12/11/2012 General, Italy, Colonies, States & Areas, Switzerland
Have you heard of it?
A small enclave on the shore of Lake Lugano, cut off from the rest of Italy and surrounded by Switzerland, Campione d’Italia owes its existence to the Milanese Abbots of St Ambrose who first occupied the land in mediaeval times. The municipality’s Coat of Arms reflects this past, being a tri-partite shield bearing a Shepherd’s crook representing the church’s power, a Whip as a reminder of the defeat of local heretics and a Snail depicting the migratory nature of the local craftsmen.
Although only 1km from Italy by direct line, it requires a drive of over 14km to reach the Italian border which has resulted in the municipality being subject to Swiss border duties and the use of Swiss currency. Exemption from EU VAT and less prohibitive gambling laws mean that a casino is one of the main sources of revenue for the area.
Stamps were issued for a period during 1944 under the auspices of the American OSS base and subject to Swiss Postal Authority rules, the first two sets bearing the Coat of Arms and a third set depicting local views and buildings, all being priced in Swiss francs.