Campione d'Italia was founded by the Romans in the 1st century BCE as Campilonum. Later on in the late 18th century, when Ticino chose to join Switzerland, Campione chose instead to remain in Lombardy - leading to the existence of the exclave. In the 1930s, the "d'Italia" was added to the end of the town's name by Benito Mussolini, along with building an ornate gate at its entrance, to assert its Italian-ness.
Nowadays, even though the town is Italian, it has considerable integration with Switzerland: the Swiss franc (Fr.) is legal tender, the town uses the Swiss phone and mail systems, and firefighters and ambulances are also Swiss. On January 1, 2020, Campione switched from the Swiss to the Italian customs territory and thus into the European customs union. While both countries belong to the Schengen zone, there may be customs controls.
From further afield, you may want to get into Lugano, or Milan, before heading into Campione, and then travel into the exclave with public transport, as both these cities have their own airports (LUG IATA and MXP IATA). From Lugano, see below for how to get there by bus or boat; and from Milan, you can get trains run by the SBB (Schweizerische Bundesbahnen) between Milan and nearby Melide, from where you can get the 439 bus into Campione.
Bus route NFB 439 (operated by Arcobaleno, tickets from Swiss Federal Railways) runs from nearby Lugano to its terminus at the casino in Campione, the whole journey taking about 20 minutes. One ticket for this journey costs around Fr. 3.
The A2 road runs from Basel in the north, down to Chiasso in the south of Switzerland, passing near Campione. This is part of the E35 European road, running from Amsterdam to Rome. To get into Campione, use exit 51 near Melide, then follow signs for Campione.
The nearby Swiss town of Melide has a train station, with trains run by TILO (the train company for Ticino and Lombardy) going in the directions of Bellinzona and Chiasso. From Melide, Campione is only a 10-minute bus ride, or around a 50-minute walk.
The Società Navigazione del Lago di Lugano runs boats and boat tours around Lake Lugano, and often stops at Campione d'Italia (and nearby Melide, which is a five minute bus journey away with the 439 bus). A boat journey takes about 20 minutes from Lugano to Campione.
Campione is only about 2 km long, and 1 km wide, so walking is probably the best way to get around, especially as the majority of the town is built along the shore. However, the slopes of the mountainside that Campione is on raises to about 600 m above sea level at its highest point — although there is little to see apart from trees and mountains at the top of the exclave.
The exclave is on the edge of Lake Lugano, so seeing the lake is a large attraction of the town. Across the lake, the mountains of San Salvatore and Monte Brè can be seen to the west and north respectively.
As well as the lake, within Campione, there are a few places which are worth seeing.
- 1 L’oratorio di san Pietro (The Oratory of Saint Peter), Piazza Roma, 4. An ancient chapel in the middle of Campione at the former location of the town gates.
- 2 Galleria Civica (Civic Gallery). The town's former church (dedicated to Saint Zeno and built around the 8th century), turned into a gallery and exhibition space once the newer church was built in the 1960s. Now, visitors can see the old architecture, and learn more about the history of the exclave.
- 3 La chiesa Parrocchiale (Parish church). The town's current church, built in 1967, and featuring some impressive modern religious art and stained glass windows.
- 4 Chiesa di Santa Maria dei Ghirli. A church dating from at least the 9th century at the top of an impressive double staircase. The church also features old frescoes of religious events and people, which are definitely worth a look.
- 5 Arco d'Ingresso (Entrance Arch). The grand entrance archway to the exclave, which was designed by Italian architect Giovanni Muzio, who also led the construction of the current Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, Israel.
- 1 [formerly dead link] Casinò di Campione, Piazzale Milano 2, ☏ , email@example.com. Billing itself as the "largest casino in Europe", founded in 1917, the casino is the largest employer in the exclave. Gambling, poker tournaments, restaurants, and business conference rooms are available in the 9-storey building. It was designed by Swiss architect Mario Botta, who also designed the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art (Charlotte, North Carolina), and the Central Library in Dortmund, among others.
- 2 Sailing on Lake Lugano, Viale Marco da Campione 42A, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. The Yacht Club Campione rents out sailing and motor boats to use on the Lake without a licence. The company also offers sailing courses, and the chance to gain a nautical licence.
- 3 Boat tour on Lake Lugano, ☏ , email@example.com. If you want to see more of the Lake, taking a boat tour around it is a good way of exploring. The Società Navigazione del Lago di Lugano offers boat tours, most of which start at nearby Lugano, with many stopping at Campione. Their website has more details on exact tours and timetables, but with these tours, you could visit nearby Lugano, Monte San Giorgio, and Capolago.
- 4 Lido Comunale Di Campione D'Italia, Via Matteo da Campione, ☏ . Outdoor swimming area on the beach, with friendly staff and beautiful views over Lake Lugano. This place also serves food and drink. Around Fr. 5-7 to enter.
Despite being an Italian exclave, the sole legal tender in Campione is Swiss francs - the currency of Switzerland. It would be recommended to travel here with euros too, however, as they are also accepted in the exclave.
- 1 Da Candida, Viale Marco, 4, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. A Michelin star restaurant (the only one in the exclave), with fancy, homely decor. Main meals from around Fr. 25.
- 2 Grotto Rialdo, Corso Italia, ☏ . A restaurant with good service and good food, and an outside terrace for eating outside when the weather's good.
- 3 Sushi Gao, Piazzale Milano, 7, ☏ . Local sushi restaurant with an all-you-can-eat offer.
- 4 La Barchetta, Via Bonino da Campione 5, ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. Traditional local restaurant, with a large wine selection.
- 1 Café de Paris, Piazza Roma 1b, ☏ . A cosy establishment not far from the exclave's port.
- 2 Bar Campione, Piazza Roma 2a, ☏ . M-Th 08:00-16:00; F-Su 09:00-17:00. Popular local bar open until late all week.
With Campione being quite a small destination, there are few hotels within the exclave, but there are holiday lets, and there are some hotels just on the other side of the border. You will get a wider choice of accommodation if you stay in Lugano or Paradiso.
- 1 Grand Hotel Campione, Via Matteo da Campione 2, ☏ . A modern hotel, with a spa and restaurant. It has comfortable rooms, some with views over the Lake. Around Fr. 250 per night.
Just outside Campione
- 2 [dead link] Hotel Campione, Via Campione 62, 6816 Bissone, CH, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Comfy hotel with clean rooms and its own pool. Does have a lakeview, even though it is slightly set back from the coast. Around Fr. 150 per night.
- 3 Hotel Panorama, Via al Lago 6, Pugerna, CH, ☏ , email@example.com. A cosy, cheerful hotel with a restaurant, pool, and lake-views from its position just up the mountain. Around Fr. 75 per person per night.
Telephone services in Campione are provided by Swisscom, the Swiss telephone operator - so use the +41 Swiss dialling code (although some places use the +39 Italian one).
Post can use both the Swiss postal code (CH-6911) and the Italian code (I-22060).
- Lugano - Swiss town on the other side of the eponymous lake
- Como - Italian town to the east, on the edge of another picturesque lake
- Locarno - Swiss town on the edge of Lake Maggiore
- Varese - Italian town near to, guess what, another Lake
- Milan - famous Italian city, perfect for travellers who want to get away from the lakes in this region of the Alps
|Routes through Campione d'Italia|
|Basel ← Lucerne ←||N S||→ Milan → Rome|