San Marino

 


San Marino,  a micro-state within the borders of Italy between the regions of Le Marche and Emilia Romagna, is the world’s oldest existing constitutional republic, a holdover for the era of city states. It was named for Marinus the Dalmatian, a stonemason and early Christian preacher who established a chapel and monastery there in 301 and later lived on nearby Mt. Titano as a hermit. He was canonized as St. Marinus (ie, San Marino). The first written documentation of an organized community there dates from the late 9th century. The earliest mention of Jews in San Marino is an official record from 1369, documenting a business transaction; other documents attest to an established Jewish community there by the mid-15th century. During World War II, San Marino provided haven for Jews fleeing Nazi persecution, as well as other refugees.

No sites of Jewish built heritage have survived in San Marino, but in 2008 a commemorative plaque honoring Holocaust victims was unveiled on Vicolo dei Forni, the narrow street believed to have been the site of the medieval Jewish ghetto. (Friedrich Smetana, an Austrian Jew, served as San Marino’s Consul General in Vienna before World War II — he and most of his family were killed in the Shoah.)