Self Guided Walking Tour of San Marino (With Maps!)
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The Republic of San Marino is one of the world’s smallest countries, nestled in the heart of Italy and bordered by the regions of Emilia Romagna and Marche. Despite its diminutive size, with a population of around 30,000 inhabitants, San Marino is an independent nation. Perched atop Mount Titano, it offers splendid vistas of the rolling Italian countryside. The ancient fortress of La Guaita, dating back to 1253, crowns the summit of San Marino, located just approximately 20 kilometers from the coastal resort town of Rimini.
San Marino spans an area of 61 square kilometers and is governed by the Great Council, a system that bears some resemblance to ancient Roman governance. Each year, roughly 3 million tourists visit San Marino for various reasons. Some come to soak in the unique atmosphere of this small, sovereign country, while others come for shopping. San Marino is a popular shopping destination because it is a value-added tax (VAT)-free zone, in contrast to the standard Italian VAT rate of 20%. The country boasts a multitude of shops offering branded products like luxury watches, handbags, shoes, clothing, as well as CDs, DVDs, alcohol, and food, among others.
San Marino’s historic centre exudes a charming ambiance with its narrow, picturesque alleyways, abundant cafes, and restaurants. If you plan to visit during the summer, especially on weekends and holidays, be prepared for large crowds!
Getting To San Marino
By Road: Driving is probably the easiest way to get to San Marino. The city of San Marino is on top of Monte Titano. Parking P10 is for motorhomes and campers.
You can park in the neighbouring castelli of Borgo Maggiore, at the foot of Monte Titano, at Piazzale Campo della Fiera and take the San Marino Cable Car up the city. This is also a good place to park to up the Galleria Borgo, an old railway tunnel/track that leads up to the Cimitero di San Marino, where you can then walk on up to the city.
By Bus: A bus runs from nearby Rimini, Italy, several times a day.
By Train: San Marino’s train line was destroyed in the Second World War, and never replaced, so now the only way to get in is by road. You can catch the train to nearby Rimini, and then bus to San Marino.
Porta San Francesco
The small gateway entrance to San Marino City usually has a police person managing traffic. If there, they will halt traffic to allow you to cross.
The Porta San Francesco, also known as the Porta del Paese (formerly called the Porta del Loco or Porta del Lucho), is an ancient guard post located in the City of San Marino within the Republic of San Marino. Constructed in 1361, this gate has undergone numerous changes and renovations over the course of its history. Inscriptions beneath the gate served as warnings to foreigners, advising them not to enter the city with weapons to avoid facing severe punishments. On the back of the gate, you can find the coats of arms of San Marino and the Feltresca Family.
Location: Porta San Francesco, Piazzale Lo Stradone, San Marino
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Church of San Francesco and the Art Gallery
As you pass through the arch on your right is the Museum of Torture Instruments – not for the faint hearted! Directly ahead of you is the Church of San Francesco with its entrance slightly on your left.
The ancient church, founded in 1361 by the Conventual Franciscans, is the oldest church in San Marino. It was constructed by the Comacine Masters and still retains symbols and inscriptions on the stone of its western wall, as well as a commemorative plaque in local stone above the church’s entrance. The church was frescoed by Antonio Alberti da Ferrara in the early decades of the fifteenth century, and it houses a wooden crucifix dating back to the fourteenth century. The interior underwent significant restructuring in the late eighteenth century.
Since 1966, the former Franciscan convent has served as a museum, featuring two sections: sacred art and an art gallery. Visitors can admire a diverse collection of artworks, including pieces from the monastery and other Franciscan churches. This collection includes paintings on wood and canvas, a valuable fresco, and vestments dating from the 14th to the 18th century. The art gallery showcases works by the artist Emilio Ambron, comprising paintings and sculptures from the first half of the twentieth century, generously donated by the artist himself.
Location: Chiesa San Francesco Via Basilicius, 33 47890 Città di San Marino San Marino | Hours: From January 2nd to June 5th and from September 5th to December 31th 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM | Website
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Walk up the Via Basilicius at the end of which is the State Museum.
The State Museum of San Marino is home to a remarkable collection of archaeological, artistic, and numismatic artifacts, tracing their origins back to collections established in the latter half of the 19th century. The museum has been open to the public since 1899, and in 2001, it found its current location within the historic Palazzo Pergami-Belluzzi in the heart of San Marino. The collections are thoughtfully organized across four floors.
On the ground floor, you’ll discover the Archaeology Section, which showcases artifacts from prehistoric, Villanovan, and Roman communities that once thrived in the San Marino region.
The first floor houses two distinct sections. In “Arts in the Republic,” visitors can admire artworks by renowned artists like Guercino and his pupils Cesare and Benedetto Gennari, Matteo Loves, Elisabetta Sirani, and Pompeo Batoni’s masterpiece, “San Marino Risolleva La Repubblica” (“Saint Marino lifting the Republic”). The “Archaeological Donations and Numismatics” section features a selection of Egyptian objects, 18th-century paintings from Latin America, and bronze and wood sculptures.
The second floor serves as a flexible space for temporary exhibitions and conferences, adding a dynamic dimension to the museum’s offerings.
Location: State Museum of San Marino, Piazzetta del Titano, San Marino | Hours: From 6 June to 4 September 9.30am - 6.30pm; From 2 January to 5 June and from 5 September to 31 December 9:00 - 17:00 | Price: € 8.00 (Two Museums) | Website | 7 State Museums Available!
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Cava dei Balestrieri
Coming out of the museum turning left you are faced with the three arches of the Cassa di Risparmio della Repubblica di San Marino (a bank). You can take the third arch on the right to walk up Via Eugippo, or the middle arch to see the Giardino dei Liburni and then climb the steps at the end. Both routes will lead you to the Cava dei Balestrieri.
The Cava dei Balestrieri has its origins as a genuine quarry, established in the late 19th century with the primary purpose of sourcing materials for the restoration of the Palazzo Pubblico, an emblematic structure representing civic and republican authority. There were initial plans to repurpose the quarry site for constructing an office building. However, the outbreak of the Second World War disrupted any such plans, rendering them unfeasible. Presently, the location serves as a venue for sporting activities associated with Italian crossbow shooting, a sport deeply rooted in the traditions of the ancient Republic of San Marino.
Location: Cava dei Balestrieri, Via Eugippo, San Marino
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Piazza della Libertà
Carry on up Via Eugippo and stop for the views at the “Cantone” viewpoint. This is the terminus of the cable car from Borgo Maggiore below. Follow the road back around and walk up Contrada del Pianello.
The principal square of San Marino holds significant appeal as a gathering spot for both residents and visitors. From here, one can enjoy a splendid vista of the surrounding countryside. At the heart of the square stands a statue representing Freedom, mounted on a lavishly adorned pedestal. Dominating the square is the neo-Gothic town hall, featuring graceful arcades. Along the eastern side of the square, you’ll find stone residences that have been repurposed into fine dining establishments and upscale lodgings.
Situated in the square that bears its name and facing the Government Palace, there stands a statue crafted from exquisite Carrara marble. This remarkable sculpture was a generous gift to the Republic from the Countess of Berlin, Otilia Heyroth Wagener. The statue embodies the very essence of freedom, taking the form of a regally crowned warrior. This formidable figure strides forth with an outstretched right hand and a flag held aloft in the left. Its iconic representation can be found on the 2 cent coin, making it easily recognizable as a symbol of freedom and strength.
Location: Piazza della Libertà, San Marino | Hours: 24 hours | Price: Free
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The Palazzo Pubblico serves as the epicenter of political activity in the Republic of San Marino. Within its walls, sixty councilors, elected by the citizens of San Marino, convene to make decisions that shape the nation’s political landscape. Access to the Public Palace, as well as visits to the State Museum and the Towers, typically involves an entrance fee. To enhance the experience for tourists, the Tutto San Marino Card has been introduced, offering beneficiaries attractive discounts. Notably, during the summer months, from May to September, the changing of the guard occurs hourly, creating an iconic and frequently photographed spectacle. The changing of the guard in San Marino takes place each hour between 09.30 and 17.30. Inside the palace, visitors can also encounter a bust of Abraham Lincoln, who held a deep appreciation for the small Republic.
Location: Palazzo Pubblico, Contrada del Pianello, San Marino | Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. | Included in the 7 State Museums Ticket!
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Basilica del Santo
At the end of the square turn left and walk up Contrada del Collegio and you will see the Basilica in front of you.
The Basilica stands as the primary church in the City of San Marino. Located on Piazzale Domus Plebis in the northeastern outskirts of the city, adjacent to the Church of St. Peter, the Basilica is dedicated to Saint Marinus, the Republic’s founder and patron.
This church holds the distinction of serving as the co-cathedral of the Catholic Diocese of San Marino-Montefeltro. The present Basilica, constructed in 1836, replaces an earlier version from the 7th century. It embodies Neoclassical architectural style, featuring a porch adorned with eight Corinthian columns. Within its sacred confines, the Basilica preserves relics of St. Marino, securely enshrined for veneration by the faithful.
Location: Basilica del Santo, Piazzale Domus Plebis, San Marino
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First Tower or Torre Guaita
Leave the square in front of the Basilica by the path to the right of the one you entered, Contrada della Pieve. This joins Contrada dei Magazzeni, as you continue uphill. Turn left up the steps to reach another viewpoint. Walk along with the view to your left and climb the red path to the Prima Torre – La Rocca – Guaita.
The Guaita Tower, known also as Rocca Maggiore, is a remarkable structure constructed without foundations, perched directly upon the slopes of Mount Titano. In the annals of San Marino’s history, it is recorded that within this well-fortified nucleus, the initial community of San Marino’s citizens thrived. This tower’s strategic elevation and robust defenses rendered its interior an exceptionally secure haven of paramount importance for safeguarding the city. The tower’s interior was inhabited by a sentinel entrusted with the critical duty of raising alarms in the face of imminent threats or danger.
Location: Salita Alla Rocca, San Marino | Hours: January 02 to June 06: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. From June 07 to September 5: 9:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. September 06 to December 31: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. | Price: € 6.00 cumulative ticket with the Second Tower or another monument of your choice. € 8.00 full visit ticket for all monuments. | Included in the 7 State Museums Ticket!
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Passo delle Streghe
Before you entered the Guaita Tower there was a path to the right signposted “2nd Torre / Cesta”, take that path. This is the Passo delle Streghe.
The Passo delle Streghe in San Marino is situated outside the historic city walls of the Republic. It offers stunning panoramic views of the Adriatic Sea and the Romagna coast, stretching all the way to the valleys of Marche. Visiting this spot provides a unique sensory experience. The Witches’ Pass is a stone-carved path that connects the first and second towers. You can also reach it by taking the iconic blue cable car in this country.
Location: Passo delle Streghe 10-4 47890 Città di San Marino San Marino | Hours: 24 Hours | Price: Free
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Second Tower or Cesta Tower
From the Passo delle Streghe continue along Salita Alla Cesta until you reach Seconda Torre – Cesta.
From the Second Guaita Tower, a scenic path leads you to the Cesta Tower in approximately 5 minutes. Situated on the highest peak of Mount Titano, the Second Tower served as the secondary fortified defence structure on the mount. Throughout history, it also functioned as a prison, with some of the prison cells still accessible to visitors today. Presently, it houses the Museum of Ancient Weapons of San Marino, showcasing a valuable collection of weapons that provide an insightful journey through the evolution of weaponry, from the earliest bladed tools to breech-loading firearms.
Location: Salita Alla Cesta, San Marino | Hours: From 2/01 to 7/06: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. From 8/06 13/09: hours 8 a.m. -8 p.m. From 14/09 to 12/31: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. | Price: €6 cumulative with the First Tower | Website | Included in the 7 State Museums Ticket!
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Just before the steps leading up to the entrance to the second tower, there is a archway through the wall to the right, this leads to the third tower. The path soon turns into a forest path.
Montale is the third and final tower in San Marino. It can be reached via the “Towers” path or by parking your car at the Kursaal Congress Center parking lot. While the Third Tower cannot be visited, it remains intriguing because it lacks a ground-level entrance. There are no visible doors around its perimeter, as the only access was from above.
Location: Third Tower - Montale, San Marino | Hours: N/A | Price: Free
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San Marino Train
If the weather is inclement or you don’t like forest paths you can go back the way you came, otherwise continue along the forest path. You come to another viewpoint and you begin to descend. You reach a carpark and walk down Via J.f. Kennedy drive to the carpark entrance. Take the steps to your left which will take you to Via della Tana. As you meet the main road, Via del Voltone, there is a road off to your right.
This is all that remains from the historic Rimini to San Marino railroad, which operated from 1932 to 1945. Some years ago, a specific segment of this railway was meticulously refurbished, and based on posters, it appears that they occasionally operate the train on this restored section.
Visitors have the opportunity to traverse the 800-meter-long tunnel; all that’s required is to walk past the train stationed at the tunnel’s entrance. Approximately midway through, there’s an offshoot tunnel that provides an excellent vantage point overlooking San Marino below.
Entrance is free, and there’s a small informational board located outside.
Location: Via del Voltone, 72, 47890 San Marino di Urbino, San Marino | Hours: 24 Hours | Price: Free
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Church of San Quirino
Continue up the Via del Voltone, walking by the shops. At the roundabout cross over and walk along the Viale Federico D’urbino. After the car park on your right you will see a road sloping down, Via Paolo III, which you will need to ascend to reach the Church of San Quirino.
The Church of San Quirino, and the Capuchin Fathers’ Monastery (Convento dei Frati Cappuccini), are situated in the historic heart of San Marino atop Monte Titano, nestled on a quaint square along Via Paolo III. This sacred complex holds historical significance.
The Franciscan Capuchin Church of St. Quirin Monastery was established in 1549, built upon the remnants of an ancient chapel dedicated to St. Quirinus. Its construction commemorates the unsuccessful endeavor by Fabiano da Monte to seize the city on June 4, 1543. June 4th is a day dedicated to the celebration of this saint.
Over time, the complex expanded with the addition of three chapels and a sacristy to the left of the original structure. The consecration of the Church of St. Quirinus took place in 1709. Notably, the arcade of the Garibaldi Shrine, where his Legion was disbanded, can be found here. Restoration efforts were carried out during the 19th and 20th centuries.
Access to the church is granted through a broad stone staircase leading to a portico adorned with five arches, each supported by sturdy monolithic columns.
Continue up Via Paolo III and turn off before the bend to walk under the Portanova Gate. The roads leads you through Piazza Sant’Agata back to the Porta del Paese – Porta San Francesco.
Location: Chiesa di San Quirino, Viale Federico D'urbino, 27, 47890 Città di San Marino, San Marino
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