hidden europe 28

The Principality of Seborga

by Nicky Gardner

Picture above: The sign marking the entrance to the Principality of Seborga (photo © hidden europe).


A mountain community in Liguria has exploited a little legal loophole in European history to assert its independence. Welcome to the Principality of Seborga.

The road from the coast zigzags up through terraces crowded with glasshouses. Sometimes there is a glimpse of villages up in the hills above and then a view back down to the Mediterranean below. High, high into the hills climbs the lane and then we reach the border. There are none of the normal hints that we might be approaching an international frontier. No signs announcing the last place to fill up with fuel before entering a foreign land.

This is not to say that Seborga does not take its borders seriously. An unnecessarily fussy sign proclaims a multilingual welcome, asserting in four languages that the traveller is entering the Principato di Seborga. There are flags aplenty, a heraldic crest painted on the tarmac and even a sentry post on the side of the road. There is no official welcoming committee at the frontier, nor even a solitary border guard. So we drive on, and within a few minutes have climbed up to the village that gives the principality its name.

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