Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

October 2010: Seborga

The small village of Seborga consists of a cluster of buildings clinging to the top of a rocky outcrop in the alpine foothills of coastal north-west Italy, just across the border from the Côte d'Azur. With a bit of meteorological cooperation, magnificent views are available to Monaco, the Antibes peninsula and - on a very clear day - as far as St Tropez. The village's main claim to fame, however, is its assertion of independence from Italy, which while arguably of dubious validity, is nevertheless a masterstroke in the promotion of tourism.

Seborga was indisputably an independent principality from 954 to 1729, when it was sold to the kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia. Some 230 years later, in the early 1960s, respected local Giorgio Carbone argued that Seborga retained its independence, on the basis that it had not been explicitly mentioned in any of the formal agreements that led to Italian unification in the 19th century. Following endorsement in an informal referendum, he assumed the title of Prince Giorgio I and became affectionately known among locals as 'His Tremendousness'. Today, the village has a successor to Giorgio, a flag, an anthem, a coat of arms, a Latin motto (Sub umbra sede: sit in the shade), souvenir stamps and currency, and an army of one. Meanwhile, its citizens dutifully pay their taxes to the Italian state and receive public services on exactly the same basis as the rest of Italy.

Now, introduce into this somewhat comic opera-like setting a group of seven UK-based frequent flyers, and what do you get? The answer is: a weekend break like no other! Although the accent was firmly on having fun and spending hours at a time in some amazing local restaurants (both within and outside of 'the principality'), I did manage to spare some time to take a few photos.

Base: local B&B