The 11th-century Guaita fortress sits on Monte Titano overlooking the city of San Marino
Photo by Martin Holland  –  Link

San Marino


  Italian Currency:  Euro

San Marino, a microstate in north central Italy, is one of the smallest independent countries in the world (after Vatican City, Monaco, Nauru and Tuvalu) and the oldest surviving sovereign state. It has a population of just 33,000, which is a whopping 90 times smaller than the population of Rome. And yet despite its size, San Marino's location among picturesque mountains and historic towns makes it a worthwhile destination. It's also an easy one hour and 45 minute drive from Bologna, so you can take a day trip on your next Italian holiday.

Although San Marino (also known as the Most Serene Republic of San Marino) is distinct from Italy, the primary language spoken here is Italian. If you haven't brushed up on yours, though, don't worry: you shouldn't have any problems using English to get around. There's no airport here, but you won't need your passport to enter if you're coming from Italy. (However they do offer novelty passport stamps at the tourist department as a souvenir!)

The Three Towers

The most famous sites in all of San Marino are the Three Towers that were built on the peaks of Monte Titano in San Marino city, the capital. These landmarks are the 11th-century Torre Guaita, the 13th-century Torre Cesta and the 14th-century Torre Montale. Walking tours in San Marino will take you to all three towers, but Montale is closed to the public.