New Year's in San Marino

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

San Marino is the third smallest country in Europe after The Vatican (1st) and Monaco (2nd), and the fifth smallest country in the world, behind Tuvalu (4th) and Nauru (3rd) and just in front of Lichtenstein (6th). The enclaved micro-state of San Marino is tucked away in the picturesque Italian landscape and the official language spoken is Italian.

Below follows my recommendations for places to visit in San Marino along with general advice and odd side notes, which I experienced during my visit to this tiny mountain side country.

#1 Guaita Fortress

Guaita Tower (First Tower) on Monte Titano, San Marino
The absolute main attraction in San Marino is the Guaita Fortress situated on the impressive Monte Titano (Mount Titan). The Fortress consists of three main towers, which are all accessable on a single entry ticket. One tower gives an astonishing view towards the next. Absolutely a must-see for any visit to San Marino.

#2 Palazzo Pubblico and Piazza della Liberta

Statue della Liberta in front of Palazzo Pubblico on Piazza della Liberta, San Marino
The main square of San Marino is called Piazza della Liberta (Liberty Square). On this square you'll find the Statue della Liberta (yes, you've guessed it; The Statue of Liberty) along side the Palazzo Pubblico (Town Hall of San Marino) and a ton of restaurants, cafés and bars. This is the heart of the city from which all the veins and narrow streets run.

#3 Bascilica di San Marino

Basilica di San Marino
Basilica di San Marino is the main catholic church of San Marino. The neoclassical-styled church was built in 1836 and is located a very short distance from Piazza della Liberta.

#4 Cava dei Balestrieri

Cava dei Balestrieri
Cava dei Balestriri is a quarry opened in the 19th century to extract stone needed for the restoration of Palazzo Pubblico. Now the area served as a gathering place for crossbow events or ice skating.

#5 Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna

Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna (National Modern Art Museum), San Marino
Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna is the National Modern Arts Museum in San Marino. Like almost the entire city centre on top of Monte Titano this building is ecrected in the light yellow limestone found inside Monte Titano.

#6 Museo di Stato

Museo di Stato, San Marino
Museo di Stato (State Museum of San Marino) holds many historical artifacts from San Marino and all around the world. The museum is part of the main attractions in the heart of San Marino.

#7 Giardino dei Liburni

Fontan al Giardino dei Liburni, San Marino
Right by the National Modern Arts Museum there's a fountain named Fontana al Giardino dei Liburni. There's not much information about the fountain, but I found it quite unique, with an optical illusion effect of the ball somewhat hovering over the water.

Restaurants and Bars in San Marino

Da Pier Pizzeria, San Marino
The city center is full of restaurants and cafés scattered in the narrow streets. Two of my favourite places were Da Pier Pizzeria and La Gatta. The food is heavily influenced by Italian culture and style of cooking.

Shopping in San Marino

Atlante Centro Commerciale Shopping Center, San Marino
If you leave the city center (on top of Monte Titano) San Marino begins to look more like a modern day city. In the Atlante Centro Commerciale Shopping Center near the northern border to Italy, I found a San Marino football shirt of the national team of San Marino. Since San Marino has the worst ranked National Football Team in the world by the FIFA World Ranking (as of 1st of January 2019) I found it to be a quite unique souvenir to bring home from San Marino.

How to get a passport stamp in San Marino

San Marino Passport Stamp
I read in a lot of places that people were trying to get a San Marino stamp in their passports. Since San Marino and Italy is closely related, there's no passport control at the border. Instead I got my passport stamp at the Ufficio del Turismo di San Marino in the heart of the city. Here a very friendly gentleman sold official San Marino postage stamps for €5 along with a passport stamp, which he proudly put in my passport.

New Year's in San Marino 2018

Fire on Piazza della Liberta on New Year's Eve 2018, San Marino
My travel buddy Lasse and I had decided even before this trip, that we would spend New Year's Eve in San Marino. We had gathered with basically the rest of the country at Piazza della Liberta to count down the minutes to midnight on the watch tower of the Palazzo Pubblico. Literally one minute to midnight (check the photo) someone decided to throw a firecracker into the large Christmas tree on the sqaure. Unfortunately the tree was covered in artificial snow, which ignites easily and is extremely flammable. The whole situation escalated lighting fast, but fortunately some of the restaurant owners put the fire out with their fire extinguishers just before the firetruck showed up.

Fireworks over San Marino
About an hour too late, the fireworks finally hits the skies over San Marino. I can now say, that I visited San Marino on the day, where the whole country almost burned down. What a way to begin the new year.

Lastly I'll just urge you to visit San Marino, there's always something special about these very small countries that is fascinating and worth visiting. Happy travels!

Me in Guaita Tower on Monte Titano, San Marino

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