Day 5 of the micronations road trip took us to a halfway point between Liechtenstein and our next target, the Principality of Monaco. The halfway point we selected was Lake Lugano, Switzerland (which brought our country count for just 5 days of the trip to five, as it happens . . .). GPS route for the day’s drive:
As some have noted, this blog has a particular interest in geography and geographic anomalies. Lake Lugano played to this interest. Although the type of geographical anomaly there is very unusual, we had nonetheless encountered this type of anomaly twice already during the trip: an enclave.
The Italian commune of Campione on Lake Lugano lies entirely inside the Swiss canton of Ticino. The map below shows Swizerland in pink and Lake Lugano in deep blue. The enclaved Italian commune isolated entirely inside of Switzerland is in the southeast section of the lake:
Unlike the enclaves of Vatican City and San Marino, where an entire nation resided inside another country, this enclave represented just a tiny piece of Italy, very similar to the Spanish town (or Catalonian town, if you side with the secessionists there) of Livia stuck inside of France, which we blogged about last year.
Although we’ve only been posting information on why things still exist on the micronation blogs themselves, we figured this enclave deserved some detail, so here’s the explanation for why it exists, courtesy of Wikipedia:
“In the first century BC the Romans founded the garrison town of Campilonum to protect their territories from Helvetii invasions.
In 777, Toto of Campione, a local Lombard lord, left his inheritance to the archbishopric of Milan. Ownership was transferred to the abbey of Sant’Ambrogio. In 1512, the surrounding area of Ticino was transferred from the ownership of the bishop of Como to Switzerland by Pope Julius II, as thanks for support in the War of the Holy League. However, the abbey maintained control over what is now Campione d’Italia and some territory on the western bank of Lake Lugano.
When Ticino chose to become part of the Swiss Confederation in 1798, the people of Campione chose to remain part of Lombardy. In 1800, Ticino proposed exchanging Indemini for Campione. In 1814 a referendum was held, and the residents of Campione opposed it. In 1848, during the wars of Italian unification, Campione petitioned Switzerland for annexation. This was rejected due to the Swiss desire for neutrality.
After Italian unification in 1861, all land west of Lake Lugano and half of the lake were given to Switzerland so that Swiss trade and transport would not have to pass through Italy. The d’Italia was added to the name of Campione in the 1930s by Prime Minister Benito Mussolini and an ornamental gate to the city was built. This was to assert the exclave’s Italian-ness.”
On to our day in Lake Lugano.
First, we definitely picked the right place to stay – spectacular views of the lake:
And a complementary electric Smart Car for forays down to the lake . . .
Along the lake . . .
The Romanesque Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli on the shores of the lake:
The church was built in 1499 in recognition of the cessation of conflict between the Guelphs and Ghibellines and to thank the Observant Franciscans for their work during the plague of 1498. It features a very busy 15th century fresco by a student of Leonardo da Vinci that’s still perfectly intact and considered to be one of the best examples of art during the Lombard Renaissance.
Heading back to The View in our sweet ride:
Incredible dinner outside at The View, overlooking Lake Lugano:
Unbeknownst to us, August 1 is Swiss National Day, so not only did we have a sweet dinner overlooking the lake, but got to experience a great fireworks display, to boot.