In the Italian region Emilia Romagna there are many little villages and hamlets, natural beauties and views still unknown to most visitors. Some of them are not far from San Marino, or from the world renown summer destinations Rimini and Cattolica.
Our trip starts in San Leo, in an area cold Valmarecchia, a small village plunged in the local countryside. A square, a couple of bars, a restaurant, the town hall and that’s it: charming Medieval style. The only road connecting San Leo to the rest of the world is a scenic route carved into the rock. It would be worth to get here just to drive over it.
In the village there are two churches: the Saint Leon Cathedral, one of the highest example of Medieval architecture in Italy, and the Church of Saint Mary, the oldest religious site in town.
San Leo has been included in the list of Italy’s most beautiful villages and has been awarded with the orange flag by the Italian Touring Club. Drive – or even better walk, if you manage it – up to San Leo’s Fortress, located in the highest spot of the whole village, on a cliff overlooking the surrounding hills: from this stronghold you will enjoy a breathtaking view over the whole Valmarecchia, stretching till the Adriatic Sea. The area is also a paradise for bicycle lovers: empty streets, peace and quite surrounded by green.
Then we moved to Sant’Agata Feltria (44 kilometres from Rimini, 34 from San Marino), popular especially for the Refined White Truffle’s National Fair which takes place every year in October. The passion for this exquisite nourishment is felt everywhere: from pizzerias cooking pizza with truffle to groceries selling any kind of truffle based product.
Finally we got to San Marino, Europe’s oldest republic. During the low season, in autumn or spring, San Marino offers its best side, especially during the hours close to sunset, when the tourists arrived for a day trip leave to get back in their hotels on the sea side. At that time you will find a peaceful town – or should I say country? – relaxed and totally enjoyable. Walking among the small alleys, the ancient shops and the historical buildings is a true pleasure.
Here we visited the towers San Marino used to protect itself from the attacks of Rimini’s Malatesta family. The first one is called Rocca or Guaita and it is surrounded by the old city walls. The second tower is called Cesta or Fratta and it is located on a mountain’s peak. The third one, Montale, is the smallest of all three of them, and it hosted a prison accessible only from above. Enjoying the sunset from the top of any of these towers is an unmissable experience.
And if you happen to spend a visit in San Marino, don’t forget to get your passport stamped in the local tourism office: it will be a peculiar souvenir from Europe’s most ancient republic.
All of our journey’s pictures