SARONNO, Italy – High in the hills above the Italian Riviera of the Flowers sits the small principality of Serborga. It is a self proclaimed principality and up until 2009, the 364 people who live in Serborga were ruled by Prince Giorgio, a bewhiskered grower of mimosa flowers.
|Welcome to Serborga|
How Giorgio Carbone, also known as His Tremendousness, came to see himself as royalty is a bit fuzzy but the documents he produced from the Vatican archives did show that the village was once a sovereign state and not part of the Kingdom of Italy. And since there were no other documents to prove anything to the contrary, His Tremendousness staked his claim.
According to the documents Prince Giorgio found, the story of the Principality of Serborga dates back to the year 954 when the local counts gave the village to a group of Benedictine monks who promptly built a monastery there. Then, in 1079, Pope Gregory VII and the Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV elevated the village to the rank of an imperial principality of the Holy Roman Empire.
That was proof enough for His Tremendousness. After declaring Serborga a principality Prince Giorgio established a palace, wrote a Constitution and set up a cabinet and a parliament. His grand plan involved eventually having a cabinet of 15 ministers, and a dozen members of parliament.
|Winding Cobblestone Streets|
He chose a coat of arms, minted money, (the Luigino with his picture on it), issued stamps (with his picture on them) and license plates. He also chose a national anthem and mobilized a standing army of one, Lt. Antonello Lacala.
Seborga also has its own flag, a white cross on a blue background, a patron saint, St. Bernard and a Latin motto: Sub Umbra Sede - Sit in the Shade.
|Colorful Buildings of Serborga|
Prince Giorgio discovered that the sovereign of Serborga had always been elected by the people so he decided to return to that tradition and hold an election. The villagers were so enchanted by Carbone’s quirkiness that he was elected Prince in 1963.
He gracefully accepted the informal title of His Tremendousness and took to the throne with style. While holding court at the Bianca Azzura bar in the center of town, he would wear a red, green and white sash, carry a large sword and wear a uniform decorated with many rosette medallions. In 1995 he was elected Prince for Life in 1995 with a vote of 304 to 4.
His dedication to his subjects was so complete that he never married, telling People Magazine in a 1993 interview that he loved all of his female subjects equally and would never be able to choose one over another.
|In the Hills Above the Italian Riviera|
In his role as His Highness Giorgio I, Prince of Seborga, Carbone didn’t earn a salary. It was never clear if one was ever offered but as Prince he could help himself to all the ham and cheese he wanted from the village store without paying, which he did every day.
Even though the Italian government never took him seriously, Carbone managed to convince about 20 states to recognize Serborga as an independent entity. The first to step up was Burkina Faso. He also established Consular representation in 10 other countries.
After a 46 year reign, His Tremendousness died in 2009 at the age of 73. He left no heirs and Seborga’s royal destiny is still uncertain. Hopefully the story won't end there.
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