Village in Italy sends letter asking to join Switzerland
It is quite rare in history for a region to demand it be annexed by a neighbouring country. However, that is exactly what an Italian community in the mountains has asked for, after it called on the government to make their village part of Switzerland.
Monteviasco wants to join Canton Ticino in Switzerland
Two kilometres from the Italian border with Canton Ticino sits the village of Monteviasco. Situated 1.650 metres above sea level near the banks of Lake Maggiore, the small village is heavily isolated as it has no roads connecting it with the outside world.
According to 20 minuten, the residents of this small Italian community have sent a letter demanding that the town be taken over by Switzerland. According to RSI, the letter has re-sparked the debate over whether the valleys on the eastern side of Lake Maggiore should actually be controlled by Switzerland.
Locals accuse Italian officials of delay and inefficiency over cable car
In the letter, the locals said they were angry over the lack of progress made by Italian officials in restoring their local cable car. A cable car had been running between the town and valley floor until 2018 when a fatal accident forced its closure. Today, Monteviasco is only accessible by foot or by mule.
Despite promises to reopen the cable car, locals have accused the Italian authorities of delay and inefficiency, claiming that most officials are still arguing about how much the repairs will cost and when the cable car should be restarted.
The letter said that instead of arguing about costs, authorities should be "putting a means of transport back into operation on which our lives depend." Therefore, "If pulling the border line further down would serve to avoid having to bear Italian bureaucratic shackles, then Switzerland is welcome," the statement concluded.
Requests to join Switzerland are not new
The idea of border communities "switching sides" and joining Switzerland is not new. In a referendum in 1918, 96 percent of residents in the town Büsingen am Hochrhein, Baden-Württemberg voted to join Switzerland, and 81 percent of residents in Voralberg in Austria voted to join in 1919, although neither ended up happening. The last time Switzerland successfully expanded its borders was when the border with France was redrawn slightly in 2002.
More recently, a survey held in 2010 found that 74 percent of the residents of Como wanted the town to join Switzerland, and an online poll held in the same year by German newspaper Südkurier found that 70 percent of residents in Baden-Württemberg wanted to leave Germany and join Switzerland, noting "yes, the Swiss are closer to us in outlook [than other German federal states]."