A case of the superlatives- the oldest Most Serene Republic of San Marino

san marino

One of the oldest countries in the world and parallelly also one of the smallest of them all, the distinction of the European microstate of San Marino is one resting on the edges of the extreme indeed. Historic is what emerges as the character of this mountainous nation- in being the oldest extant sovereign state, as well as the oldest constitutional republic, the status of the country is one undeniably remarkable along every element of what makes it up. And yet that is not just about everything about San Marino that can be summed up in superlative references of it. For in also its peculiarly lesser treaded premise, the country is steeped in yet another allusion in terms of the ‘most’- being the least visited of all microstates harboured within the most visited continent of Europe despite being a haven of uniquities galore.

Why this low influx of international tourists to San Marino strikes as a surprise in some anomaly though has to do with the essence of it that isn’t entirely absorbed by its distinguished continuance in and through history. No less spectacular a sight in its unfurling, nestled as it is in the mountains near the Adriatic Sea and ensconced by the breathtaking vistas of the Italian landscape, the very aptly conjured identity of the country as the Most Serene Republic of San Marino establishes immediately the mighty beauty that is definitely is, even when one recognises indeed that this reference in serenity still plays to the basic nature of what essentially identifies and establishes as a republic instead. But allowing oneself the luxury of being able to be lost in translation to incorporate in consideration also the allure etched along the many a frequent encounters of its architecture essentially laden with history as well and the Sammarinese identity is one equally steeped in its own vista of aesthetic richness.

In such grand revealing of its being as an existence prideous in the legacy of its history and boasting an array of beauties both natural and man made in their manifestation, San Marino’s finding of lesser favor with tourists otherwise swearing by the entire enriching experience in European excellence is some sort of a puzzle to unravel. But no less curious would be such musings of the country’s way of life that sees the tourism sector emerging to be an adequately integral component in economic consideration. Accompanying also such arousing of understanding would be a further revelation in distinction again of being among the more well off countries of the world. With a GDP at par with some of the globally most developed nations, San Marino resides in a reality that is as dynamic as what its past status in historic significance had rendered it worthy of.

Established thus in its rich status, both in history and at present and in terms relevant to each specific period of time in mention, and boasting thereof a continuity that sits perfectly in sync with its claim as a continuously independent nation state since forever, San Marino sure presents itself as a wonder in every dimension of its maverick exploration. And yet, for and despite all its resplendence in virtually every capacity of what makes it up so special indeed an assertion even across the gigantic prominences of the most territorially blessed expanses of the world, this is a nation forever inviting of everyone fortunate enough to bear knowledge about this surely distinctive existence of a republic.

san marino streets
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The richness of San Marino might have forever stood out in numerous distinctions of their own but in such idealistic notions that allow one and all to unhesitantly set foot in its tiny but magnanimous state of serene existence. Not extravagant a being in living and exploring, even when its standards and ways of life and of living conditions are no any less exemplary than the richest regions of Italy is this assertion of the independence that San Marino exhibits as an innate mannerism of its character. As the only Italian city- state to have remained independent ever since from its ancient origins to its present day existence, San Marino is proud also in the bearing for itself such individuality that has led them to eke out for themselves their specific identity as the Sammarinese even when the strength of their number is one that can be rounded up in a mere thousands. But much like its geographical span that does nothing to define its larger than life expression in living, it also is the size of its population that is but a mere stating of it in absolute terms and does little to actually depict the recurring reach of its resplendent reality.

This reality of so wide a range in welcomeness that we are raving about is the surprisingly non expensive nature of the country so exuberant an existence along every strand of what it is that matters. In all its conjuring up for itself a world of wealth within that minuscule mass of landlocked being, San Marino is rather relaxed in its overall expenses for tourists which explains the roughly 3 million tourist footfalls that it experiences. And yet to say that San Marino is not as extensively visited as some of its counterparts might make for a citing in some irony but such is the immersive experience afforded by this seating in all things stupendous that calls for indeed another world of earthlings to gape at the awe inspiring settings of it.

san marino oldest republic
Source: Elle Decor

Much of the touristry buzz that San Marino witnesses unfolds along the expanse of its eponymous capital. Perched high up on the highest point of the country that which happens to be the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Monte Titano, the City of San Marino reveals as a gateway to the charm held intact within the entire microstate of historic leanings. Most prominent in its medieval walled old town and narrow and steep but long and winding cobblestoned streets, the capital city though most exemplarily commands for itself a substance of more wholesome character. Overlooked by the Three Towers namely Guaita, Cesta and Montale that have been standing as castle like citadels each upon the three different peaks of Monte Titano is this city of namesake resonance so capturing of its spirit in this aspect of its physicality that also acquires identity through their depiction upon the national flag.

Interestingly though, this particular element so crucial to the entire San Morino existence in history as well as in continuation is such an essential component of the whole cultural expression of the country that sees more than evident influence of it asserted along its trails of gastronomy. Most known in its dishing out of the trademark dessert called the Torta Tre Monti is the country that draws again upon this particular recognition of a landmark integral indeed to the very existence of it.

Traditionally and truly Sammarinese a preparation in sweetness, with typically five thin layers of wafers held together by hazelnut cream and covered in dark chocolate fondant, this is not surprisingly indeed considered the national dessert of San Marino. And while the torta tre monti is not very different from the other many traditional and layered sweets that the delightful country takes equal delight in, it sure is the most evocative in reference of what is Italy’s last of her independent hill towns. Charming even in its simplicity, much like the land itself from which it derives its flavour, this ‘three mountain cake’ preludes other equally authentic bakes of sumptuousness along the culinary coursing of the country. Rather popular is a certain Christmas cake called the Bustrengo that is delicious enough a treat to be enjoyed year round as well that emerges as a fruity taste of tradition.

With honey, nuts and dried fruits lending upon this cake a distinctively rich flavour even as some dices of apple and the rind of lemons and oranges delivers the definite fruit feels along with other typical ingredients of a cake but interesting still in its use of breadcrumbs or even stale bread, the Bustrengo bakes up as rich and dense and moist cake truly evocative of all the Christmas vibes in its very mention. But it isn’t just the curious compilation of ingredients that make the festive preparation special. Equally unique and traditional is its method of cooking that sees the cake derive its flavour and characteristic essence from a fireplace in which it is placed in a copper pot with the lid covered in hot coals.

The food scene in San Marino sure is as dramatic as what naturally follows as a summation of the couple some accounts above of its sweet tales. And that is what makes eating and dining at one of the world’s oldest countries luring enough a ploy for tourists to flock to its expanse, albeit still at a lesser scale and pace than some of the others of its kind- but growing nonetheless at a greater speed among them all! But while exploring the local cuisine of a place is very necessary indeed a part of actual exploration of its essence, the touristry pursuit of today’s times are also excited by prospects in more commercial leanings. And this proves to be another ground of dominance for San Marino to entice more and more international travelers with its lucrative promise of tax free shopping.

Everything from luxury products to artisan goods as well as indulgent and addictive buys in San Marino escape the criteria of the tax imposition mandatory elsewhere. On a different note though, the buying and selling of historic coins and stamps also finds a peculiar significance in the touristry context, as being in fact one of the main sources of income from its ever growing popularity as a definite tourist destination.

A land thus of oddities galore, but interestingly standout across each of its myriad influences, whether that be such distinctions rather well known or additional such entailing as being probably the only diarchy in the world, remarkable also in its staunch stance in political neutrality as well as in its use of the Euro as its official currency even when not being a member of the European Union or the European Economic Area, San Marino surely has been always as unique in its identity as any country can aspire to be. Its historical basis might be the ground of its popularity first and foremost but outside this particular facet of existence, San Marino’s character is one overwhelmingly urban and completely cosmopolitan.

That, despite its prevalence still as a largely calm and peaceful nation owing in part to its underratedness on the world map and coupled with unbelievably gorgeous views that it affords both in and outside its geographic limits assertive enough even in all that mere 23.6 square miles expanse of land, and the Most Serene Republic of San Marino truly is a destination dedicated to all its distinguished steepings in definiteness. And don’t discount in any way the picture perfect prettiness of its photogenic presentation, as one that dons over itself every single charm of the days and the hours and the nights and the seasons as an ethereal experience to live and treasure and cherish and capture indeed for a lifetime of unparalleled moments in memories. Spectacular for sure it is the different aesthetics that play out from within the San Marino expanse of such tininess but in such distinctly different renditions of its singular essence curated across a range of many diametric dimensions that is paradise indeed to say the least as what one would definitely concur in the unbelievable fairytale like renditions of its pretty enchanted reality.