San Marino

San Marino is the smallest republic in the world. Though it has a total area of only 24 square miles it is an important tourist destination, with thousands of visitors flocking to it each day in the summer months. It is also a playground for the rich and the famous with affluence put on display everywhere… whether it’s the long white luxurious yachts that line the marina, the designer boutiques that line the streets or the flash speedsters that tear through the streets.

San Marino is unique because of its medieval characteristics and because, in spite of its size, it has managed to stay independent through most of its history. The country is located mostly on the slopes of Monte Titano in the northern Apennines of Italy, and its impressive walls of the fortress on the hill is looked at from the Adriatic coast like an off-colour crown in a clear-glass case in the east. The language of the court is of course Italian, and you will not need a passport to travel there from Italy. Most people in the country are Roman Catholic.

San Marino claims to be the oldest republic in the world. Its birth as an independent state dates back to 301 A.D during the persecutions by Emperor Diocletian. A Christian stonecutter, Marinus (later Saint Marinus), left his native island of Arbe in Dalmatia to establish a small community of Christians and managed to keep itself away from disputes during the Middle Ages. The only time its independence was threatened was when the pope censured the republic in the 13th century when the country aligned itself with a group called the Giheb-

ellines. Cesare Borgia controlled the republic in 1503. San Marino was once again deemed a republic by the pope in 1631. In 1862 the republic placed itself under the protection of the Kingdom of Italy.

San Marino adopted a Fascist form of government during World War II, and despite its avowed neutrality was bombed by the Allies. The republic departed from its traditional isolationist policy by signing the limited nuclear test-ban treaty in 1963.

A lot of importance is given to the history of the region. Your mind will be taken to a time when horse riding gallant soldiers fought to defend their land. To bring this history to life and to pay tribute to the brave ancestors of the land a traditional crossbow tournament is staged on the 3rd of September each year.

There are no longer any border formalities at Dogana, so the only green channel that you pass through is the countryside. The country has only a few towns, the largest of these is the capital, also named San Marino. The only other towns of significance are Borgo Maggiore and Serravalle. Traces of 14th, 15th and 16th century walls surround the three peaks of Monte Titano. On the northernmost peak is the town of San Marino. A medieval-style castle on the highest edge of the peak overlooks the town. Several other buildings of the town are built in similar style.

Agriculture is the chief occupation of the people. The principal crops are grains and grapes. Stone from mountain quarries and wine made from the local grapes are chief exports. Postage stamps are one of the country’s chief sources of revenue, and are valued by collectors. Tourists also bring income to San Marino, and some small handicraft industries are based on the tourist trade. The agricultural income generated from such a tiny territory can best be described as modest, yet the San Marinese boast one of the highest per capita incomes in Europe; earned almost entirely from tourism.

Although tourism is being given a lot of importance, visitors to San Marino spend only a day here. There are camping grounds in the hills below the castle, and a couple of hotels in the capital. Around three million visitors come to San Marino each year. Apart from Italians, San Marino also attracts a number of international tourists.