A world Heritage site since 2008, San Marino is the oldest Republic and fifth smallest country in the world, located in the heart of Italy. Intense, magical, and unique, San Marino offers authentic and exclusive experiences thanks to more than 1700 years of independence and freedom, amid history and legend.
Keeping that in mind, a special itinerary to unveil the historic spots less known to visitors is really a must.
Start your tour from St Francis Gate, the official entrance to the old town, built in 1361 as a guard post looking over the third set of town walls. Under the vault, two plaques defining Statutory norms about the defense of the city bring us back to the 17th century. In particular, the rule that “foreigners entering the fortified city must leave any kind of weapon with the guards for all the time they stay in San Marino” makes it easy to imagine the probably impressive men surveilling the foreigners coming into the town. From the current century, a bronze plaque commemorates the one-year anniversary of San Marino’s inscription on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
Now it’s time to start the climb through Via Basilicius with Simoncini House on the left. A tablet on the wall explains that the house hosted Anita Garibaldi, the wife of Giuseppe Garibaldi, one of the most important figures in Italian history, who took refuge in San Marino.
The next stop on the tour is Piazzetta Titano, well-known for the State Museum. Turning left towards Contrada Omerelli, under the arch is a unique bas-relief of San Marino and the Bear that catches everyone’s attention. The bas-relief recalls the 4th-century legend that one day, the founding Saint Marinus found out his donkey had been eaten by a bear. After this debacle, Marinus calmed the bear down and it remained with him, replacing the donkey in performing its daily tasks.
Continue climbing until you reach Piazza della Libertà, surrounded by the Public Palace and the Parva Domus Comunis. Focus on the fountain with the Statue of Liberty in the center of the square. The elegant statue was donated by Countess Otilia Heyroth Wagener. The Republic bestowed on her the title of Duchess of Acquaviva as a token of gratitude.
This tour amidst history and legend concludes at the origin of the founding of the Republic, at Saint Peter’s Church near the main Basilica of Saint Marinus. The first chapel was erected where Saint Marinus had built a small church dedicated to Saint Peter. Inside, two beds are carved into the rock; these unusual beds, according to tradition, belonged to Saint Marinus and his friend Saint Leo, who lived on a hill 25 kilometers away, now known as San Leo. These beds have a special place in the heart of the people of San Marino, who believe they have thaumaturgical (miracle-producing) properties.
This is just the beginning! Come to San Marino and find all the ways to appreciate its thousand-year history.