Something I didn't know before moving overseas is that
there are six small countries or "microstates" that exist within Europe.
Some you may know like...
Others may be more foreign like...
Malta, an island between Italy and north Africa
Andorra, between Spain and France
San Marino, in north-central Italy
In two years we've managed to visit Monaco and Vatican City .
This past month we decided to take a day trip to Ravenna, Italy
and I realized that San Marino was only one hour away.
Prime time to add another microstate to the list!
Have you ever been to a microstate?
We'd love to hear about it in the comments!
We started the drive at 8:00am and reached San Marino by 11:00am.
For parking we followed signs for the cable car "funivia" and
turned right at the first parking sign for the funivia.
I believe it was parking lot #13, which had lots of free parking and a restroom.
A short walk uphill takes you to the funivia station where you can pay a small fee to reach the top.
We decided to walk further uphill to the Costa dell'Arnella pedestrian footpath,
which eventually brought us to Porta della Rupe (Rupe Gate) where we entered the city walls.
Founded as a monastery in 301 CE by Saint Marinus
Locals are called Sammarinese.
Abraham Lincoln was named an honorary citizen.
It is the only country with more vehicles than people.
The country remained neutral during both world wars.
Euro is the currency, but it is not part of the EU or the Euro Zone.
Once can view the Adriatic Sea from San Marino.
San Marino can easily take up an entire day of sightseeing.
However, with Ravenna on the itinerary, our time was limited to 2-3 hours.
Shopping: Every store in town seems to sell perfume, purses, sunglasses, and watches.
One can also find a half dozen airsoft gun shops, most likely due to lower tax rates.
Coin collectors will have to buy the two euro San Marino coin at tourist shops as few were minted.
State Museums: The five state museums and towers can be visited for varying costs and
€1,50 is refundable if you turn in your undamaged admission ticket at the end.
First Tower (Guaita)
Second Tower (Cesta)
Government Building (Public Palace)
St. Francis Museum
**Changing of the Guard occurs at the Public Palace during the summer months**
I wasn't overly impressed with San Marino.
Small and a bit too touristy for my taste,
but at least another microstate has been checked off the list!
Luckily, most of the sites stayed open until 7:00pm in September.
The Mosaics of Ravenna are a UNESCO World Heritage Site
dating back to the Byzantine Empire.
Ravenna is an absolute must see while you're in Italy!
For €9,50 you can buy a ticket valid for 7 days to visit each of the sites once:
- 1. Basilica of San Vitale
- 2. Mausoleum of Galla Placidia
- 3. Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo
- 4. Archiepiscopal Museum (Chapel of Sant’Andrea and the Ivory Throne)
- 5. Neonian Baptistery
- **I suggest seeing them in that order (best first) and buy your tickets outside of the Basilica of San Vitale at the ticket shop down the road**
For more Things to Do in Ravenna, check out the Pinterest board.
It is one of the oldest and most preserved monuments in Ravenna.
Small and unassuming from the outside, but a real treat for the eyes once inside!
Visits are limited to 5 minutes and there may be a que at busy times.
In addition to mosaics, this one has a pretty cool tower.
The religious art is particularly significant as it shows
a blending of western and eastern styles that came about during that time.
On the way to site #4 & #5 we had to pay our respects to the great Italian poet, Dante Alighieri.
His Divine Comedy is considered one of the most famous Italian literary works of all time.
His description of heaven, hell, and purgatory has inspired many great artists
like Rodin's sculpture of the Gates of Hell in Paris.
He was invited to live in Ravenna where he finished Paradiso and later died.
Florence requested that Dante's remains be returned to his hometown several times,
but he continues to rest in Ravenna.
If you have 30 minutes to spare, you can easily visit these last two sites...
#4 The Archiepiscopal Museum houses a few gems like the Ivory Cathedra
made of carved ivory and the Paschal (Easter) Calendar.
Unfortunately photos are not allowed inside the museum.
The ceiling depicts John the Baptist baptizing Jesus in the Jordan River.
You may find artists selling their own mosaic works or
you can buy a bag of mixed colorful tiles and make your own creation!
We found an Asian place to have an early dinner
and drove home with an ETA of 10:00pm.
It was a long day trip, but completely worth it!