First, Cesare Borgia dominated San Marino for two months in 1503. Then again equally briefly by Cardinal Giulio Alberoni in 1739. After riots freed San Marino from the abuse of Cardinal Alberoni, the Pope recognized San Marino’s rights and restored independence on February 5, 1740, hence Saint Agatha day in honor of the patron saint of San Marino. 

While San Marino is not part of Italy because of the difficulties invaders faced with such a steep mountaintop location, it’s clearly not the only reason. The Sammarinese deserve a big part of the credit themselves.

Since then, several key historical figures have recognized and paid homage to the sovereignty of San Marino. In 1797 Napoleon Bonaparte offered San Marino the opportunity to expand their territorial boundaries. Wisely, the Sammarinese politely declined the offer to avoid potential risks in the future.

In 1849 Giuseppe Garibaldi became the most famous refugee of San Marino after the fall of the Roman Republic. Americans visiting San Marino can take pride in knowing President Abraham Lincoln recognized San Marino by saying, “Although your dominion is small, nevertheless your State is one of the most honored throughout history.”

Why San Marino is Not Part of Italy

San Marino escaped a long-term invasion because it was strategic in location and political neutrality over time. Hence San Marino has commanded respect from leaders for its ability to remain independent inside Italy.

In more modern times, part of the strategy of San Marino was to remain a neutral country in times of war. Additionally, they provided safe refuge for those fleeing conflict. While San Marino is not part of Italy because of the difficulties invaders faced with such a steep mountaintop location, it’s clearly not the only reason. The Sammarinese deserve a big part of the credit themselves. 

15 San Marino Fun Facts

San Marino clings to sky high cliff on Mount Titano. Hence it has panoramic views for miles. The hidden magic of San Marinos location is that modern development proved risky. As a result architecture of San Marino has remained frozen in time. Together these two things make the independent country of San Marino worth visiting on your next trip to Italy.

It’s Not Part of Italy

While you won’t get a passport stamp entering San Marino from Italy, it is technically an independent country. So you can add another country to your “been there” travel list without spending much more money than you would on Italy alone.

It’s a Microstate

The key to becoming a microstate is international recognition. In the case of San Marino, the United States established diplomatic relations in 1861. Additionally, San Marino is a member of the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank.

Perfect Day Trip from Urbino or Rimini, Italy

San Marino lies an hour from the Adriatic coast between the Emilia-Romagna and Marche regions. Hence it makes for the perfect day trip from Urbino in the Marche region to the south and Rimini in the Emilia-Romagna region to the north.

San Marino and Marche countryside as seen from Tower One
San Marino and Marche countryside as seen from Tower One

The Flag Depicts Freedom

As a country, San Marino has a tradition of being a haven for refugees. The flag of San Marino depicts the spirit of freedom and liberty the country embraces with the Latin motto “Libertas” or Liberty. While white and blue represent the sky and clouds surrounding San Marino on its perch in the sky.

San Marino Flag
San Marino Flag

Its Location Prevented Invasion

Italy surrounds San Marino in all directions. Yet, it never became a part of the country of Italy which is easier to see when you visit. The steep slope that San Marino sits on Mount Titano made it extremely difficult to overtake.

San Marino
San Marino

One of the World’s Smallest Countries

Can you believe two of the smallest countries in the world are inside the boot of Italy? Pretty amazing when you consider Italy would fit inside the footprint of California! At .17 square miles, the Vatican is the world’s smallest country. After that, it’s Monaco, Nauru, and Tuvalu. Finally, with an area of just over 40 square miles, San Marino is the fifth smallest country in the world.

Photographer Paolo Ferraris in San Marino
Photographer Paolo Ferraris in San Marino

One of the World’s Oldest Republics

San Marino proclaimed its independence from the Roman Empire in 301. Technically this makes San Marino over 1721 years old and one of the world’s oldest republics.

San Marino Coat of Arms, Libertas and the Three Towers
San Marino Coat of Arms, Libertas and the Three Towers

One of the Oldest Constitutions

Written in 1600, the constitution of San Marino is still in place today. Thus San Marino has one of the oldest surviving constitutions in the world.

San Marino is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

In 2008 UNESCO inscribed San Marino as a World Heritage site as a testimony to the continuity of a free republic since the Middle Ages. So if you’re a history buff who appreciates UNESCO sites, San Marino is a must-see in Italy. San Marino has done an excellent job at the preservation of the city center towers, walls, gates, and bastions (a projecting part of a fortification built at an angle to the line of a wall, so as to allow defensive fire in several directions.) In addition, UNESCO also recognized the 14th and 16th-century convents, the 18th-century Titano Theatre, and finally a neo-classical basilica and Palazzo Publico (seen below) from the 19th century.

Brandy in Piazza della Libertà, San Marino
Brandy in Piazza della Libertà, San Marino

Three Towers of San Marino are Really Fun to Explore

One of the most famous tourist sites in San Marino is the three towers that stand watch over the town below. The first inhabitants of San Marino constructed the first tower called “Rocca Maggiore” (Major Fortress) in the 12th century. Around the tower and inside the walls that stretch around it is where the first group of inhabitants settled in San Marino. They added a drawbridge and eventually used the tower as a hellish prison until the 1960s. We highly recommend touring Tower I and II (if it’s open) for the 360 views of San Marino, the Adriatic Sea, and the Italian countryside below. If you plan to go, here is information about San Marino Castle Tickets.

Inside The First Tower (also called Rocca or Guaita) keeping watch over the City of San Marino.
Inside The First Tower (also called Rocca or Guaita) keeping watch over the City of San Marino.

The Cannons Inside the Tower Come a Royal Gifts

The Tower I yard contains several ornately decorated cannons. While cannons are usually not interesting for a non-history buff like myself, they are fascinating because of what they symbolize. They physically proved Italy recognized San Marino as an independent country. How? Italian king Vittorio Vittorio Emanuele saw great value in San Marino. So as a sign of respect and friendship between Italy and San Marino, they gifted ornately decorated cannons. If you tour Tower I, you can still see them today.

San Marino Tower I Cannons
San Marino Tower I Cannons

San Marino Italy Map

Take a glance at the map of San Marino below. See how small the historic heart of the city of San Marino is? This is exactly why San Marino is so much fun to visit. It’s walkable, easy to navigate, and has a lot of fun packed into a small space.

Map of San Marino
Map of San Marino

The List of Things to See in San Marino is Long

There’s a little something for everyone in San Marino. If you love a bit of kitschy yet memorable fun, San Marino has it. 

There are also several museums to help visitors learn about the history and culture of San Marino.

Average Life Expectancy in San Marino is 83

Curious why life expectancy in San Marino is so high? While San Marino is not technically a part of Italy, the surrounding Italian culture is part of San Marino. Since Italians culturally value healthy foods, close friends, families, and outdoor activities. Not to mention all the hills in San Marino. I saw firsthand how those elevation changes turn quick errands into a workout.

Lastly, San Marino has a strong economy and infrastructure proven to increase life expectancies. In other words, Sammarinese lead healthy lives. Hence they are among the oldest populations in the world.

Brandy on the steps between Tower One and Two in San Marino
Brandy on the steps between Tower One and Two in San Marino

Italian is the Official Language of San Marino, But You Might Get to Hear the Sammarinese dialect of Romagnol

In 2021 the Sammarinese population was only 33,745 people. Since Sammarinese are friendly, you might make a new friend when you visit San Marino. In and of itself, that’s a pretty cool travel anecdote to talk about with friends back home. Speaking of, if you make friends in San Marino, you might hear the Sammarinese dialect of Romagnol.

While the official language of San Marino is Italian, the local dialect is Romagnol. The Romagnol dialect comes from the Lombard name for Emilia-Romagna Romagna, thus the name. Unfortunately, Romagnol is an endangered language that might become extinct as soon as 2040. Something that’s been happening throughout Italy since Italian became the official language in 2007. As Older generations have stopped passing down their native tongue, this is just one more reason to work San Marino into your plans for Italy soon.

Pictures of San Marino Italy

Click on any picture to take a closer look! All photos by ALOR Italy Head Photographer Paolo Ferraris from our trip to San Marino Italy.

  • San Marino Italy Clopes Monte Titano
  • San Marino as seen from the Tower
  • Brandy on the steps between Tower One and Two in San Marino
  • Inside The First Tower (also called Rocca or Guaita) keeping watch over the City of San Marino.
  • San Marino
  • San Marino as seen from Monte Titano
  • Walls of San Marino Tower Two as Seen from Below
  • Second Tower (Cesta/Fratta) As seen from Tower One
  • View of Second San Marino Tower from First Tower Window
  • San Marino Coat of Arms, Libertas and the Three Towers
  • Brandy in Piazza della Libertà, San Marino
  • San Marino as seen from Tower One
  • San Marino and Marche countryside as seen from Tower One
  • Ominous Skys Over San Marino
  • Marche Countryside as seen from San Marino
  • Walls between the Towers of San Marino
  • Views of Marche countryside from San Marino Watchtower
  • View of Second San Marino Tower (Cesta/Fratta) from First Tower in

One thing to keep in mind if you’re planning a trip in 2024 or beyond is that right now, Americans can travel to Europe without preauthorization or visas. However, in 2024, you’ll need to pay to obtain a quick online document known as ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System) before entering the Schengen member countries of Europe. You guessed it, Italy and San Marino are among the Schengen countries of Europe.

With all that said, if you are planning a trip to Italy, here is a reference list for information about visiting San Marino to help you plan your trip. 

San Marino References & Resources

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Why trust us? We’re Brandy Shearer (Author) & Paolo Ferraris (Photographer), two budget-savvy Italian introverts, artists, and dual citizens living in the Italian Alps.

All Pictures of Italy are © Paolo Ferraris & Brandy Shearer and, 2023 and beyond! We strictly prohibit unauthorized use and or duplication of this material without express and written permission. We welcome excerpts, provided that you give full and clear credit to Paolo Ferraris & Brandy Shearer and link to Please use appropriate and specific directions to the original content. For use or prints, contact

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  1. Wow! Beautiful! I’m actually surprised at the population given it’s size. Another lovely historical location to add to my bucket list.