Already from a distance, it is clear that Monte Titano is a formidable natural defence of the city state of San Marino. Vertical cliffs rise out of the Italian plains west of Rimini, and the bus works its way around the 739m high mountain where it finally halts on a square on the west side of the mountain. You immediately grasp the feel of the city: you have to constantly deal with height differences in the capital of San Marino that has been draped right on top of the mountain. There is an abundance of stairs, but also elevators for those tired of walking yet more stairs. After a quick walk through the city centre, I first explored the three towers for which San Marino is rightly famous: they are even represented in the coat of arms of the country, complete with ostrich plumes on their top. This coat of arms, with the word Freedom (Latin Libertas, sometimes Italian Libertà) under it, can be found everywhere in the city, on walls and over gates.
Seceded in the early 4th century from the Roman Empire, it is easy to understand how important freedom must be for the Sammarinese people in this oldest still existing sovereign state in Europe. After visiting the three towers of San Marino, I dedicated the rest of my time in the most Serene Republic of San Marino in the historic city centre. Despite its small size, I found there was plenty to see, while because of its small size, you can walk around without much planning. I ended up taking turns whenever I felt like it, stumbling upon small squares with sculptures and statues, old buildings basking in the late afternoon sun, and the city wall that protects the city on its western side, where the natural protection of steep Mount Titan that efficiently defends the city on the eastern side is not sufficient. At some parts, there are stairs that lead up to the city wall, allowing for a close-up look of the sturdy wall, as well as good views down on the city, and in some places, the Sammarinese landscape in a distance below.
Cruising the streets and alleys of the historic city, you inevitably come across its landmark buildings, like the Palazzo Pubblico on the Piazza della Libertà with the white statue of Liberty, the Porta San Francesco, the main entrance point to the city, and the Basilica which actually is not as old as most of the other buildings, as it was rebuilt in the 19th century on the spot of a 12th century church. At the station of the funicular, you get some good views of the landscape below, as well as Borgo Maggiore. Some of the streets are dedicated to shopping; Russian-speaking women trying to sell souvenirs in old Sammarinese buildings: what would the medieval inhabitants tirelessly defending the city state have thought of it? Even here, though, there fortunately are plenty of quiet spots, alleys with flowers, locals having a chat on the streets - especially in the early morning or late afternoon when the daily wave of visitors has left.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Historic City of San Marino (San Marino). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Historic City of San Marino. Read more about this site.