The ancient history of San Marino has left a rich heritage across the whole Republic, making San Marino an ideal destination for those art and history enthusiasts who want to explore the surroundings of Rimini. The Istituti Culturali di San Marino State Museum offers engaging and detailed tours through the history of this small country’s history. It’s located in the upper part of San Marino City, at the edge of the limestone relief that, standing at over 760 metres, towers over the entire Riviera.
San Marino Musei Pass: seven museums with one ticket
San Marino Musei Pass is an indefinitely valid ticket that grants access to the following museums: the First Tower (also known as “Guaita” or “Rocca” tower), the Second Tower (“Cesta” or “Fratta” tower), the Public Palace (“Palazzo Pubblico”), the State Museum (“Musei di Stato”), St. Francis’ Museum (“Pinacoteca San Francesco”), the National Gallery (“Galleria Nazionale”) and the Stamp and Coin Museum (“Museo del Francobollo e della Moneta”).
Rimini and San Marino are only 25 kilometres away, efficiently connected by a bus service departing from the Rimini railway station. Bus tickets are available in all VisitRimini information points.
A breathtaking view of the Riviera Romagnola from San Marino
Travel from Rimini to San Marino in a few minutes
The bus service from Rimini to San Marino operates several trips a day, with no need for reservations. Benedettini buses are comfortable and equipped with free Wi-Fi. The terminus of this route is Piazzale Cesare Battisti (Rimini Railway Station). See timetables.
A journey through San Marino’s millennial history
According to history, around the 4th century A.D. the stone cutter Marinus took refuge on Mount Titanus to escape from persecutions against the Christians. Here, he founded a congregation, which gradually developed into a village, a castle and eventually a mediaeval commune, in the XI century. In 1460, San Marino, which had become a small republic, formed an alliance with Pius II and Federico, Duke of Urbino, against Malatesta, and conquered the castles of Fiorentino, Montegiardino, Serravalle and Faetano. Despite the persistent attempts of conquest by the Papal State, San Marino remained independent and received recognition from Napoleon in 1797.
The independence of San Marino was internationally declared in 1815, After the Convention of Vienna, Italy formally recognised San Marino in 1862, establishing a customs union and monetary union in 1939. The Republic started issuing its own postage stamps in 1877. The San Marino legislation is based on ancient statutes dating back to the Middle Ages, and their subsequent updates. The heads of State and of the Executive governments bear the title of Captains Regents. They are appointed by the Great and General Council, and preside over the Congress of State, which holds executive power, remaining in office for 6 months.
The San Marino museums: the First Tower, the Second Tower, the Public Palace, the State Museum, the St. Francis’ Museum, the National Gallery and the Stamp and Coin Museum.
The First Tower
The First Tower, also known as Guaita Tower, is the largest and the oldest among the fortresses standing on the edge of Mount Titano. It is surrounded by the oldest of the three city walls surrounding the city of San Marino, which are still intact. The Second Tower, or Cesta, rises on the highest peak of Mt. Titano, at the height of 755 metres above sea level. It’s located halfway through a mountainside sightseeing route that connects the three ancient towers of San Marino, offering a breathtaking view. The guardhouse and castellan’s rooms inside the pentagonal shaped 15th-century tower now house the Museum of Ancient Weapons of San Marino.
Montale, also known as “third tower”, is the smallest among the three towers. It’s not open to the public, and it contains a dungeon, called “fondo della torre” (tower’s bottom) which can only be accessed from above.
The Public Palace
The Public Palace stands today on the site of the ancient Domus Magna Comunis, built at the end of the XIV century. After several renovation and consolidation works, the original building was demolished at the end of the XIX century. The new Palazzo Pubblico, designed by the Roman architect Francesco Azzurri, was built between 1884 and 1894.
After about 100 years, the building underwent another renovation, which ended in 1996 and was overseen by the internationally renowned architect Gae Aulenti. Official State ceremonies are held in the Palace, since it hosts the main institutional and administrative bodies: the Captains Regent, The Great and General Council, the Council of the XII and the State Congress. At the entrance of the palace, you’ll see San Marino’s baroque coat of arms, a sandstone work of art that decorated the old Palace’s entrance.
Under the main staircase, a bronze bust depicts Giosuè Carducci, the illustrious Italian poet who, on the 30th September, 1894, delivered the inaugural speech of the new Palace. The author of the bust is Tullio Golfarelli, a sculptor from Cesena.
The Council of the XII is a fifteenth century style hall, housing one of the best-known depictions of Saint Marino, which portrays the Saint holding the city in his hands and giving his blessing. The painting has recently been attributed to Bartolomeo Gennari (1594-1661), an apprentice of Guercino.
The Grand and General Council, home to the parliamentary activity of San Marino, holds the sixty counsellors’ seats and the Captains Regents’ throne. It’s overlooked by a large mural painting depicting the apparition of Saint Marino to his people, painted by Emilio Retrosi in 1894.
Continuing along the grand staircase, it is possible to take a closer look at the ceramic triptych that initially decorated the clock tower, designed by Pietro Tonnini, an artist from San Marino, and manufactured by the roman potter Gugliemo Castellani in 1894.
Museum of Ancient Arms
The Museum of Ancient Arms displays part of the rich collection that the State acquired between 1956 and 1972. It’s organised in a four room exhibition circuit, which illustrates the evolution of melee weapons and firearms. The exhibition includes armours, polearms, firearms, as well as experimental and breech-loading weapons from the XIX century.
The State Museum keeps archaeological, artistic and numismatic finds from collections that began in the second half of the XIX century. The museum, which opened to the public in 1899, has been located inside the historic Palazzo Pergami – Belluzzi, in the centre of San Marino, since 2001. The collections are displayed across four floors: the ground floor houses the Archaeology section, with finds that can be traced back to the prehistoric, villanovan and roman communities that inhabited the San Marino area. On the first floor, you’ll find two sections:” Arts in the Republic” features paintings by Guercino and his pupils, Cesare and Benedetto Gennari, Matteo Loves, Elisabetta Sirani, and Pompeo Batoni’s masterpiece: “San Marino Risolleva La Repubblica” (“Saint Marino lifting the Republic”). The “Archaeological donations and numismatics” section gathers a selection of Egyptian objects, 18th century paintings from Latin America and bronze and wood sculptures.
Temporary exhibitions and conferences are held on the second floor.
St. Francis’ Museum
The St. Francis’ Museum, formerly a Franciscan convent, exhibits collections of paintings and sacred art objects. Officially opened in 1966, the Museum consists of a sacred arts section and a picture gallery, displaying the most significant examples of a rich artistic heritage recovered from the convent and other Franciscan churches. The picture gallery includes two paintings by Girolamo Marchesi from Cotignola (Ravenna, c. 1472 – Roma, c. 1540): “Conception with the Saints Agustinus” and “Anselm and Virgin Enthroned with Saints”.
The jewel in the crown of the liturgical relic collection is a thurible with incense boat, made in embossed and chiselled silver, which can be dated to the beginning of the XVI century. The craftsmanship of this precious relic is attributed to the renowned goldsmith from San Marino Antonio Fabbri (1450-1529), who served as the Holy See’s official engraver from 1476 to 1522.
The National Gallery was inaugurated in 1956, with the first edition of the “San Marino Figurative Art Award”, an initiative to promote a new and vital cultural debate on art. The several exhibition spaces inside the National Gallery house collections of artistic work dated from the 70’s up to the present day, as well as a section dedicated to experimental artistic languages. The National Gallery also provides historical trails that will guide you in the discovery of San Marino’s historic and artistic heritage.
Moreover, the National Gallery features a Performing Archive, an open space containing historical documents concerning the country’s art, the portfolios of the most important San Marino artists, materials recovered from anthological exhibitions and special projects, such as “Provoc’arte” curated by Roberto Daolio in 1991. The latter was the first public art event organised in San Marino and led to an intervention by Maurizio Cattelan inside the former Montale Railway Gallery.
Stamp and Coin Museum
With over 700 square metres of exhibition space, the Stamp and Coin Museum will take you on a fascinating journey through Mount Titano’s history, displaying fine examples of late XIX century philatelic and numismatic work.
Discover the cultural heritage of San Marino and book your stay with VisitRimini.