Print this Page
Print this Page

New legislation is being prepared to replace the 1919 Law on the protection of monuments, museums, archaeological sites, antiques and works of art.


The state has adopted a Law for the Protection and preservation of the Republic’s documentary and archival heritage.

Show all Profile-News...

San Marino/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.2 Heritage issues and policies

The 19th century was marked by a slowly increasing social awareness of monuments and cultural goods to be preserved. Yet, it was only in the early 1900s that the State introduced legislation to regulate the matter. Law n. 17 of 1919, subsequently amended by Law n. 87 of 1995 entitled Single Text of Town Planning and Building Laws is the only piece of legislation providing for the preservation of cultural goods, the scope of which covers different categories of artefacts. The Law, however, did not specify the ownership of the goods and does not address the sale of such goods. In 1998, Law n. 30 outlined the general rules on the State accounting system and provided provisions which prevent the sale or transfer of: State property holding historical, archaeological and artistic interest; paleontological goods discovered or found under the soil; and goods for public use by the community including forests, museum and gallery collections, etc.

A review of the 1919 Law on the protection of monuments, museums, archaeological sites, antiques and works of art is now being considered. During the international symposium on the art market entitled "Mercanti e Banche" ("Dealers and Banks"), held in San Marino in November 2013, San Marino presented new political guidelines for the development of the art market and suggestions were provided for the drafting of amendments to the aforesaid law.  The country intends to adopt new relevant legislation so that San Marino becomes an international player in this sector. To date, indeed, there are no rules in force on the buying and selling of works of art, or on relevant taxation. The current San Marino legislation does not encompass the expression "cultural object". It does not cover temporary exportation of cultural objects created by dead artists or produced more than fifty years ago or of contemporary works. It also does not cover final and temporary importation and does not regulate the promotion and public use of movable and immovable goods of cultural interest.

A list of State owned movable and immovable goods has been compiled yet requires a great deal of updating. This systematic recording and listing of State property has enabled the people of San Marino to identify, for the first time, property belonging them. The goods selected and included in the list have been examined and approved by the Commission for the Preservation of Monuments, Antiques and Art Works. Several unsuccessful attempts have been made to compile a complete record of movable goods owned by private individuals and religious institutions, which makes preservation and safeguarding of such goods more difficult.

In April 2005, a popular petition requesting the establishment of a structure coordinating cultural organisations and bodies on the territory was submitted. It called for a more effective and rapid implementation of the provisions and laws, in force or to be promulgated, in the fields of preservation, protection and promotion of the historical, cultural, environmental, archaeological, monumental, art and architectonic heritage of the Republic. In July 2005, the San Marino Parliament accepted this petition and urged the government to take necessary measures. A Permanent Parliamentary Commission was set up by the responsible Minister to investigate.

In October 2011, a group of citizens submitted a popular petition (Istanza d'Arengo) to the Captains Regent "to carry out a census of artifacts or buildings having monumental importance under Law no. 147/2005, which are not in good condition in terms of maintenance, with a view to their protection and enhancement". During its sitting of February 2012, the Parliament approved this petition and committed the government to adopt, within its fields of competence, the relevant measures, which will have to be illustrated, within six months following the granting of the petition, to the competent Permanent Parliamentary Commission (IV) by the member of the Congress of State (Minister of Territory) entrusted with this task. For further information on the Parliamentary Commissions, see chapter 3.2.

The Documentation Centre of the State Library, the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Bologna University, started an important project to recover, organise and promote the linguistic history and culture of San Marino. This project, which started in the early 1990s and continues today, intends to include intangible cultural goods in its research including: singing and traditional folk music, superstitions, sayings, season-related feasts, technical knowledge, working cycles, child games, folk medicine, mills and furnaces. The "San Marino Folk Tales" – collected in the 1920s by scholar Walter Anderson – represent the largest and most important literature which records the oral traditions of the Republic (it includes 118 texts, out of which 54 are in dialect).

The Department of Education (former Department of Education, University, Cultural Institutes and Information) has been working since 2002 on a new idea for classifying, preserving and promoting the book heritage of San Marino by building a cooperative system among all libraries in the country. In addition to the San Marino National Library, the implementation of the project also involves the University, the State Museum, the Museum of the Emigrant, high schools, Social Centres, the Music Institute, the Naturalist Centre, the European Centre for Disaster Medicine (CEMEC), the Library of the State Hospital, the Court and the Popular Libraries of Faetano and Serravalle. A future goal is to make the results available on the Internet. Following the approval of the project, a feasibility study was carried out to examine how the results and data can be included in a homogeneous way in a single catalogue of San Marino libraries. Some cultural centres are already working with the new system. A considerable part of the material preserved in the main libraries is already available on the Library Network of the Republic of San Marino, which, in the years to come, will include the entire book heritage of San Marino.

In June 2008, an Agreement on Cooperation in Bibliographic Services was signed between the Republic of San Marino and Italy, which allows San Marino libraries to become part of the Italian national library system. The alliance between Italy and San Marino in the field of libraries has been characterised by a further step forward. Following the conclusion of the framework agreement with the Italian Ministry of Cultural Goods and Activities, the first concrete step has been taken for the inclusion of the Republic of San Marino in the Italian National Library System (SBN). Indeed, in October 2008, the Agreement between the San Marino Department of Education and Culture and the Institute for Artistic, Cultural and Natural Goods of the Emilia Romagna Region was signed in order to become part of the Network of Libraries of the Emilia Romagna Region, one of the most advanced in Italy, which is under the responsibility of the Province of Ravenna. For the six San Marino libraries involved so far, this is a fundamental opportunity in terms of qualitative improvement, with regard both to computerisation and cataloguing and to the services offered to citizens and students, who are automatically registered with all libraries of the Emilia Romagna Network. The Republic of San Marino has chosen a middle course between becoming part of an already existing Network and creating a completely Sammarinese one. Once it has acquired the necessary skills and knowledge thanks to the support of the Ravenna Network, San Marino could opt for independence. The advantages for San Marino are connected with the possibility to disseminate its culture and history throughout Italy and to participate in the projects developed by the Network of which it is part. Moreover, the Republic will have the possibility to use the software Sebina Open Library, which has been adopted not only by the Emilia Romagna Network, but also by half the Italian libraries.

The Museum of the Emigrant was created in 1997 with the involvement of the resident and non resident population. Initially conceived of as a "memory archive" to collect, preserve and disseminate information on the emigrants' exodus from San Marino, the Museum has become the main custodian of San Marino cultural roots and identity. The Museum' activities offer residents and non residents the opportunity to meet and exchange views. (For further information, see also chapter 4.2.8 and chapter 4.2.11). The Museum is among the sponsors of the First Dictionary of Emigration, a cultural publishing project by Tiziana Grassi Donat-Cattin and Mina Capussi, which involves several Italian scholars and experts dealing with migration issues and contains documents and iconographic material from the San Marino Study Centre on Emigration.

In 2014 San Marino celebrated for the first time the World Day for Audiovisual Heritage introduced by UNESCO. On this occasion, the Research Centre on Migration presented a project for the preservation of audiovisual documents relating to San Marino migration: "San Marino migration told by migrants", sponsored by the UNESCO National Commission. It consists of 226 video interviews to San Marino migrants, collected by the Centre between 1995 and 2005. The project aims to protect audiovisual documents that are extremely vulnerable, while promoting greater dissemination and enhancement of collective oral memory, which lies at the heart San Marino people's identity and sense of belonging.

With a view to collaborating with other external entities in order to make the State artistic heritage more visible, the Ministry of Education, Culture and University is examining the costs and feasibility of a project concerning a series of museums (outside classic circuits, which already include the most important museums in the world). Altogether, these museums would constitute a network for mutual promotion and knowledge and this would allow visitors of a partner entity to find paper and optical material concerning the other museums involved in this initiative, including San Marino State Museum.

The Museum of Rural Civilisation and Traditions, inaugurated in 2009, is part of a skilful recovery of the San Marino cultural heritage by government institutions. The "Casa di Fabrica" hosting the Museum is one of the oldest patron houses on the San Marino territory, which was included in the Republic's cadastral maps in 1770. Thanks to conservative restoration, this house has maintained its original features.

The House displays objects connected with life and work conditions and habits of the past rural civilisation. The Museum testifies to the heritage of traditions of the rural world and habits of this area, where historical importance goes hand in hand with the cultural enhancement of the country.  

With reference to the policies implemented by public cultural institutions for the recovery of San Marino's intangible heritage, the first memory writing laboratory was organised in 2010. The first edition was followed by other editions of this laboratory, which was organised with the support of the Holden School in Turin specialising in narration. The laboratory has promoted a conception of memory both active and interactive, by involving young people and adults in an experience useful to transmit their idea of being citizens of a small State. By interacting with each other and composing verses, narrations and plays, the participants have contributed to nourishing and keeping alive the stories that characterise the territory.

Article 2 of Delegated Decree no. 200 of December 2010 "Socially useful activities" identifies the activities aimed at recovering traditions, trades and cultures among public utility functions in the framework of tasks to be performed within the Public Administration and in the Public Sector, including Autonomous State Corporations. These activities are carried out by unemployed workers or workers in the so-called mobility lists, who are chosen also in consideration of their previous tasks and of their professional skills.

In 2010 the University Library was enriched with an important book collection, the Ronchey Collection, which adds to the other two particularly valuable collections, the Young Collection on Memory (2000 volumes with a section of about 200 ancient books including manuscripts and editions until 1800) and the Ruggiero Romano Collection (7000 volumes and 200 magazines particularly relevant to the study of modern age history). The Ronchey Collection, made up of more than three thousand volumes from the personal library of the journalist and writer Alberto Ronchey and donated by his family to the San Marino University, significantly represents the Italian, European and world cultural context of the second half of 1900s. This is an important acquisition which is now part of the heritage of the Country, its institutions and its people (see chapter 6.3). The same goes for the more than 50 new volumes that are now part of the common book heritage thanks to some generous donors, who replied to the cultural invitation entitled "A book under the tree". This initiative, promoted by the State Library and Book Heritage between December 2011 and January 2012, was aimed at promoting each and everyone's active participation in increasing the collective book heritage (for further details on this initiative see also chapter 6.3). The success of this project has justified its institutionalisation and now this initiative is organised on an annual basis with enthusiasm and great participation by the readers.

In 2010, a group of citizens established the FAS - San Marino Environment Fund - a non-profit foundation aimed at protecting and enhancing San Marino landscape, historical and artistic elements by promoting the sense of belonging to a territory which is also a State. Established with the objective to support respect for the nature, arts, history and traditions of the Republic of San Marino, the FAS carries out activities aimed at supporting and promoting the local heritage by favouring study, research and documentation activities, as well as any other activity aimed at the protection, preservation and recovery of the goods and environments making up the cultural heritage. The FAS also promotes the San Marino cultural heritage outside the national borders in collaboration with the Italian FAI. On the proposal of the FAS and with the involvement of the Ministry of Territory and Environment, in 2014 a convention was signed to bring new light to the "Santuario della Tanaccia" (Tanaccia Sanctuary), an archaeological site located at the top of Mount Titano. The site is one of the most ancient and evocative in San Marino and dates back to many centuries before the Foundation of the Republic (301 AD) and couples its historical value with its natural and cultural importance. The project for the enhancement of the area is aimed at making the very ancient votive altar, the cistern and the neighbouring areas accessible, while outlining related botanical, archaeological, scenic, geological and wildlife values in suitable exhibition spaces.

In 2012, to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the inauguration of the electric railway San Marino-Rimini, two important events were organised: first, the electric locomotive of the train, after its conservative and functional restoration, was placed again in the Montale Tunnel, where it operated from 1932 to 1944, and secondly, the documentary film entitled "The entire history of the white and light blue train" was realised by a group of San Marino authors and producers. Both events represent a trip down memory lane, recalling something very dear to the San Marino people. These initiatives have a twofold value: on the one hand, they have a historical and cultural significance and are also directed to new generations; on the other hand, they pay homage to the solidarity of the San Marino people, who during the Second World War gave shelter to more than a hundred thousand refugees from the surrounding areas in the train tunnels.

The project entitled "Heritage" was realised in 2012 and involved the collection of the Modern and Contemporary Art Gallery, which has never been displayed in its entirety due to the lack of a permanent seat. In the context of this initiative, a whole day was dedicated to the discovery of some works of the collection and of the state art heritage. On this occasion, the works were placed in various buildings of the historic centre and explained, through conversations, verbal reflections and performances, by artists, critics, historians and writers. This event, aimed at identifying an adequate place and rethinking the relations existing between this cultural institute, the territory and the local community, was accompanied by education programmes intended for elementary school pupils and by a workshop dedicated to young artists and scholars of San Marino.

By Law no. 50/2012 the State adopted measures for the "Protection and preservation of the Republic's documentary and archival heritage". Indeed, under the Declaration on the Citizens' Rights and Fundamental Principles of San Marino Constitutional Order (for further information see chapter 5.1.1), the State shall protect its historic and artistic heritage, as well as its natural environment (Article 10, paragraph 3). The documentary and archival heritage is part of the Republic's historical and cultural heritage, which is a fundamental and primary source for its history, culture and collective memory. Therefore, the protection to which the law refers is provided by the State and is in the interest of the State itself, with a view to ensuring the rights of natural, legal, public and private persons, as well as a better use of documents for historic and scientific research and the promotion of culture.

On the proposal of the Commission for the Preservation of Monuments, Antiques and Art Works, in 2014 a notice of public competition was issued for two grants for an inventory of the historic and artistic assets of the Saint's Basilica (also known as Pieve, the largest Church in San Marino) and their subsequent classification.

The first part of the inventory was completed and published in April 2015. The 1700 goods listed in the inventory include vestments, liturgical texts and objects, paintings, sculptures, ornaments and documents, dated between the 15th and the 21st century. Such items were brought to light and inventoried by two scientists, winning scholarships provided by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Culture, in agreement with the Rector of the Basilica, the Saint's Massari (institutional body composed of two members appointed by the Parliament for the entire legislature under Section XLIII, Book I of the Statutes), and the Commission for the Preservation of Monuments, Antiques and Artworks. The next step will be the inventory of other material in storage, which consists of about 3 000 objects, and to make it widely known through an exhibition and a publication. The goods, which have currently no dedicated exhibition space, will be displayed in the Crossbowers' Galleries, Logge dei Balestrieri, (for more information, see chapter 7.1), which are being restored and renovated. A section of the area will be used as a permanent exhibition space, hosting works coming from San Marino, while another section will host temporary exhibitions of San Marino or foreign artists.

The importance of this project exceeds the commercial value of the assets recovered: indeed, many of the objects testify to the link, across the centuries, between San Marino community, its Holy Founder and the Basilica, which is the centre of religious and public life. The goods have been recovered for the benefit of the whole community and its identity memory (for more information on the digitization of cultural goods, see chapter 4.2.11).

Chapter published: 07-10-2015

Your Comments on this Chapter?