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Campione d'Italia in April 2006
Campione d'Italia in April 2006

Campione d'Italia (Comasco: Campiùn, pronounced [kãˈp(j)ũː]) is a comune of the Province of Como in the Lombardy region of Italy and an exclave surrounded by the Swiss canton of Ticino. At its closest, the exclave is less than one kilometre (0.6 mi) from the rest of Italy, but the intervening mountainous terrain requires a journey by road of over 14 km (9 mi) to reach the nearest Italian town, Lanzo d'Intelvi, and over 28 km (17 mi) to reach the city of Como.


In the first century BC the Romans founded the garrison town of Campilonum to protect their territories from Helvetii invasions.[4]

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.[4]

When Ticino chose to become part of the Swiss Confederation in 1798, the people of Campione chose to remain part of Lombardy.[5] 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.[4]

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 Italian dictator/Prime Minister Benito Mussolini and an ornamental gate to the city was built. This was to assert the exclave's Italian character.[4]

During World War II, the US Office of Strategic Services (OSS – the precursor to the CIA), partly through Berne OSS chief Allen Welsh Dulles, maintained a unit in Campione for operations in Italy.[6] At the time the Italian fascist regime did not have control over the exclave. The Swiss ignored the situation as long as the Americans kept a low profile. Postage stamps were issued during this period inscribed "Campione d'Italia" and valued in Swiss currency.[7]

Economy and administration

Campione has a considerable amount of economic and administrative integration with Switzerland. The legal tender in the village is the Swiss franc,[8] but the euro is widely accepted. Vehicle registration plates are not Italian, but Swiss; similarly, the telephone system is almost entirely operated by Swisscom, so that calls from Italy and all other countries outside Switzerland (with very few exceptions such as calling the town hall) require the international dialing code for Switzerland (+41). Mail may be sent to Campione using either a Swiss postal code or an Italian one using Switzerland or Italy as destination country respectively.

Campione will formally become part of the EU customs territory in 2020; until then it de facto comes within Swiss customs control.[9]

Pursuant to bilateral agreements, Italians residing in Campione also benefit from many services and facilities located in Swiss territory, such as hospital care, that would otherwise be available only to Swiss residents.[10] People working in Campione but living in Switzerland have access to Swiss unemployment and other state help, which does not apply to those living within Campione city limits, which is legally Italy.[11]

Like the Italian town of Livigno, it is exempt from EU VAT, and the recent change to include the village in the EU customs territory has not changed this.[9] Campione took advantage of its special status by operating the Casinò di Campione, as gambling laws are less strict than in either Italy or Switzerland; also a legacy of the pre-World War II era.

Security is provided by the Carabinieri (Italian military police) and the city also has a Polizia Locale group. Firefighters and ambulances are Swiss.[12]

The Casinò di Campione was the largest employer in the municipality up until its closure in 2018. The casino was founded in 1917, owned by the Italian government, and operated by the municipality. The income from the casino was sufficient for the operation of Campione without the imposition of taxes, or obtaining of other revenue.[6] It was Europe's largest casino.[13]

The casino was declared bankrupt on 27 July 2018 and is currently closed. The economic impact is threatening to collapse the entire village, with everything from pizzeria owners and taxi drivers to the municipal fire department on the list of creditors. Locals fear that without the casino, the commune will become a ghost town. [11]


Schools within the comune are the Scuola Materna G. Garibaldi, the Scuola Elementare, and the Scuola Media.[14]

See also

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