Transport in San Marino

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San Marino is a small European republic, with limited public transport facilities. It is an enclave in central Italy.

Railway[edit]

Opening ceremony of San Marino's electric railway in 1932

For a few years prior to World War II, San Marino had a railway network consisting of a single line, connecting the country with the Italian rail network at Rimini railway station. Due to difficulties in accessing the capital, San Marino City (which has a mountain-top location), the terminus station was to be located at the village of Valdragone. However with a joint effort between San Marino and Italy the railway was extended to reach the capital through a steep and winding track comprising many tunnels. The railway was opened on 12 June 1932.[1]

It was an advanced system for its time, being an electric railway, powered by overhead electric cables. The trains drew power from these cables by means of a pantograph system. The tracks were narrow gauge, which offered advantages in terms of costs and ease of construction given the geographical features of the route, but made the railway incompatible with the Italian network. The train carriages had a distinctive appearance, being liveried in the national colours of San Marino, blue and white layered horizontally; the service offered first class and third class seats. There were 17 tunnels, all located within Sammarinese territory, ranging from about 50 m to 800 m in length.

The railway was well built and well used, and in all probability would have been a long-term feature of Sammarinese public transport, but it was almost completely destroyed during the fighting in this region during World War II. Today there is no operational railway in San Marino, but many disused artifacts such as bridges, tunnels and stations are still well visible, and in some cases have been refurbished and converted to parks, public footpaths or traffic routes.

Most of the tunnels are well preserved today and three of them have been checked for safety, provided with lighting and opened for pedestrian use. Most of the others have either been closed for safety reasons or purchased privately for storage. Inside the last tunnel, about 500 m long, closest to the former San Marino station, some of the train coaches once used are still being preserved. Some of the bridges and other constructions used by the former railway have become well loved landmarks, especially the "Fontevecchia" bridge, set in a pleasant countryside location. Dogana's station is now the centre of a large public park. Other stations have either been converted to private homes or demolished.

Aerial tramway[edit]

Aerial tramway to Monte Titano

There is a 1.5 km aerial tramway connecting the city of San Marino on top of Monte Titano with Borgo Maggiore, a major town in the republic, with the second largest population of any Sammarinese settlement. Indeed, for the tourist visitor the aerial tramway gives the best available views of Borgo Maggiore, as the cars sweep low over the rooftops of the main town square. From here a further connection is available to the nation's largest settlement, Dogana, by means of local bus service.

Two aerial tramway cars, known as gondolas, and numbered '1' and '2', operate in opposition on a cable, and a service is provided at roughly fifteen minute intervals throughout the day. A third vehicle is available on the system, being a service car for the use of engineers maintaining the tramway.

The upper station of the aerial tramway serves no other purpose (although it is situated close to a tourist information office). However, the lower station in Borgo Maggiore has a number of retail and catering outlets situated within its overall structure.

Taxi and private road vehicles[edit]

Typical Sammarinese motor car number plate

There are 220 km of highways in the country, the main road being the San Marino Superhighway. Roads are well used by private car drivers. Sammarinese authorities license private vehicles with distinctive licence plates which are white with blue figures, usually a letter followed by up to four numbers. To the left of these figures is printed the national Coat of Arms of San Marino. Many vehicles also carry the international vehicle identification code (in black on a white oval sticker), which is "RSM". Since 2004 custom licence plates have also become available.

A limited licensed taxi service operates nationwide. There are seven licensed taxi operating companies in the republic,[2] and Italian taxis regularly operate within San Marino when carrying passengers picked up in Italian territory.

Buses[edit]

Sammarinese international bus service link with Rimini, Italy

There is a regular bus service between Rimini and the city of San Marino, popular with both tourists and tourist industry workers commuting to San Marino from Italy. This service stops at approximately twenty advertised locations in Rimini and within San Marino, with its two terminus stops at Rimini railway station and San Marino coach station, respectively.

San Marino also has its own small local bus system within the republic. This can be a useful means of transport for a visitor staying more than one day in San Marino, and therefore having the opportunity to explore the wider country and some its smaller communities. It is worth noting that tourists who are resident in a Sammarinese hotel are usually entitled to a discount on local bus fares (though not on the international service to Rimini, Italy).

Air transport[edit]

There is a small airfield located 43°56′58″N 12°30′40″E / 43.94942°N 12.51098°E / 43.94942; 12.51098 (San Marino Airfield) in Domagnano right next to the border; there is also an international heliport located in Borgo Maggiore. Most tourists who arrive by air land at Rimini's Federico Fellini Airport, Italy, and then make the transfer by bus.

Waterways[edit]

Two rivers flow through San Marino, but there is no major water transport, and no major port or harbour.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Internacia Fervojisto (International Railways), 2005.6, p85. In Esperanto
  2. ^ Licensed taxi companies are listed on the Government tourism website.