Sunday November 10, 2019 08:40

"La Sua Tremendita" - Dynastic Struggle overlooking the Italian Riviera

 All politics is local and never more so than when the polis just about fits in a cargo container. Here's the story, abstracted from Nick Squires report in The Telegraph (

Seborga (population 315) is a tiny village 20 kilometers west of San Remo and 40 east of Monaco, overlooking the Italian Riviera. The major industries are horticulture -- shades of Jean de Florette -- and, surprise, surprise, tourism. The village is distinguished by the local talent for self-promotion.

In the '60s, the head of the flower growers association, Giorgio Carbone, led a movement to regain Seborga's independence. His theory was based on a convoluted chain of title that begins with the Counts of Ventimiglia who sold the village to the Benedictine Monks of Santo Onorato of Lerins in 954 A.D. In due course, the Benedictine abbot was made a prince of the Holy Roman Empire with temporal powers. In 1729, the Benedictines sold Seborga to the Kingdom of Piedmont-Savoy, but the deed was never properly registered and the price, allegedly, was not paid. After the to-and-fro of the Napoleonic Wars, the Congress of Vienna redrew the map of Europe but overlooked Seborga and nor was the village mentioned by the Italian Act of Unification in 1861.

So Carbone, acting on his own initiative, assumed the title "Prince Giorgio I of Seborga" in 1963. Villagers called him Sua Tremendita, which perhaps translates as "Big Shot," and may have rolled eyes as they did so. But before long they fell into the spirit of the thing. In 1995, they adopted a constitution and approved a referendum seeking independence from Italy. Prince Carbone reigned until his death in 2009. Elections for a new prince were held the following year and won by Marcello Menegatto (the vote was 89-67 with 71% turnout). Prince Marcello was re-elected in 2017 but, sadly, has resigned for personal reasons pending the election of his successor.

Now, two women are vying for the throne: Nina Dobler Menegatto, 41, the ex-wife of Prince Marcello, and Laura Di Bisceglie, 45, the daughter of Prince Giorgio. Ms. Menegatto, a property developer who splits time between Seborga and Monaco, wants to go big by establishing a mint and currency, forging better relations with countries around the world and pushing for independence from Italy. Her first step will be to seek observer status at the UN. As she says, "More than 200 people voted in the election and they can't all be crazy." Ms. Di Bisceglie also wants to push the independence issue and will cherish tradition by establishing a museum in her father's old house. She complains that Seborga went downhill under the reign of Prince Marcello, who was always off in Dubai and such places and implies that Nina would be no better.

Meanwhile, locals complain that Seborga is being overrun by outside crackpots and nutters, many of whom have schemes to exploit the notoriously unsettled situation by developing restaurants and other local businesses while asserting their own claims to sovereignty. There are at least five groups claiming title through the Knights Templar. There is, however, no indication that the Vatican wishes to pursue a claim on behalf of the Benedictines.

UPDATE: The election was held Sunday, 10 November, and ballots have been counted. 247 votes were cast (78% turnout). Menegatto won with 122 votes, Di Bisceglie came second with 69, and the remaining 56 were scattered among fringe players. La Sua Tremendità, Princess Menegatto, has assumed her duties. Look out world.

Read 1373 times Last modified on Monday March 09, 2020 20:34

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