San Marino: The world’s oldest republic

San Marino is said to be the world’s oldest surviving republic and I visited on a trip to Italy in 2008 with my two friends, Alicia and Neeley. We stayed in Rimini and got a bus from there to San Marino.

San Marino flag
San Marino flag

San Marino was founded by Saint Marinus. The people of San Marino are known as Sammarinese which almost sounds more like a nationality in the South Pacific.

A castle covered in greenery in San Marino
Castle della Guaita or Rocca in the oldest and most famous tower of San Marino

It is Europe’s third smallest country after Vatican City and Monaco. It is also the fifth smallest country in the world.

In common with other small countries, it decided to work on its issue with ‘financial transparency’ after finding itself to no-ones surprise on the ‘grey list’ of tax havens.


The Città di San Marino is the main sight of this diminutive country, a UNESCO-listed capital city on top of a hill. Is it the most charming of UNESCO sites?

Probably not, but what it lacks in pizazz it makes up for by the excitement that you’re in a different country. They love a weird museum in SM and they have one dedicated to torture instruments and one to horror and science fiction creatures.

View from San Marino
View from San Marino

San Marino remained neutral in the WW2 and hosted 100,000 Italian refugees during that time.

Mists over San Marino

Tourism is a big boon to their economy and they receive on average 3 million visitors per year. Its population is only around 33,000 people in an area of 23 square miles.

San Marino food joint

There are many places to spend, spend, spend in San Marino with shops and eateries galore! They sell expensive items like bags, jewellery and perfume which was all well out of our price range.

San Marino perfume shop
San Marino perfume shop

Despite the strangeness of this country whose capital on a hill is full of boutiques instead of soul, you have to admire it.

When other city states rejoined Italy, it kept its ground and remained a republic and sovereign state since AD301. Not only has it remained independent, but it also has one of the highest GDP’s per capita in the entire world. I have to take my hat off to that.

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