San Marino had always been, in my imagination, a mythical place.
When I heard about witches and sabbath, my thoughts turned to Monte Titano. Do not ask me why, perhaps as a child I had read some story that had the profile of the hill as an illustration.
In more recent times however San Marino intrigued me for being a State within a State, a small and independent area surrounded by “foreigners”.
Finally, last year we had the opportunity to spend a weekend in the area and visit the longed Serenissima Repubblica di San Marino.
We stayed in a holiday center very well maintained and equipped, ideal starting point for excursions.
If you plan to travel by car, our advice is not to go to the center with it, but to park it next to the cable car station at Borgo Maggiore and rise more easily without having to have the stress of finding a parking lot.
In Borgo Maggiore there are a few parking lots where you have to pay a parking fee, but if allow few minutes walk to the station, you will be able to leave your car in the free parking areas.
Taking the funicular, you can also enjoy the beautiful landscape.
The round-trip costs € 4.50 per person and the opening hours will vary between summer and winter: the first ride is at h. 7:50 all year round, and the last one in winter varies from h.18.30 in winter to h. 1:00 in summer.
The arrival station is the one of the Old Town behind the City Hall.
Palazzo Pubblico is the seat of state institutions and is open for visitors all year round except Christmas, January 1st, and on the afternoon of November 2nd.
The cost of the ticket is € 3.00 and is really worth a visit from an architectural and historical point of view.
Inside you can find explanatory panels on the history of the Republic and its coat of arms.
Not all the internal rooms are open to visitors, but among those available you can see the Hall of the Council where parliament sits.
Among the things you can not miss a visit in San Marino are the towers, San Marino symbol, which are commonly called Prima Torre, Seconda Torre and Terza Torre but they have a proper name, respectively Rocca Guaita , Rocca Cesta and Montale.
It ‘s beautiful to climb on the path that leads to the first tower and from there, through the Witches passage, proceed to the second tower which houses the Museum of Ancient Arms.
The cost of the combined ticket for the two towers is 3.00 € and allows to access the fortifications exploring big and small rooms, stairs and guard posts that offer exceptional views towards the cliffs and the plain below.
Continuing our walk we arrived at the Montale, the third tower, the smallest of the three that was in the best position. In this tower there was a terrible and notorious prison that was 8 meters deep: the bottom of the tower. Creepy, isn’t it?
Although Palazzo del Popolo and the Three Towers are the main attraction of the historical center, the church deserves a visit. The Basilica del Santo, in neoclassical style, contains the urn with the remains of San Marino and the apse is carved into the rock.
It is a fairly new building, compared to the other monuments of the city, and the huge facade even seems a bit too much for the tight square where the Basilica stands.
A couple of things more? Not far from Porta San Francesco is the Torture Museum. If you want to browse through gruesome and unusual tools, the museum of San Marino preserves some rare torture devices. The cost of the ticket is € 8.00.
We chose a visit to Palazzo SUMS where at that time there was a Pop Art temporary exhibition, with some of my favorite artists: “American Painting of the twentieth century, from Hoppert to Warhol.”
Do not leave the center before walking through the narrow streets and small squares, exploring the true heart of San Marino, the souvenir shops and those with luxury accessories.
If you want tips and information about current events, you can consult the tourist portal of San Marino.