September 2019: I’ll be honest, the only reason why I went to San Marino is because it constitutes a new country. I was in Venice with my friends and because we were so close, we decided to visit San Marino for a day. My friend Richard hired a SUV and a guide, and along with him and his family, we set off to see the micro-state of San Marino-a two-hour drive from Venice. 

About San Marino

San Marino is a Micro-State, meaning a sovereign country with a small amount of land-only approx. 18 miles long and with a small population. It is landlocked, located in in the mountains of Italy just south of Venice and the citizens speak Italian.  It is considered to be the oldest republic founded approx. 2000 years ago by a monk, and for this reason was even recognized by Abraham Lincoln, who San Marino made an honorary citizen. The country has a wealthy and aging population. Due to the large population of older vulnerable wealthy men, San Marino has taken steps to protect them and their bank accounts from predatorial young women by banning female domestic servants under 50.  

Location of San Marino

Old City of San Marino

There isn’t much of a border when entering San Marino, just a sign. The country is hilly, and I noticed a few interesting mountain top castles in the area, likely outside of the San Marino boundaries in Italy. The old town is the most interesting part of San Marino and is located near the giant fortified walls and castle that sits on a mountain top. We drove up a steep hill and parked outside the walls of the old town and from there explored on foot. 

View from old town of Italy below

San Marino Police

Old Fortification

San Marino doesn’t have any real big tourist attractions and the main reason why tourists visit is to enter a new country. Unlike Italy, with its old and gracefully aging buildings, San Marino has tactlessly over-restored all its old buildings giving them a new appearance and less charm. The most interesting attraction to me was the torture museum. What is there not to love about a collection of medieval torture devices. The museum has an extensive collection of grueling torture devices that were used on the poor souls from the medieval ages.

Gateway to Old City

Iron Maiden-aside from the great name, it was used to crush a person

A head crushing device

A spiked chair

it’s not surprising that there are many shops in the old city selling tourist trinkets and postcards, but it was strange that there were so many shops selling fake military grade looking rifles and pistols. 

Fake Gun Shop

We visited the parliament building and saw where the meeting place for congress. I was scolded for sitting in one of the parliamentary chairs by a woman monitoring us via camera. 

Parliament Building where congress meets

Aside from the torture museum, the best part of San Marino is its views from the mountain top castle. We had a lot of fun exploring the Guaita Tower that involves climbing a steep ladder to a tower with an incredible view. Then we relaxed at a restaurant and ordered some overpriced Italian food with red wine before heading back to Venice for the night. 

Inside an all white chapel

View from the castle top

Guaita Tower

12 + 15 =

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