Enclaves & Exclaves of Italy: Campione d’Italia & San Marino


When you hear the word “enclave” in connection to Italy, you probably think of Vatican City. An enclave is basically a country or designated piece of land within a country, and Vatican City is probably the most famous one in the world.

An exclave, on the other hand, is part of a nation that exists completely unattached to that nation. Italy happens to have a few enclaves and exclaves, and in this article I want to write a little bit about visiting one of each: the exclave of Campione d’Italia (pictured above), and the enclave of San Marino.

This article is a guest post written by Diane Benedict.

Campione d’Italia- exclave

Campione d’Italia is an exclave that’s technically within the territory of Switzerland. It’s situated right on Lake Lugano, which separates it from the nearest Italian border, and belongs to the Province of Como in Lombardy. It’s a tiny but fascinating place, infused now with some degree of Swiss culture but also known for a few local attractions that are neither distinctly Italian, nor Swiss.

The most popular attraction there is Casino di Campione, simply because it towers over most of the town. In most of Europe, real money casinos have been around for nearly two decades online, and one might imagine that that makes places like this one difficult to come by. But Casino di Campione has been resilient, and is now the biggest brick-and-mortar casino on the continent. It’s beautiful placement within the Campione landscape is as alluring as the games they offer, and this combination makes it the main attraction in the exclave.

However, it’s not the only attraction. If you’re interested in Italian travel, there’s a chance you would enjoy some of the old churches around the country. And if you’re interested in church sightseeing, you should prioritize Campione d’Italia. Santuario di San Maria dei Ghirli and Oratorio di San Pietro are both wonderful churches, a little smaller and more intimate than many that you’ll find in larger cities in Italy.

There are also a few more places to check out if you’re looking for things to do during the day, aside from strolling along picturesque landscapes or trying to rent a boat to get out on Lake Lugano. Galleria Civica is a lovely art exhibit, and Da Candida is as good a place as you’ll find in the region for a bite to eat. It made the Michelin guide for 2017, recognized as a traditional trattoria infused with French influence.


The enclave of San Marino

San Marino- enclave

San Marino is an enclave, and one of the most famous in the world behind Vatican City. It’s located in the upper portion of the Italian peninsula, on the northeastern side of the Apennine Mountains, and it’s sometimes confused with its own capital, the city of San Marino. Though it is a sovereign nation in its own right, it’s essentially an interesting little corner of Italy. San Marino is best known, at least to the tourism community, for its multiple incredible fortresses as shown in the picture above. The fortresses are called Guaita, Cesta, and Montale, and they all essentially tower over San Marino, with great views below and to the Apennine Mountains surrounding them. Planet ware ranks them as the top attractions in San Marino. The idea of visiting ancient structures like these in that kind of atmosphere is certainly one you wouldn’t want to miss.

There are also many interesting museums in San Marino that are must-sees for tourists who want to get a feel for the enclave. The National Museum for example is full of unique and interesting antiques; in the Wax Museum you’ll spot replicas of everyone from Mussolini to Jackie Kennedy; the Ferrari Museum contains old, beautiful models of some of the best cars in the world; and the Museum Of Curiosities is full of so many weird artifacts it’s tough to know where to begin. It’s actually one of the best places in Italy for a day or two’s worth of museum touring.

Finally, check out Bar Giulietti, a charming little cocktail bar overlooking much of San Marino. If you’re looking for a place to relax at the end of the night after a day of looking at San Marino’s sights, Bar Giulietti is the perfect place to go.

So, which would you choose for a vacation? The enclave of San Marino or exclave of Campione d’Italia? The cool thing is that although they are both small towns to visit, they each have their own respective attractions to offer visitors year round.

All my love,

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