When it comes to tiny, San Marino (its official title, The Most Serene Republic of San Marino, is more of an endorsement than a title) is a colossus of the miniaturised: in its entirety it's not much bigger than two or three suburbs strung together. But it is the world's oldest surviving republic.
Originally relying on a subsistence economy, the sheep and vineyards were ditched for kitsch and tourist souvenirs at about the time that Darryl Zanuck 'rented out' the entire republic as an authentic medieval backdrop for his film The Prince of Foxes.
Sensing a unique marketing opportunity, the city reinvented itself as a prime tourist destination, and these days San Marino is packed to the gunwales with tourists buying souvenirs and 'genuine reproductions' of medieval relics. It also took advantage of its proximity to the seaside resort of Rimini to ramp up its postcard production, becoming something of a 'Margate of the Mediterranean' as it churned out generic seaside postcards of the massive-mammaries-and-double-entendre type.
Facts for the traveller
Money & Costs
Off the beaten track