To talk about the Three Towers of San Marino we must first go back in history and explain who was San Marinus, the character who founded the fifth smallest nation in the world. The smallest is The Vatican, which we also visited on our trip to Italy.
We went to the tourist information office in the colonial part of San Marino. We wanted to have our passport stamped and that’s where they do it.
The gentleman who greeted us told us the legend of how Marinus came to the area fleeing the Roman Emperor Diocletian. It seems that Marinus was a Catholic and was a very charismatic man. Therefore he managed to attract a community of devout people, but a man was envious of his popularity. He shot Marinus with an arrow and he became paralyzed. Then, the mother of this man asked Marinus for help and he accepted. As a gift, she gave him Mount Titano.
He formed his church and lived on the mountain until his death on September 3, 301 AD. That day is considered the birth of the Republic of San Marino. Which by the way, is the oldest on the planet. To celebrate the date, every year they host a parade with medieval costumes.
San Marino always independent
Over the years, communities near San Marino decided to join the republic. The last time this happened was in 1463 and the borders remain the same. They have nine castles that would be like provinces.
The Papacy recognized the independence of San Marino in 1291 and was ratified in 1631. Napoleon almost took over the country in 1797 but diplomacy won, as he became friends with one of the regents. Then in the 19th century it served as a refuge for those who wanted the unification of Italy. In gratitude for this support, Giuseppe Garibaldi allowed them their desire to remain a free nation. Likewise, the majority of the population speaks Italian, which is the official language, although there are other dialects.
During the Second World War they were invaded by the Germans until it was over and the Allies freed them. They are not members of the European Union even though they use the Euro as their official currency. They even print Euros from San Marino.
They have a parliamentary system that chooses 60 members every five years. Apart from seven state ministers. It has a peculiar system where its Head of State does not have real power, it only represents the republic. Two captains of the castles are chosen and they rotate between each other every six months.
San Marino has 62 square kilometers and has 33,000 inhabitants. In the colonial zone, most of the hotels of San Marino are located, including the Hotel Cesare, where we stay. Most tourists only spend the day on tours or cruises. Very few people spend the night and it seems that there is no one else. Only 42 families live in the colonial part.
The strategic location of Mount Titano, 739 meters high, is undoubtedly the highest point in the area. Today, tourists (like me) can enjoy beautiful views of the mountains of the Apennines, the Adriatic Sea and the surrounding lowlands. But in the past, these views let them know who was coming to the area.
To visit the Three Towers it is advisable to use the San Marino Tourist Card (TuttoSanMarino Card) that you get at your hotel. You can pay € 7.50 instead of € 10.50 for a multiple museum package that includes the three towers. If you only want to go to the towers you can also buy a ticket to enter both.
The Three Towers
This tower was built in the 11th century and served as a prison until October 1970. The prisoners’ rooms had paintings done in their hours of boredom.
It is also known as La Rocca and its current structure was designed in the 15th century during the war between San Marino and the Malatesta family of Rimini. It was built with double walls to protect the population when there were sieges. It still has pieces of artillery from the Second World War, including cannons.
The second tower called Cesta dates back to the 13th century and is the highest on Monte Titano at 756 meters. I thought it was the most interesting. Inside it has a weapons museum that was built in 1956 in honor of San Marinus. This collection belonged to Giovanni Carlo Giogetti and includes armor, swords, shields, antler weapons, pistols and other pieces from the 18th century. Some pieces are local others are foreign.
In ancient times this tower had a guardian and a garrison of crossbowmen.
Montale is the name of the third tower that is located in one of the smaller peaks. Unlike the other two towers, this is not open to the public.
It was built in the 14th century for protection since it had the best view. It served mainly as a prison. The walk is worth it even without entering.
Visiting San Marino is like going back in time to the Medieval Era and even more if you spend the night in the lonely colonial city.