[I got a postcard from… is a guest editorial]
When you imagine a trip to Italy, there are a few cities and sights that tend to come to your mind immediately, right?
Rome, we bet, dominates most of the world’s image of this country, but the wonders of Florence and Venice aren’t too far behind. We also think of seaside stops on the Mediterranean and sprawling vineyards producing some of the world’s best wine, but Italy’s allure doesn’t stop with these highlights.
What about Campione d’Italia, a small Italian exclave included in the Province of Como but completely surrounded by Swiss territory? In this post we will guide you through the things — and there so many! — that you can do and see there.
First, just a little bit of history
The municipality actually dates back to the first century BC, when it was designed as a Roman outpost and a defense against tribal invasions. Over the years, it has become more distinctly Italian even as the surrounding area became Swiss. And when Switzerland denied an appeal for total annexation in the 1800s, it seemed the area’s fate was sealed, and Campione has been an Italian exclave ever since. In addition to being interesting from an historical and geographic standpoint, it’s also a wonderful place to visit and spend a few days if you have the chance.
Now, the best part
Here’s a look at some of the area’s charms and attractions:
*Madonna Dei Ghirli is a stunning and somewhat unconventional church located on Lake Lugano in Campione d’Italia. Boasting a Baroque façade and a total design that includes elements of numerous architectural periods and styles, it’s one of the more interesting buildings you’ll find in Italy, and that’s saying something. It’s been said that Campione was once famous for producing skilled stonecutters and sculptors (which again, within Italy, is saying something), and this sanctuary is thought to be a testament to some of their abilities. The church itself dates back over a thousand years, and you’ll find hints of numerous centuries past throughout its design.
*Casino di Campione is actually the largest casino in Europe currently, and is celebrating its 100th year (though it was relocated and essentially redone in 2007). During the day, it’s a curious building that actually looks somewhat out of place dominating the lakeside, but at night it lights up like a beacon of entertainment. This is the sort of attraction that only seems to get more interesting with each passing year, particularly given the migration of casino culture to the internet in the past decade. With improvements in tech and ever-increasing player bases, top casino sites can now offer a range of slot and table games that dwarfs that of any one in-person casino. But because of its exotic locale and its size, Casino di Campione is still able to offer some charms that the internet can’t match.
*Da Candida is a small and unassuming restaurant in town, but let’s be honest: if you’re visiting Italy, you’re probably hoping for some uniquely delicious food, and this is where you can find it. It may be small, but it’s refined and romantic. Also, it won a Michelin star on the back of appealing ambiance and the blending of French and Italian flavors. For a little spot situated in Italy and Switzerland at the same time, more or less, it’s exactly the kind of food one might hope to find.
*Lake Lugano Cruises. A lot of the appeal of Campione is that it’s built right up against Lake Lugano, lending it a storybook appearance. So naturally a lot of visitors will be tempted to get out on the lake in one way or another. You may be able to find a boat rental or even a kayak to take out on the lake during the summer months, but you can also book a pleasure cruise around the lake. It’s worth noting, though, that most of these seem to come out of the Swiss towns across the water from Campione.
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