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Microstates Continued: San Marino

If you love anachronistic Italian city-states and crossbows, then you’ll love San Marino. Even though it is a small country (hence, “microstate”) San Marino has a rich history, and was admired by both Napolean and Abraham Lincoln. In addition to it being (possibly) the oldest surviving democracy, its citizens are very civic-minded, and their voter turnout is around 99%, so you just know it has to be a party-town.

San Marino is built on Mount Titano in northern Italy. It is really only one city, the most popular part of which is its Old Town, which is essentially renn-fest fan’s dream. Carless, flagstone paths lead past limestone buildings and sunken crossbow pitches. Visit the historic forts that surround the city (which have made its independence possible), and the museums therein, some of which house prodigious numbers of ancient weaponry (including a sizable crossbow collection.) Wandering around the forts themselves is a good time, as almost everything is accessible – you can climb up small metal ladders or stone steps and take a stroll along the parapets.

In spite of all this history, one of the most interesting things about San Marino is its present. The fact that the country exists today is a testament to its forward thinking citizenry, who really care about their tiny country – and if you are at all interested in how politics works in such a tiny place, the locals love to talk at length about it.

As far as fun things to do that don’t involve politics or old weaponry, they have a great wax museum and reptiliean aquarium (bound to be a hit with the kids), and check out the Ristorante Righi for food and drinks.