Walking Tour of San Marino
San Marino is the oldest and smallest Republic in the world. It is located to the northeast of Rome, near the Adriatic coast, and is entirely surrounded by Italy. The town of San Marino is a medieval gem of a city, heavily fortified by its Tre Castelli (Three Castles) and made more impregnable because of its setting, at the very top of Mount Titano. The narrow, cobblestone streets and incredibly well-preserved and well-maintained buildings make it an utter pleasure to experience. It is almost “Disney-esque” in its perfection. The only drawbacks are the steep streets and stairs which seem to head only upward. There are numerous shops and restaurants in this principality, totally geared for tourism. Walk the walls from castle to castle for stupendous views of the surrounding countryside. Feel free to deviate from the walk below to savor the ambience of the lovely town.
My walk begins in the Piazza della Liberta, location of the Palazzo del Governo (also known as the Palazzo Pubblico), with its uniformed guards. Nearby, in Piazzale Domus Plebis, is the Basilica del Santo, the republic’s Cathedral.
From here, walk uphill, on the steep, cobblestone streets, which wind past numerous shops and restaurants, to the first of the city’s three castles. The first fortress is called Rocca Guaita, and dates to the 11th century (although rebuilt and restored over the years). Until fairly recently, it served as a prison.
Once here, you can access the second tower, Rocca Cesta, by taking the Paseo delle Streghe and Salita Alla Cesta, an enjoyable, if exerting, stroll along the city’s fortifications. This tower is perched at the tip of Mount Titano, and offers spectacular views of the countryside below. The castle now houses a museum of armament and weapons. From here, you can also see the third tower, Rocca Montale, on an isolated outcrop to the south. It was, no doubt, a lookout post and is closed to visitors. From Rocca Cesta, work your way downhill to Viale Antonio Onofrio, and walk north onto Via Donna Felicissima. To the left, on Via Basillicus, you will find the old St Francis Church, now a museum. Continue north, from here, to return to Piazza della Libera, where you began.