Should you visit San Marino?

I love microstates. I love how they survived history to remain independent. They survived aggression by bigger powers and show a middle finger to expectations of rationalisation, logic and simplification. In 2015 I made a stop in the Most Serene Republic of San Marino.

Because usually those microstates don’t have generic forms of government. Not just a president, king or prince. Andorra has co-princes, San Marino has captain regents (capitani reggenti). Which is a fitting name. The word ‘captain’ derives from the Greek κατεπάνω (the one which is at the the head) and the Latin capitanus (from caput, head).

I also love how these mini-countries do their best to act big. Like a little brother imitating his big brother. Monaco has a heliport and many sporting events such as the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix or the Monte-Carlo Rally

San Marino also had a F1 Grand Prix, run at Imola. F1 is returning to Imola this year but the San Marino name is not returning. Instead it will be called the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix or in full Formula 1 Emirates Gran Premio dell’Emilia-Romagna.

That is actually the excuse to write this blogpost. Busted. 


Emilia-Romagna has a lousy flag. 

And I love flags so my eyes hurt here. It’s basically a corporate logo and that’s a no-no.  Why? Just watch this video.

The flag of San Marino is awesome. Striking colours, recognizable. 

San Marino?

So what is San Marino? It is also known as the Most Serene Republic of San Marino (Serenissima Repubblica di San Marino), is a microstate in Southern Europe completely enclosed by Italy.

Located on the northeastern side of the Apennine Mountains, San Marino covers a land area of just over 61 km2 (24 sq mi), and has a population of some 33.000. 

Its capital is the City of San Marino and its largest settlement is Dogana. The capital is set at the highest point of the country on a steep mountain. San Marino’s official language is Italian, although Romagnol is the historical language and still in existence in a non-official capacity.

The country derives its name from Saint Marinus, a stonemason from the then Roman island of Rab, in modern-day Croatia. Born in 275 AD, Marinus participated in the reconstruction of Rimini‘s city walls after their destruction by Liburnian pirates. 

Marinus then went on to found an independent monastic community on Monte Titano in 301 AD; thus, San Marino lays claim to being the oldest extant sovereign state, as well as the oldest constitutional republic.


You want to impress? Dress to impress? The Sanmarinese military won’t invade Italy, but they have bespoke uniforms.

The Guard of the Grand and General Council (Guardia del Consiglio Grande e Generale) is commonly known as The Guard of the Council or locally as the Guard of Noble was formed in 1741.It’s a volunteer unit with ceremonial duties. Due to its striking blue, white, and gold uniform, it is perhaps the best-known part of the Sammarinese military.

The functions of the Guard of the Council are to protect the captains regent, and to defend the Grand and General Council during its formal sessions. They also act as ceremonial bodyguards to government officials at both state and church festivals. 

The Guard of the Rock (Guardia di Rocca) is a front-line military unit in the San Marino armed forces. Its precise origin is difficult to pinpoint due to amalgamations. Its role was last redefined by statute in 1987, and it probably came into being as a military branch in 1754. 

The Guard of the Rock are the state border patrol, with responsibility for patrolling borders and defending them.[8] In their role as Fortress Guards they are also responsible for the guarding of the Palazzo Pubblico in San Marino City, which is the seat of national government. 

In this role, they are the forces most visible to tourists, and known for their colourful ceremony of changing the guard. 

Under the 1987 statute, the Guard of the Rock are all enrolled as ‘Criminal Police Officers’ (in addition to their military role) and act to assist the police in investigating major crime.

There are other branches but I don’t have photos of them.

Why go to San Marino?

Frank, Steve and I stayed only a couple of hours in San Marino. We were there in 2015 so I can’t give you firm tips. But here ar links to Wikitravel and the official San Marino tourism site. 

You should go if:

  • You love quirky destinations.
  • You want to add a country to your tally.
  • You want to check in on Swarm.
  • You want to do something special.

I want to go back and spend just a few more hours. 

With input of Wikipedia for text and the flags.

19 Comments Add yours

    1. Timothy says:

      Yes, I think it is. I love the backstory of such places.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. pedmar10 says:

    Pretty place indeed, not been but my all time favorite is Luxembourg as small States ::)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Timothy says:

      And it’s more nearby 🙂


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