No, you will not find any sea in this country, even if it may sounds that the name refers to water. Also you will not find here any border fence, even if San Marino is an independent country inside Italy. With a size about 61 km2 it became more that a weekend escape from nearby summer resort Rimini, but also one of the reasons to visit Italy.
It was our last destination for filming European microstates. Other three was visited during warm period. For San Marino we chose December for catch pre-Christmas mood. The main ingredient for it was missed, as snow is not common for Mediterranean coast. But it was not needed, as everything else was added: Santa, Xmas tree and hundreds of lights. But before we fell into this merry celebration, we had a chance to walk a bit in the capital of the oldest constitutional republic in the world, also called as the country’s name.
San Marino was founded on 3 September 301, by stonecutter Marinus, who later became a Saint. It was a smart idea to settle on the high hill called Mount Titano (739 m), as it was hard to reach for enemies. But also it must be hard to build any shelter on the rocky ground. Luckily Marinus knew how to behave with stone and first he built a church. Later fortress were erected, formed with three towers that was depicted on the national coat of arms and flag.
Each of the towers mark one of three peaks of Mount Titano. There is a lovely walk that connect them, starting from the smallest one (Montale, 14th century), passing by Cesta (13th century) and ending near the oldest one, Guaita. You can start vice versa, but most likely you prefer to stay near the most famous, 11th century old Guaita. By the way, the best view and pictures can be made from the middle, Cesta tower, as it is situated on the highest peak of Monte Titano. From there you can notice how hight is the capital standing.
But not the whole country is situated on the mountain – only capital, from which it is possible to see other part of the state – small towns and villages, also Italy and sea somewhere on the horizon. Personally I liked the most the capital for its medieval look and view to the valley at sunset. When the clouds are heavy, they can hide everything on downhill and give an impression that you fly above clouds.
And when the sun goes down, fun begins and Babbo Natale wakes up.
Red Santa Clauses play musical instruments, congratulate people and smile. For me this was the most appropriate place to be at Christmas time, because local Santa here and in Italy is called very similar to my name – Babbo Natale.
On the main square works Christmas market with typical holiday products. There you should buy special chocolate and famous liquer from San Marino. If you are lucky, a seller will give you a change with local coins – a euro with three towers on the reverse. Together with local stamps they are the most well-known souvenirs from Italian enclave, so costly. In nearby shops one euro coin costs 5 times more its original value.
For me it was the first time to be in some European country just before Christmas. I realize that preparation and decorations looks quite similar everywhere, but San Marino was special for me. It gave me an impression, that miracles can happen, as San Marino did look like a place on the top from some kind of a fairy tale. I wish you a Merry upcoming Christmas and wonderful trips!