HomeTravelSmall Italian town in a decades-long fight to claim independence

Small Italian town in a decades-long fight to claim independence


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A small village on top of a promontory of the Ligurian Alps has been demanding independence from Rome for over 50 years.

The Principality of Seborga, in Italy‘s most northwesternmost corner, was unilaterally created in 1963 by the first self-proclaimed ruled, Giorgio Carbone.

Carbone took on the name of Prince Giorgio I after claiming to have found documents in the Vatican archives certifying the village never belonged to Italy’s once-ruling House of Savoy.

According to the man, independence from the House meant Seborga was never officially part of the Kingdom of Italy and, when a referendum was held in 1946, never acceded to the Republic of Italy.

The principality’s official site argues the village had existed as a sovereign state within Italy’s current borders since at least 954 and then became a principality of the Holy Roman Empire in 1079.

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The site reads: “Starting from 1079, with the authorization of Pope Gregory VII, according to the widespread custom of that time, the abbots of Lérins were able to claim the title of Princes-Abbots of Seborga.

“(…)On January 30, 1729 the deed of sale of Seborga was signed in Paris in the presence of the lawyer Francesco Lea, representing the King of Sardinia, and of Fathers Benoît de Benoît and Lambert Jordany, respectively treasurer and dean of the Lérins Abbey, in representation of the Prince-Abbot Fauste da Ballon.

“This act, which was never registered, did not explicitly provide that the King of Sardinia would acquire sovereignty over Seborga (so much so that ‘Prince of Seborga’ never appears among his official titles), but simply that Seborga’s territory would become his personal possession, over which he would exercise the role of protector.”

Based on the documents Carbone claimed to have recovered, in 1963 he was appointed as putative head of state and took on the title of His Serene Highness Giorgio I, Prince of Seborga.

Carbone appointed a Cabinet and established a local currency, the luigino, as well as a flag for the principality.

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While maintaining inhabitants desire to be recognised as independent from Rome, Carbone’s appointment was mostly seen as a PR stunt to attract more tourists to the area.

The principality operates side by side with the town of Seborga, which elects its own mayor according to Italian law.

The small town has been recognised as one of Italy’s most beautiful villages thanks to its quaint roads and alleys and the stunning views over the Riviera Ligure and the Ligurian Alps.

Carbone, who died in 2009, was succeeded at the helm of the micro nation by Swiss-born Marcello Menegatto.

As the role is not hereditary, Soborga residents have held elections every seven years and Menegatto was elected for a second term in 2017 after fending off an attempt to dethrone him launched by British-born DJ Mark Dezzani.

The businessman, however, stood down before the end of his second term and was succeeded by his ex-wife, Nina Menegatto – now known locally as HSH Princess Nina of Seborga.

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