Swiss Maritime Canton?
CAROUGE Landlocked Switzerland might be interested in a 16 February regional election in Sardinia, which included a quasi-serious initiative demanding that Italy sell the Mediterranean island to Switzerland as its 27th canton. A group of Sardinians formed the Canton Marittimo, calling on Rome to allow their ruggedly beautiful island, with a population of just over 1.6 million, to be annexed to a country seen by them as a better “example of autonomy and democracy”.
The Facebook page for Canton Marittimo (facebook.com/cantonmarittimo) has so far registered more than 4,000 fans and attracted media interest from Japan to the UK. When the group’s leaders have names like Andrea Caruso and Enrico Napoleone, who could resist? With tongues firmly in cheek, some have suggested that landlocked Switzerland might be interested in a sea outlet for its Navy, which currently patrols the borders formed by Lakes Constance, Geneva and Maggiore.
So far the proposal has been met with bemusement in Switzerland, although in an online poll asking Swiss-Germans if they would accept a Sardinian canton, 93% said “yes”. Closer to home, historical reasons exist for taking the proposal seriously. Ties between Geneva and Sardinia go back to the founding of Carouge in 1786, when Victor-Amadeus III, the King of Sardinia and Duke of Savoy, built the town at the gates of Geneva after the embarrassing loss of the city in the 1602 Escalade. Today’s visitors marvel at the unusual architecture, charming boutiques and cafés of Carouge, so unlike Geneva, on the other side of the River Arve, prompting one recent visitor to the weekly Saturday market to wonder. “Are we now in Italy?”