Europe Travel

San Marino – Hiding in Plain Sight

Europe’s Hidden Jewel

Location: San Marino

The tiny Republic of San Marino, only 23 square miles, is hiding in plain sight. Sitting on top of Mount Titano, the country’s capital is the City of San Marino. The city/state of San Marino is landlocked and completely surrounded by Italy. From the mountain top every which way you look you see Italy…the Adriatic to the East and Umbria to the West and South. And here sits San Marino – Hiding in Plain Sight.

San Marino

Take it Slow

Most visitors to San Marino come on a day trip from Florence or Bologna or even off a cruise ship. But I think you should stay the night. In fact, why not stay two? That’s what we did and we found a beautiful, quiet and relaxing city in the evening and morning hours before the visitors arrived. Granted, we were there in February, and there are not a lot of visitors in the winter. I’ve seen the photos of the summer crowds though…I recommend visiting off season.

Puerto in the historic city
View from Hotel Rosa

Where to Stay

We loved staying at Hotel Rosa, perched at the very top of the mountain. Because it was low season, it was easy to drive all the way up, where Hotel Rosa has private parking for their guests. Driving into the city during peak season can be a nightmare. Another reason to visit off season.

Hotel Rosa is a small and comfortable boutique style hotel with wonderful views and friendly English speaking staff. A delicious breakfast is included each morning with excellent Italian espresso. A great way to start the day.

View from our room
Sunrise coffee and a room with a view
Tiny but comfortable
A very nice breakfast

Two Days in San Marino

We arrived mid afternoon and after checking in to Hotel Rosa we headed straight out to see the sights. Although cold, it was dry and sunny and we wanted to take advantage of the good weather and beautiful afternoon light. We spent the next several hours exploring the three tower areas, a UNESCO Heritage Site. At the first tower we purchased the Pass Ridotto ticket. For just 8 Euro each this ticket gave us access to the towers, the tower museum and three additional museums in the city. On this first day we spent as much time as we needed climbing all over the beautiful towers, admiring the 360 degree views and taking so many photos. San Marino is like something out of a children’s fairytale book. I kept expecting Rapunzel or Cinderella to join our self guided tour.

Climbing up to the first tower
Looking from tower two over to tower three
You can see for miles
Arne enjoying tower two
Note to self – there are lots of stairs

After much tower climbing and astonished exclamations, we headed back to our hotel to refresh. After the sunset we walked through the quiet streets, admired the well-lit Piazza della Liberta, and then settled in for a beautiful dinner with a view at La Terrazza, one of San Marino’s highest rated restaurants. We enjoyed a nice spread of prosciutto and cheese, we each had pasta and I had fish while Arne had a wonderfully prepared veal. It had been a lovely day.

La Terazza meat and cheese
Gnocchi was delicious
Dinner at La Terazza
Piazza della Liberta houses the Government building and the statue of Liberty

Day Two

As I usually do, I awoke very early, and watched the sunrise from our window, coffee in hand, over the medieval city. What a site it was. Eventually we headed down to breakfast and then out to see what else this tiny town had to say. We visited three museums; Coin and Stamp Museum, Pinacoteca San Francisco and the State Museum of San Marino. The town has a funny collection of macabre museums we were not interested in; one about vampires, another about monsters and curiosities and a wax museum too. Not my thing.

Cobbled streets and paths
Hidden treasures
Coin and Stamp Museum
San Francisco

We did a little shopping, picking up some leather gloves for myself and some gifts. San Marino is a duty free zone, and prices were really good. But, no room in the suitcase so the gloves were all we got. After a bit more wandering we settled into an early dinner at Ristorante Bolognese. Here we also enjoyed a beautiful view of the late afternoon sun while munching on delicious tiny vongole (clams), ravioli and gnocchi.

Tiny Vongole sweet and delicious
Enjoying lunch
Excellent ravioli

San Marino – Hiding in Plain Sight

We really enjoyed our visit to this tiny country. San Marino is the 5th smallest country in the world. It is the third smallest country in Europe behind Monaco and the Vatican Holy See. It has a long and interesting history dating back to the original monastic community in 301 AD. When Italy was unifying in the mid 1800’s San Marino became a haven for those who objected to unification. And through that, San Marino was able to hold it’s independency. Today it is one of the oldest constitutional republics in the world.

San Marino – Hiding in Plain Sight

All of that and only 23 square miles. You should come and see this little gem, San Marino – Hiding in Plain Sight.

Thanks for reading my post San Marino – Hiding in Plain Sight. See last week’s post Two Days in Bologna Italy. Be sure to come back next week for more of our Italian adventures as we explore Puglia.

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  • Reply anukrati

    What a lovely place! Honestly, it does remind me of Rapunzel and Cinderella.

    March 2, 2024 at 3:10 am
  • Reply Sonia

    I love the idea of spending a night or two in town when we visit. We’ll definitely follow your off season recommendation.

    March 2, 2024 at 5:15 am
    • Reply San

      This captivating blog post beautifully showcases the rich history, stunning landscapes, and cultural treasures of San Marino, unveiling a hidden world waiting to be discovered. A must-watch for anyone seeking to unravel the secrets of this European treasure.”

      March 2, 2024 at 6:30 am
    • Reply Laureen


      March 2, 2024 at 8:27 am
  • Reply Michelle

    Wow! San Marino looks incredible. I love that you recommend slowing down and spending a couple of nights in San Marino. This is definitely what I would want to do. Thanks for adding a new place to my list! 🙂

    March 2, 2024 at 5:26 am
    • Reply Laureen

      I hope you can visit!

      March 2, 2024 at 8:28 am
  • Reply Amy

    What a treat to spend two nights in San Marino! I’ve heard of this tiny country but never considered visiting. But now I think it’d be a great destination!

    March 2, 2024 at 12:09 pm
  • Reply Annie

    Italy is one of those places where I haven’t spent enough time, and these little republics are where I’ve spent no time at all. I am going to have to remedy that – you’ve done a good job of selling this one!

    March 2, 2024 at 12:57 pm
  • Reply Linda (LD Holland)

    We too were very glad we visited San Marino buried in the heart of Italy! I love the idea of returning and spending the night. You get such a different sense of small towns like this when the day tourists depart. Great to catch the gems that many visitors miss.

    March 2, 2024 at 1:03 pm
  • Reply Jody

    Wow! How beautiful and the food looked amazing! My mouth was watering! Looks like another place for the bucket list!

    March 3, 2024 at 3:17 am
  • Reply Denise

    OMG< just gorgeous! I'm adding San Marino to my bucket list!

    March 12, 2024 at 12:54 pm
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