Campione D'Italia, Lombardy
Campione D'Italia as the name suggests is a town with its heart and soul firmly rooted in Italy. This isn't anything unusual for a town nestled on the banks of Lake Lugano as several other communities on its idyllic shores are also situated on Italian soil - only 67% of the lake is actually located in Switzerland while the remainder falls within the boundary of Lombardy, Northern Italy.
There is, however, one interesting aspect to the Campione story and that is the fact that the town is geographically located in the Swiss Canton of Ticino (the Italian speaking region of Southern Switzerland) and is therefore completely surrounded on all sides by Switzerland.
The webcam above shows live pictures of Campione D'Italia, the new Casino and views across the lake to the city of Lugano. We would like to thank Swiss Tecno Cams and Campione Town for making this possible.
It was back in 1798 that the residents of Campione chose to remain part of Lombardy while the rest of Ticino was being annexed by the Swiss Confederation. To this day that decision has meant that this picturesque little village on the south eastern shore of Lake Lugano has stood isolated from the rest of Italy, and in order for its residents to reach it they have to drive about 10km by road - it is only about 1km as the crow flies but the mountains that surround Campione make the road journey much longer.
People often say that Campione has the best of both worlds. They say that the 2,300 residents of the town have within their midst everything that is good about Switzerland and everything that is good about Italy. For example, this 2.6 km square parcel of land uses Swiss Francs, utilises the Swiss postal and telephone system (including dialling code) and has cars that all bear the Swiss emblem on their license plates. But because it is still part of Lombardy it also benefits from being Italian, too. Probably the most beneficial aspect of this is that residents are exempt from paying the full Italian Value Added Tax (VAT). They also do not pay any municipal charges, which effectively makes Campione a very small tax haven - taxes and municipal charges are subsidised by revenue generated through tourism and the world famous Campione Casino.
Campione Art & Culture
As with many of the towns that cling to the shore of Lake Lugano, Campione is steeped in history. From old cobbled streets to ancient churches and their well preserved frescoes, there is a wealth of art and culture packed into this neat little town.
For centuries Campione was famous for producing skilled stonecutters and sculptors and many travelled to far flung places to work on the grand architectural projects of the time. They travelled to Milan, Bergamo, Verona, Venice, Rome and Modena and applied their skills to the famous churches and buildings that you still see standing today. But some also worked closer to home, and the sanctuary of the Madonna Dei Ghirli in Campione stands as testament to their skill and craftsmanship.
The earliest mention of this church was in ancient scriptures dating back over one thousand years. However, since then the church has seen many changes and now portrays elements of design from various periods throughout history. Probably its most striking feature is the exuberant Baroque facade that greets you as you climb the monumental staircase towards it. Inside the church you will also find many relics of times gone by, and some beautifully preserved frescoes that date back to the 14th century.
Another building of interest in Campione is the Church of Saint Zenone which is situated close to the lakeshore near the casino. This has seen a great transformation over the years and is now home to Campione's art gallery. Take a walk through here and you get to see some wonderful examples of art representing many periods of history. It is a unique place where ancient masterpieces sit alongside more contemporary pieces, but the whole concept works magnificently.
Although Campione is small it still has a good selection of bars and restaurants to choose from. Most are scattered throughout the town but there are a few up in the famous Campione Casino.
Restaurants in Campione offer exceptionally good food and some have moved away from offering the traditional Italian and Ticinese dishes of the area. So if you're tempted by the thoughts of delicious French and Mediterranean cuisine then you need look no further than restaurants in the old part of town.
The Casino in Campione is the largest in Europe and attracts visitors from all over the world for a sparkling evening of entertainment. The complex is also home to a large concert venue which attracts a variety of top international stars. Throughout the course of the year it also plays host to countless fashion shows and rock concerts, plus several highly esteemed cinematography and literature festivals.
Getting To Campione
Campione is easy to reach by boat, bus and car and although you have to cross the Swiss-Italian line to reach it there are no formal border controls. Campione is approximately 9km from Lugano by road, and 15 minutes across the lake by boat. A ferry service runs regularly from Lugano to Campione throughout the day.