San Marino is a beautiful place, as long as you look outward. There are pretty spots in-country (Montegiardano and Faetano are beautiful, small towns), but there is also a lot of bad sixties architecture and high-rise sprawl. Because it's a desirable place to live, a lot of people live here. Luckily for the Sammarinese, the Italian hills that surround them are very picturesque, and the views are spectacular. This is a westward view at dawn from a high point in Aquaviva. The mountains are in La Marche, the Italian region that borders San Marino to the south.
At sunset, looking east from a nearby point. The cluster of lights high up on the right is the upper town of San Marino proper, on top of Monte Titano. The low land to the left is the coast, where the lights of Rimini are visible in the far distance.
This is a view from Montegiardino, on the far eastern border of the country, looking westward at Monte Titano. If you look closely, you can see the three towers on the summit. Here, it's easy to put the country's size into perspective: the mountain, with the capital on top, is basically at the center of the country, so this picture essentially includes the entire eastern portion of the republic. We've mentioned this time and again, but this is a small country - with only twenty-four square miles of land, it's the third smallest in Europe and the fifth smallest in the world.
The ocean is clearly visible from San Marino town. Below, in the foreground, the town of Borgo Maggiore can be seen. Beyond, snaking along the road towards the left hand side, are the towns of Domagnano, Serravalle and Dogana. There is then a ten mile swath of Italy between the border and the Mediterranean. This part of Italy is the Emilia-Romagna region.
Looking the other way from the top of the mountain, the Appenine mountains begin to rise in earnest. The north-south range is lower here than in other places, but the peaks are still beautiful. The town of Aquaviva, the westernmost village in the land, is hidden in a valley just behind that closest, dark peak.
Looking up at Monte Titano, with the overdeveloped hills below it. Getting around on this side of the mountain isn't much fun. There is basically one very busy, winding, highwaylike road that curves up from Dogano (which is actually the largest town in San Marino - bigger, even, than the capital) up to the right of the peak and around to the top. It's full of hairpins and sudden roundabouts, police traps and crazy drivers, hidden exits and confusing signs. We've become accustomed to it, but prefer a back road that we discovered by chance.
Much of the lower republic, toward the ocean, looks like this: big buildings and big construction sites. This was our view from the apartment we rented for a few nights in the beginning of our stay. It was pretty in its own way, but not particularly appealing.
At sunset, from near our (probably illegal) campsite in parco Montecerretto. The Italian portion of the mountains - the border is just down the hill there - is almost empty. A few little towns are visible in the daytime, strung out on some of the hills, but there's not much in between.
A nearly identical view, during another sunset, from higher up the mountain. With these views, it's easy to find San Marino a beautiful place, even if its Italian neighbors don't enjoy looking at its sprawl.