If you thought the only countries to use the euro (the single European currency) were those that were part of the European Union, this article is about to prove you wrong. In fact there are several other countries that are using it because they have agreed to do so with the EU. One of these is San Marino, and we’re going to find out more about it and the currency now.
As you probably already know, the euro is a decimal currency that is divided into 100 eurocents. Most people don’t actually refer to these as eurocents though – the far simpler term ‘cents’ is used in daily life.
Most of the coins you can get hold of are in cents as well. The only exceptions are the one and two euro coins. As for the cent coins, these are available in 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cent denominations.
You’ll find several banknotes available to use, although some are more common than others. These tend to be the ones at the smaller end of the monetary scale, starting with the five euro note. The €10, €20 and €50 euro notes are easy to find and use too, but the ones above this are less popular. These are the €100, €200 and €500 banknotes, which tend to be the preferred targets for anyone who wants to have a go at counterfeiting. If you do come across them make sure they are genuine before accepting them. While they are of course legal tender you might find some people are hesitant to take them if you are trying to pay for something, so bear this in mind.
As we have learned already, San Marino isn’t part of the EU. It isn’t in the Eurozone either but there is an agreement in place that permits the country to use the currency.
Getting cash in San Marino is a pretty easy process. For starters you’ll be able to get euros before you go there so you won’t arrive empty-handed. Next up you can take in some traveller’s cheques too; ideally as you would imagine these should also be denominated in euros for ease of exchange.
Card payments are quite easy to do here, so you can pay for all kinds of things using your credit cards as well. All the major brands are accepted. In addition you have the option of getting more cash via the cash machines you’ll find in San Marino. However this does come with a caveat – be alert as to who is around you to minimise the odds of being the victim of a pickpocket five minutes after using a machine. You can read more about this below.
This is as easy as you would imagine it to be. You can use any good quality currency converter to help you do this. Simply look for one that updates quite frequently; some update every minute or so whereas others might only do so once a day. Of course it depends on how accurate you want the stats to be too. Just look for your own currency and the euro (ISO code EUR) and go from there. Just remember that when you convert one to the other at a bureau de change you will be charged commission for doing so, so you’ll need to keep this in mind too.
When you are thinking about visiting San Marino for any reason it is wise to find out more about what the country can offer you. The latest situation with regard to travel advice is always updated at the UK government website. You can visit this at https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/san-marino.
As we have already mentioned above, there are potential issues in some of the more popular places in San Marino with regard to petty crime. This is why we’d advise you to take extra care when you are using cash machines throughout the country. These problems aren’t that common but it does pay dividends to be more alert when you have money and valuables with you.
Obviously thieves will always tend to look for easy victims, so make sure you don’t present yourself as one. If you can focus on making sure you only have minimal valuables with you (think jewellery for example) you’ll pose a far less attractive proposition to anyone who might be thinking of picking a pocket or two.
You might guess from its use of the euro that San Marino is in fact in Europe somewhere. You would be correct in this assumption, and in actual fact it is within one country – Italy. San Marino is bordered on all sides by the much bigger country of Italy. It sits on the eastern side of the country, south-west of Rimini and roughly to the east of Florence. San Marino is known as an enclave, which basically means it is entirely surrounded by just one other country.
Despite the relatively small size of the country, it does have a good range of attractions you can visit. For example Mount Titano surely must rank as one of the most famous sights in the whole country. The mountain is part of the Apennines and it boasts a prominence of 189 metres. It is also quite appealing to many hikers, since it is the highest peak San Marino has to offer. Monte Titano is part of the larger UNESCO World Heritage Site designation given to both the mountain and the San Marino Historic Centre.
The city itself is on the slopes of the mountain, so it is quite a stunning place to visit. Part of the reason for this – albeit not the only reason – is that the streets in the city are winding and complex. They are mostly built from cobblestones, which in themselves give an olde-worlde feel to the city. While you are there you should visit at least one of the so-called Three Towers of San Marino. To visit all three you must ascend the three peaks in the city on the aforementioned mountain, so it is quite a task! Some are content to photograph them with a good lens from afar. The towers are called the Guaita, the Cesta and the Montale.
Another impressive building in the capital is the Palazzo Pubblico. While the name translates literally into Public Palace, this is actually the town hall. On your travels around the city don’t miss the equally impressive looking Basilica di San Marino. This is the main place for worship in the city and while it may look older it dates from the 1830s.
If you are eager to discover more about the history of San Marino (which incidentally stretches back much further than you might think) the best place to go is the State Museum of San Marino. This has been going for over a century now, with four floors in all offering countless insights into the history and distant history of this small part of the world. You might be surprised how many archaeological exhibits are in the museum, including some from Neolithic times. Consider it a journey through time from way before our own time – and one you will learn a lot from.
Another of the finest attractions in the city is the view. This alone is perhaps one of the most appealing attractions you can witness, since it provides you with a good overview of San Marino and beyond. Don’t just settle for the obvious views though – with numerous paths leading out of the city offering superb walks both near and far, it’s worth putting on a comfy pair of shoes to enjoy just some of them at least.
One of the most fascinating things about San Marino is the city itself. This is the capital of the so-called microstate and it offers a charming medieval feel that is hard not to love. Indeed, perhaps the best thing to do here is to wander around the narrow streets, popping in and out of shops and enjoying all the charms it has to share.
The first thing many people will think about when they hear the name San Marino (at least if they like their Formula One) is the Grand Prix. However as you can probably already see this is but a fraction of what the country has to offer. If you are staying nearby in Italy do make sure you visit San Marino, if only for a day. You won’t have to change any currency after all, and basing your whole visit here has a lot to recommend it too. This is a small but enjoyable country you’d want to tick off your bucket list.