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The pretty town which claims to be its own country after paperwork blunder
December 17, 2023
Seborga is a tiny micronation set on the scenic Italian Riviera with big hopes and dreams. The Principality of Seborga already has its own flag, national anthem, passports, currency, and even a monarch.
It hopes one day to gain legal recognition over its sovereignty, but for now, it is a picturesque town in the northern Italian province of Imperia, close to France, and home to 320 permanent residents.
Seborga was donated to Benedictine monks in the year 954, until they sold it in 1729 to the Kingdom of Sardinia, which would later become part of the Kingdom of Italy.
But it is thought there is no historical record of the sale, which means Seborga was never legitimately part of Italy at all.
Speaking to CNN Travel, Graziano Graziani, an expert on Italian micronations said: “It is difficult to think that, almost 300 years later, this absence of documentation is a realistic basis on which to build a legal recognition. However, the community that believes in the independence of Seborga bases its demands precisely on it.”
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There is nothing illegal in the activities of the principality as real usage passports are not allowed and the local currency, the Luigino, is accepted in shops around town but is essentially a souvenir.
The principality is currently ruled by Princess Nina Menegatto. The German-born was elected to her role in November 2019 and is Seborga’s first female ruler.
Speaking to AFP she said: “I didn’t think I’d ever become a princess. But I got a lot of support from the population and I really appreciate it.
“I guess every little girl has a dream of being a princess. It’s like a fairytale.
However, the town’s population is withering away as people are moving to bigger cities to find better jobs. By declaring independence, Seborga hopes to reverse the trend and drive more tourism to the town.
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The principality also has its own constitution, a national anthem, and a coat of arms. It even has its own national motto, “Sub umbra sede”, which translates to “Sit in the shade”.
Princess Nina added: “We are currently ruled by Italy, so we need to respect the Italian law. But also the comune knows that the Principality of Seborga has a major influence in tourism and our history is unique. We collaborate in many ways.”
It’s easy to reach Seborga from Riviera towns and Monaco is less than an hour’s drive away.
Despite its small size, there are plenty of sites to see, including the Palazzo dei Monaci in the town’s main square, Piazza San Martino. The palazzo was once used by the Benedictine monks whose order ruled the principality, and as a mint where the Seborga currency was produced.
The medieval St. Bernard Church, at the entrance to Seborga, is another noteworthy site, but it is definitely worth seeing the sweeping views of the Italian and French coasts by heading to the Belvedere in Martiri Patrioti Square.