Here’s what you need to know to plan where to stay and eat in San Marino!
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A quick note about coronavirus and my travel content: in these crazy times, I know much of the world isn’t traveling right now. But my hope is that you keep dreaming and planning for travel, and when the time comes, you go! In that spirit, I’ll continue sharing travel tips for when it’s safe for global travel.
San Marino is a seriously underrated travel destination! If you’re headed to central Italy, it’s a quick trip from Florence. Picture a fortress in an ancient stone city that seems straight out of an epic tale.
I’ve already shared what to see and do in San Marino, but today I’ll share the best tips on eating and staying in the country!
Staying in San Marino
I’ve already shared why I think you should stay overnight in the area rather than squeezing the entire country into a day trip.
We decided to stay in the city of San Marino itself. In the offseason, this was pretty reasonable: we were in the heart of the city at a dog-friendly breakfast-included hotel for 100€ a night. Hotel Joli was modest, but the views from our balcony were unparalleled. I mean honestly, check out that view!
Hotels get cheaper the further out of the capital city (also called San Marino) you stay, but then you have to either drive in and park or catch the bus or cable car up the hill. If we didn’t stay in the city itself, I’d want to stay somewhere within walking distance from the cable car entrance.
If it’s summer and you don’t mind driving a bit into the attractions, you can also look into staying in the seaside town of Rimini You’ll have beach access as well as being close to San Marino. However, I’d rather stay in the country and drive down the beach for a day or afternoon.
Transportation and Parking
If you’re traveling here, you have a few options. The simplest is to drive, which is what we did. However, parking can get pricey, especially as you get closer to the top of the mountain (where all the fun is). However, many hotels offer nearby parking at steeply discounted rates: we were able to park in a lot less than 100 meters from the hotel for only 4€ per day! So that was perfect for us.
If you stay inside the country of San Marino but not in the capital city, look for parking options when you search and consider staying near the cable car entrance in Borgo Maggiore.
Because it’s a different country and much of it is up a steep mountain, the Italian train system doesn’t run into San Marino. You can catch a train to Rimini and then transfer to the bus to reach the city of San Marino.
San Marino Restaurants
If you’re only here on a day trip and only get one meal, eat here. Ristorante Righi is a Michelin-starred restaurant that gives you options to fit your speed and budget. If you want an excellent meal that’s reasonably priced but not a long lingering lunch, opt for a table outside or inside on the main floor. However, if you want a Michelin-starred dinner noted for its creativity, go upstairs for a lovely multi-course meal.
Since we wandered in at lunch, we went with the simpler option. The food is excellent and we especially liked the piadina, a regional flatbread that San Marino and the surrounding region of Italy specializes in. Another fun thing was seeing wines from our town in Italy!
Ritrovo dei Lavoratori
San Marino sits within the area of Italy known for steaks and truffles, so we knew we were going to eat well. You can get amazing forms of both at Ritrovo dei Lavoratori!
We walked in to find a family party of thirty celebrating their nonna’s (grandmother) birthday, which is always a good sign in my book to see locals coming. In spite of the massive group just ahead of us, the service was still great and our food came quickly. You can tell it’s a family-run place, because when we order our steak Italian style (meaning rare and a little bloody), a different waiter came by to pretend to steal a piece! Great service and recommendations from the staff. The truffle pasta was also great, simple to better highlight the truffle. The only downside was ordering entirely too much food for two people!
I’m often a little skeptical of restaurants in non-English speaking countries with names in English. But Smaller consistently came up as a great lunch option in San Marino, so we tried it!
The mixed grill platter was delicious and plenty for two when paired with some grilled vegetables. Anytime I can try a bite of a bunch of different things is a win, and we liked everything! The only disappointment was that they weren’t firing their pizza oven that day, but it was likely because we visited in the off-season.
Agli Antichi Orti
Like several restaurants around here, Agli Antichi Orti had a caffe/pizzeria room in front with a more traditional trattoria in back. It would be good for needing a quick lunch or if your pizza-loving husband is craving some. Our waiter was quick to recommend the local dishes, which I always love. I had a ravioli with clams in a herby sauce that was delicious, and an apple cake/mousse thing that was the owner’s mother’s favorite and the house dessert that evening. Also: they flambee the creme brulee at the table, which is always fun.
San Marino needs to be on your travel bucket list! Hopefully, this sets you up to know where to eat in San Marino!
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