What to do in San Marino? This tiny country with its stunning capital San Marino City has plenty to offer, from medieval architecture to beautiful views and quirky museums. Read on to find out what you can do in San Marino City.
We decided to visit San Marino with our baby boy in May 2018. I was uncomfortable with the idea of flying with a six month old baby so a road trip was the best solution for us. On the way to San Marino we made a pit stop in Imola to see the castle and the F1 racecourse and on our way back we admired the Roman past of Rimini. We spent three nights and two full days in San Marino City. It was a wonderful weekend trip and a great experience as our first proper family trip.
we really loved our weekend break in San Marino
There are no border controls or passport checks between Italy and the independent micro-state of San Marino. One second you’re driving in Italy and another you’ve passed under a pedestrian bridge which marks the entrance to the Republic of San Marino. In the distance you can see the three towers high up on Monte Titano where San Marino City is situated. Luckily, it was a warm May evening and we got beautiful views of San Marino City as we were driving uphill. I booked a hotel right in the historical center of San Marino City which was perfect for sightseeing with the baby.
We managed to visit all the major sights in San Marino City and I also took the cable car down to Borgo Maggiore (one of the nine settlements or castelli which constitute the Republic of San Marino). It’s easy to visit all the listed tourist attractions below with the baby but you need to have a baby carrier with you to be able to explore the towers (can’t be done with a stroller). Remember, San Marino City is situated on the Mount Titano (739m) so there’s a lot of uphill/downhill walking throughout the historical city center.
Sismondo Castle in Rimini
After we left San Marino we drove to Rimini. That was a short drive because Rimini is only 24km away from San Marino. I knew that Rimini is a popular Italian seaside town full of beach bars. However, we didn’t go to Rimini to spend some time at its long sandy beach but to see its castle and other interesting landmarks.
We found free parking in Rimini because I discovered a useful parking website which I bookmarked for future use but somehow I lost all my bookmarks the other day so I can’t share that website with you. From the free car park we walked for less than 15 minutes to the Malatesta Castle (Castel Sismondo). On our way to the castle we went through the Roman arch, Porta Montanara. That was our first glimpse of Roman Rimini. We were also close to the ruins of the Roman Amphitheater during our walk around Rimini but we decided to skip it because we’d seen roman amphitheaters in better conditions elsewhere.
The Sismondo Castle was built in 15th century by Sigismondo Pandolfo, the most famous lord of Rimini. Unfortunately, like the castle in Imola this one was also closed (because it was Monday) so we only took some photos and headed towards the city center. There’s a big building site next to the castle and from what we read it’s the site of the new museum dedicated to Federico Fellini, probably the most famous Italian film director of all times.
in San Marino, May 2018
The usual advice for the first time travel with a baby is to either go somewhere you’ve been before and know quite well so you don’t feel pressure to see it all or to choose a relaxing holiday in the countryside or by the sea where you don’t have much going on so you can all relax and follow the baby’s usual schedule of feeding and sleeping times. But I wanted to go somewhere new, so that it’d be exciting for us all. I was reluctant to fly with my six and a half month old baby and felt that a road trip is a better solution for me. That decision ruled out a lot of places. Also, I thought that we shouldn’t drive for more than 5 or 6 hours in one direction. Salzburg was my initial idea but then I thought of Italy and chose Udine as our first day trip abroad. Suddenly it hit me: There’s a tiny country in the middle of Italy which I haven’t visited yet. San Marino! I quickly looked for accommodation options and read about sights in San Marino (haven’t found a lot of blog posts about it though) before I shared my decision with the husband. He too was more inclined to visit San Marino than to go to Austria because it meant that we get to visit a new country. Furthermore, there’s a rather surprising connection between Croatia and San Marino because San Marino was founded by Saint Marinus, a stonecutter from the island Rab in Croatia. Back then (4th century) Rab was a part of the Roman province of Dalmatia from where St.Marinus fled to Rimini before he founded San Marino on Mount Titano.
I always check the length of a road trip on Google maps and on ViaMichelin site and San Marino was exactly what I asked for: five and a half hours drive. However, the actual trip lasted longer because we had to take more stops than I’d planned and we visited Imola on the way to San Marino. The return trip was a bit shorter because we didn’t have any car problems. But we also visited Rimini before we headed home so again the trip lasted more than the initial assessment.
Imola’s castle Rocca Sforzesca
I’ve decided to visit Imola on our road trip to San Marino. It’s right on the way to San Marino so it’s a convenient stop but it wasn’t exactly half way on our route so stops at the service stations along the motorway were needed too. Unfortunately we also had a few problems on our way to Imola. Firstly, our baby’s music broke down and then we had a flat tyre just past Padua. My husband quickly changed it but he said that we’d need to fix it because apparently you can’t drive fast or too far with a spare tyre which meant that a visit to a garage in Imola was a must. Therefore, it took us much longer to reach San Marino in the end. However, our car problems didn’t deter us from our sightseeing plan of Imola and we firstly walked around and saw what I’d planned and then we sorted out the car.
Imola is a town in Emilia-Romagna region of Italy not far from Bologna which is considered to be the gastronomical center of Italy. Imola was famous for hosting the Formula One San Marino Grand Prix at its racecourse Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari. The F1 race of San Marino isn’t held anymore and nowadays Imola’s racecourse is used for car and motorbike races. It’s here that the famous F1 driver Ayrton Senna met his tragic end in 1994. Of course, we just had to visit the racecourse but our first stop was Imola’s Castle.
Imola’s castle Rocca Sforzesca