San Marino is a small inland gem surrounded by Emilia Romagna, perched at the top of and the footing of a hill. It is an ancient state (also known as the Most Serene Republic Of San Marino) in existence since 301 AD when a monastic settlement was built there. San Marino is the oldest sovereign state and oldest constitutional republic. At just over 61 kilometres square and with a population of 33,562 (counted in 2016), San Marino has the smallest population of any state in the Council of Europe. But don’t underestimate it and don’t go for just the day. I was utterly charmed by the narrow hilltop medieval medieval streets and towers peering over the surrounding countryside, the myriad of restaurants and gorgeous local produce available.

San Marino is laid back and charming, and it is a perfect spot for a relaxed mini break for tired urbanites like myself, or those who are seeking something a little different. It is perfect for travellers seeking gorgeous food and wine, peppered with gentle walks or maybe just sitting back with book, as I would do. There is lots of Sammarinese produce to explore, including San Marino truffles and a considerable wine industry (especially given its small size). One of the attractions is that much of the San Marino produce stays there, so to try it, you have to visit. San Marino is a special little place saturated in lots of good things to eat and drink, culture and history. I will go back again, next time maybe in spring or summer. 

Ristorante Righi

San Marino has one Michelin star restaurant, Ristorante Righi on Piazza della Libertà. There is an osteria here too, with a lovely terrace overlooking the piazza. Pastas here are the thing like classic tagliatelle with ragu and terrific stuffed pastas. As with many restaurants in the area they are made by a dedicated pasta chef on site. 

http://www.ristoranterighi.com/

Consorzio Vini Tipici (Consortium of Traditional Wines) 

At the foot of the hill on which San Marino sits is the Consorzio Vini Tipici, the Consortium of Traditional Wines which sells San Marino wines – you will be surprised by just how much they make – and also does tastings. The sparklers are a real treat and a terrific bargain, both the white and rosé. They also sell local food products. Make sure you have room in your suitcase as these wines are very hard to find outside of San Marino. 

http://www.consorziovini.sm/

La Terrazza

Many visitors to San Marino go to La Terrazza for the views, but the food is excellent here too. Looking out over the town from its enviable position, there is a view of parliament and the square outside as well as the hills beyond. The (naturally) fresh tagliatelle with parma ham and fresh black truffle was sublime. Cappellacci, green stuffed pasta with fresh cheese, tomato and basil was fresh and lively, a great vegetable pasta dish. San Marino has truffles too, which I was to discover later on in the trip when I bumped into some truffle hunters at the Christmas market.  

http://www.ristorantelaterrazza.com/

La Fratta

As you walk into La Fratta, it is impossible not to notice and smell the superb rotisserie with chickens and potatoes spinning, the potatoes catching any escaping chicken fat and absorbing them into their potato goodness. Otherwise, if you are in the market for a new food obsession, allow me to reintroduce you to passatelli. I say reintroduce as I have shared the recipe with you before but we have some new people here and maybe the rest of you just haven’t made them yet. Ok, so parmesan noodles, that is what these are. So easy, made with breadcrumbs , parmesan, eggs and the tinies bit of flour, usually nutmeg too. Best served in broth I thought, and then I had them with truffles. Mama! 

http://www.ristorantelafratta.com/

Cesare

A small but perfectly formed restaurant with large windows looking out on the town outside. The food here is elegant, more fine dining than Nonna, but you can still see Nonna’s influence in the cooking. Meats and fish are cooked on a grate over an open fire. On a winters day, that is irresistible.  

http://www.hotelcesare.com

Ristorante Ritrovo dei Lavoratori

The best recommendation for Ristorante Ritrovo dei Lavoratori is how many large tables of families were eating there when we arrived. Excellent fresh pastas and San Marino traditional plates followed, the best of which was the passatelli with fossa cheese and truffle. I can rarely look past passatelli on a menu! The tagliatelle with ragu was very good too. Classic, as though your Nonna made it, if you had one. 

Birroficio Abusivo

There is no pub as such, but the craft beers from Birroficio Abusivo are widely available in San Marino and worth seeking out. There was a pale ale, bitter and weiss beer available on my visit. 

I travelled to San Marino in partnership with the San Marino Tourism Board. 

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Niamh

Cooking and travelling, and sharing it all with you.
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