San Marino is a small country just 12km from north to south and is completely surrounded by Italy. It is the fifth smallest country in the world and the oldest republic, known for its medieval architecture and stunning location on Mount Titano that provides excellent views of its surroundings.
Tourism is a major business and when walking around the old alleyways and stunning buildings you will notice that there seems to be nothing other than tourist shops. It's almost resort like so whilst the architecture is fascinating, the number of shops selling tat takes you away from imagining the past. Some might like to stay for a couple of days but I think a day trip is enough to see the main landmarks.
History of San Marino
Saint Marinus escaped persecution and withdrew to Monte Titano where he built a church and in 301 AD founded the city of San Marino. The city expanded into a state and in 1320 expanded to include the community of Chiesanuova and added several other communities in 1463.
Cesare Borgia in 1503 occupied the Republic for six months until his father, Pope Alexander VI died and his successor restored its independence.
In 1739 it was again occupied for three months before the Pope again restored its independence.
Napoleon Bonaparte briefly threatened in 1797 but diplomacy earned the friendship of Napoleon who spared and guaranteed to protect it.
When Italy unified, San Marino again kept its independence and signed an agreement, a Convention of Friendship in 1862.
In World War 1 San Marino elected for neutrality although this annoyed Italy who were fighting against the Central Powers. It also chose neutrality in World War 2 despite a fascist government from 1923 to 1943 and in 1944. War touched Saint Marino when it was attacked by the British Royal Air Force in the mistaken belief that Germany was using it to stockpile supplies. Germany did occupy it in an effort to stem the allied advance through Italy but was soon defeated.