The Italian village that wants to be a country

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(CNN) – There is a small village on the top of a beautiful hill in the Italian Riviera with a big dream: to become an independent nation.

The Seborga Principality already has its own flag, anthem, passport, stamps, currency and, of course, a king. She hopes that one day she will be backed by the legal recognition of her sovereignty, which she has been seeking since the 1960s.

For now, however, Seborga is a picturesque village near France, in the northern Italian province of Imperia, with just over 300 inhabitants and covering about five square miles of land.

The road to the city has an unofficial border crossing, complete with sentry boxes painted in the colors of the Seborga flag, which are occasionally operated by self-proclaimed border guards.

Beautifully located, Seborga offers spectacular views of the Riviera below, including the Principality of Monaco – perhaps the world’s most famous microstate and the inspiration for Seborga’s continued pursuit of independence.

“Lawyers are working on it,” says her quiet highness Princess Nina of Seborga, “which is why I was elected as princess.”

Ancient history

A sign welcomes visitors to the city.

A sign welcomes visitors to the city.

Courtesy Principeto de Seborga

In Seborga, where the monarchy is not inherited, elections are held every seven years and Princess Nina is the first woman to hold this position.

Born in Germany, Nina Dobler Menegatto lived in Monaco when she discovered Seborga 15 years ago with her ex-husband and ex-prince, Marcelo I, who left in 2019.

“At first I thought the whole story was funny and I didn’t take it seriously,” he says of Seborga’s claim to independence, “but then I read it and it’s all true.”

The claim dates back to the early 1960’s when Giorgio Carbone, who ran a local florist’s cooperative, looked into the city’s history and saw that something was wrong.

Seborga was donated to the Benedictine monks in 954, until they sold it to the state of Sardinia in 1729, which would later become part of the Italian state. But, according to Karbonn, there is no historical record of sales, which means Seborga was never legally part of Italy.

“It’s hard to imagine that, almost 300 years later, this absence of documentation is the real basis on which legal recognition can be based,” says Graziano Graziani, an Italian expert on micronextures. “However, the community that believes in Seborga’s independence depends on its demands in a certain way.”

The Italian Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights have previously rejected Seborga’s bid, but the princess is uncertain. “It’s obviously not an easy case,” she says. “It won’t happen today or tomorrow, but nothing is impossible: see Brexit.”

A fairy tale?

Princess Nina agrees that the story is good for business. “It’s also great for tourism, let’s face it. Who doesn’t want fairy tales, princesses and horse-drawn carriages? So yes, it’s a tourist attraction, but it’s also part of Seborga’s history,” she says. .

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She insists that there is nothing illegal in the activities of the kingdom – the passport is for entertainment only and is accepted in local currency, Luigino, shops around the city, but it is essentially a souvenir.

However, Giorgio Carbone, who ruled Seborga as the first prince until his death in 2009, pushed him a little further.

“It closed the border in the 1960s and will not allow anyone to come up anymore, it refuses to pay taxes to Italy and it only rides on its car with a seborgan plate,” she says.

One way or another, these stunts put Seborga on the map, adding tourism to the main components of the local economy, floriculture and olives. Carbon is fondly remembered. The princess says, “What the man did was wonderful, he deserves a monument.”

Prior to the hit from Kovid, the city attracted tourists as far as Japan, although the atmosphere was significantly different from the glamor of nearby Monaco.

“Seborga is unlike Monaco in many ways – it’s very down-to-earth, quiet and magical, and the people who live there are very natural and welcoming,” says prisoner Katarine Knox, originally from Estonia. “When you go to a pizza bar, you know everyone by name.”

Unsuccessful rebellion

Seborga's independence claims have helped bring in tourists.

Seborga’s independence claims have helped bring in tourists.

Courtesy Principeto de Seborga

Appropriate for the monarchy, Seborga has its share in the play. In 2016, Nicolas Matte, a French citizen, announced himself as the new prince at an event while the royal couple was abroad. Described in the local press As a coup d’├ętat.

“Imitation and deception are the order of the day when it comes to micronation that claims to be real states,” says Graziani. “This is probably to claim sovereignty and related rights that in the future, any authority decides to recognize Seborga’s independence – or just to be able to present itself as a ‘nobleman’ from a small European state.”

Mutt is one of the few pretenders for the throne that has surfaced over the years. Government Publish list As a warning; These include social media profiles and websites that often sell merchandise or currency, which belongs to the legitimate Seborgan government.
The government itself says it does not give anyone the title of nobility, and it is made up of only nine ministers, as well as a council of born and raised Seborgans. That Make their own laws, But at present, they have no legal value and the real power is in the hands of a regularly elected official. “Seborga has an Italian mayor,” explains Princess Nina. “Officially, we should be at war – but unofficially, we are friends.”
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