Max, parked for the night in Una National Park, Bosnia & Herzegovina.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Una National Park, Bosnia & Herzegovina.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? South towards Montenegro.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Welcome to the Ancient Land of the Free

The Republic of San Marino is the 5th smallest country in the world. It is only 24 sq miles in area, and has a population of under 35,000 people.

An official Republic since 1600, San Marino remains the oldest constitutional republic in the world, almost twice as old as the second place United States. It's been an independent neutral country since the year 301 when it was founded! And, it's a really fascinating place to visit!

We left Rimini at about 10:00am, and drove the 12 kms (7.5 miles) to the San Marino border. There is no border station despite the fact that San Marino is not part of the European Union. San Marino does use the Euro as currency though.

We drove another 8 kms (5 miles) into the country, and we parked below the main city at a free lot. The closer you get to the main city of San Marino, the more you will have to pay for parking! So, we had some hiking to do to get to the city, which is located on top of a mountain!

There is a 1.5 km long cable car you can take to get to the top, but it's closed for renovations until mid-April.

We started walking, and came across a tunnel. It turns out that an old railway line used to take people to the top, and it wound it's way through the mountain to do so. Unfortunately, only one section of the tunnel is open to walk through.

Kevin, at the old railway tunnel in San Marino.

Inside the tunnel.

We came across the San Marino cemetery. They definitely do things differently. 

Ruth at the San Marino cemetery.

All of the crypts have a photo of the person inside.

We continued our uphill climb and arrived at a pay parking garage built into the mountain. Following the signs, we got to a free elevator that takes you up about 9 stories where you arrive at another level, then walk and take yet another elevator to the city gates. Yes, you could walk but it's a much longer route. There are several other pay parking lots along the way, including one that has RV parking and dump station.

Starting to get a view. 
But we're not at the top yet!

We finally arrived at the main gate to the old city. There is a policeman there stopping traffic so that pedestrians can safely cross the road. He was so good with his hand signals, I wish we would have taken a video.

San Marino police officer.

Looking down from the old city.

Inside the old city of San Marino.

San Marino.

This church was built in the 1100's.

Near the top of the old city.

Streets too narrow for cars.

There are a couple of restaurants near the top of the old city, but one was closed. The area was still open though, so we sat and had our packed lunch with a beautiful view!

Lunch in San Marino.

There are three different fortifications at the top of the ridge. This one was built in the 1100's.

We climbed these old steps to get a view.

And this is the view we got!

Us, and the view.

And looking back the other way.

Wow. Now that's a castle!

The third tower, built in the 1300's.

Kevin, and a view!

We had a few options on how to get back to the car, and in typical Kevin and Ruth fashion, we chose the steep hiking trail on the other side of the cliff! Didn't take many pictures, but it was a fun trail with stairs and ropes to hang on to!

Ruth, hiking back down.

A San Marino gas station. 
Just pull up to the side of the road!

I had our GPS tracker on, and we had done 8 kms (5 miles) of walking by the time we arrived back at the car.

Leaving San Marino, and back into Italy.
The entrance sign leading the other way into San Marino reads 
"Welcome to the ancient land of the free"

An excellent visit to the Republic of San Marino, the 30th country we have been to.

Today, another long driving day as we head 330 kms (205 miles) to the other side of the Italy where we have a little village house rented in the countryside for a full week!

Baby in the family?


  1. Wow. I had heard of San Marino, but never had investigated. I like the idea of the photo on the side of the crypt. Easier to connect with the remains of the person inside. What a cool place.

    1. We really enjoyed our day in San Marino but you probably don't need much more than a to explore it.

      It is a nice idea of having the picture on their crypt. They also had another section to the cemetery that had lots of mausoleums in it. Some of them are quite large. We will have to get a picture of those a some point, they were interesting too.

  2. I am puzzling over the crenulated walls on that ancient castle. Which bunch of invaders would climb that hill and start a fight along the cliff? I can see why there is no moat. (!) Maybe they had skyhooks . Hmm.

    1. Maybe that is why they have never been to war, nobody could get up there to try and start one! ;-)

      We hiked down those steep cliffs and it would certainly not be easy going up them. Definitely no moat needed there.

  3. Quite an interesting hike and more interesting history.

  4. Wow, very cool little country! Will have to put this on our list to hopefully visit someday!
    When we visited the town of Pico (south of Rome) in 2006 where my husband's grandfather was born and raised before coming to America in the 1930s, we visited the cemetery which looked was just like this one...crypt's with pictures of the deceased on them. My husband instantly noticed his great-grandmother's crypt from the photo that also used to hang in his grandfather's house!

    1. Highly recommend a visit to San Marino if you are in the area.

      Nice that your husband was able to easily notice his great-grandmother's crypt. I like the idea of having a picture displayed on it.

  5. Wow, beautiful spot. You will also enjoy the cemetaries in France, very decorated. We stayed in the mountains near Pisa and Lucca and our house was from 1500, we had to park our car way on the other side as the road was so narrow and haul all our stuff in by hand. Good thing there was four of us.

    1. The house we are staying in now, high up on a mountain is supposed to be 800 years old and we had the same problem. We had to park down the street and carry our stuff up to the house. Luckily we don't have very much stuff. :-)

  6. Very neat ancient city! I love those kinds of places.

    1. There are actually quite a few of these ancient cities, or medieval towns all around this area. Very beautiful area near San Marino.

  7. I didn't know a thing about San Marino. I think your header photo captured all 24 sq.
    The cemetery is beautiful. I think I would want to pick out my photo before I die. I would probably have one put on back when I was in my 20's.
    The old city is lovely. Just image if the walls could talk what a story they would tell. An excellent visit indeed.

    1. Well hopefully you now know more about San Marino. :-)

      We have always wondered what life was like back then and what those walls have seen and experienced. Truly amazing!

  8. Holy Moly -- 30th country you've been to! So far ...!

    1. Yep, and we will be adding another 3 to the list before we head back home to Canada. I am sure you have seen many countries as well!

  9. We loved San Marino. Such dramatic scenery! Did you notice all the aires (free parking) below the castle? We stayed in the campground there which was, as you can imagine, very plush. Expensive country but you at least you can be in and out quickly.

    1. We enjoyed our time there to, very beautiful country. We did see quite a few aires but they didn't look free although if you go even lower down the hill there were places that RV's could park for free.

      Yes, it is an expensive country and that is why we decided to not stay there overnight but instead stayed overnight in Rimini and then just drove there for the day.

  10. Well now you can add another country to your list.

  11. Fantastic adventure you two, and congrats on country #30 - one I'd love to see as well. Just one question. If walking steep hills is too much for a person are there other (easier) ways to see the sights? (Public transport? Taxi? Etc?)

    1. The more steep hills you walk, the easier they get. :-)

      In this situation, the cable car would normally be operating, and that would make it very easy.

    2. Very good advice. That's how we made it to the top of Saddleback Mountain two weeks ago. The more you do it the better you get.

      As for the crypts, I guess it's like anything else. Better to know what's on the inside before you open it up :)

    3. Dianne, there was also bus service, I didn't notice taxis but I am sure that they were there too.

      Chris, this is why we don't ever stop hiking.

      I think if you opened the crypt, what is inside is not going to look anything like the picture on the outside. ;-) It does however make the experience of visiting the crypt more personal.


We love hearing from you! Please take the time to leave a comment...