Summer Study Abroad Series: “The Best is Higher”

Blog by: Emily Kinnear

Major at ECU:Masters of Business Administration

Today we went to visit the Republic of San Marino, a tiny country located within Italy’s east coast on top of Mount Titano.  The Republic of San Marino claims to be the oldest existing sovereign state and constitutional republic.  The size of the country itself is miniscule, measuring only twenty-four square miles with a population of 30,000 people.  When we first arrived at San Marino we thought the entire country spanned one main road that only took about twenty minutes to completely walk the full length of the road.  However, once we began walking with the tour guide, we all realized that a majority of the town had been above our heads the whole time.  After walking through the Porto San Francesco you will find the rest of the Republic that can only be reached by walking up winding cobblestone streets.

Republic of San Marino

The further up you go the more pleasant surprises reveal themselves; from quaint boutiques to a gorgeous panoramic view of the ocean, Rimini, and other Italian towns.  At the very top of the mountain are three castles, also called towers, from the medieval time period.  I couldn’t help but think about what great shape the citizens must be from having to climb up steep hills everyday just to run errands.  The tour guide kept reminding us as we struggled up the steep hills, “The best is higher”.

San Marino’s prime location at 6000 meters above sea level is the reason they were able to become a separate republic from the country of Italy.  Not only are they extremely high up but also they are almost completely surrounded by tall stonewalls.  The Porto San Francesco is the only entryway and exit to the Republic and was often heavily guarded.  When they were first founded it was almost impossible for any intruders to takeover or penetrate the walls.  Military officials were able to spot potential invaders from miles away and prepare for battle with more than enough time to spare.  Although it would seem that being completely isolated from all of Italy would hinder rather than help San Marino, they managed to be fully functional.  San Marino has its own government, police force, and military, as well as most of the supplies and materials they may need.  Thanks to all of the technological advances today, they are able to import any supplies they are unable to get on their own.

San Marino Shopping

Due to their higher location and almost complete isolation, the Republic of San Marino has been forced to remain almost completely self-sufficient in government ordeals and business matters. San Marino has a number of bars, restaurants, shops, and other necessities that any country would need to survive.  Unlike many other small towns, San Marino has a large amount of clothing stores with a wide variety of different merchandise.  As a fashion merchandise major in my undergrad studies, I found this extremely interesting. Many small towns often lack a substantial supply of modern fashion products such as clothing, shoes, and purses.  Because of San Marino’s location, it is very difficult for citizens to access fashion and receive packages through the mail if they were to order things online.  The constant demand for clothing and large supply of customers helps maintain a healthy business environment for small businesses, especially clothing and accessory stores.  After witnessing the clothing store and fashion merchandise environment of San Marino, I cannot wait to experience the fashion environment in other parts of Italy!

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