Europe boasts an array of stunning Microstates that are fascinating to visit. There is Andorra between France and Spain, Liechtenstein in the South of Germany, Monaco in SouthEast of France and San Marino within Italy. Apart from being very, very tiny the other thing these microstates have in common is a unique history that can give you a better understanding of the region you are exploring.
On my travels in Italy this summer I had the opportunity to visit the tiny Republic of San Marino, also known as Serenissima Repubblica di San Marino, the Most Serene Republic of San Marino. This wonderful microstate seemingly built upon a cliff edge is the oldest surviving sovereign state and constitutional republic in the world, said to be founded in 301. Although only a tiny landlocked microstate in Italy it is deemed one of the wealthiest countries in the world with an extremely high GDP and low unemployment. The tiny country also boasts an impressive lack of national debt!
My friend and I were staying with an Italian family who showed us around this immensely popular day trip in Italy. We joined the crowds climbing up the hill to Castello della Cesta, taking in the splendour of the many little kitsch tourist shops on our way up. Our descent was a little faster as we used the cable car to take in the impressive scenery of San Marino.
It is an unnerving experience browsing for perfume and then going to the shop next door and browsing at guns and knifes. San Marino has the most unrestricted gun laws in Europe. Surprisingly, although anyone present can buy a submachine gun there is a very calm and relaxed atmosphere on the hill. I bought a replica crossbow that would have been used in San Marino during the first world war. That afternoon we ate pizza at the restaurant at the top of the hill, sitting outside which although a bit cool this high up had breathtaking views of San Marino and the beautiful country of Italy beyond.