Campione d'Italia is a town of about 2300 inhabitants set on the southeastern shore of Lake Lugano on a narrow strip of Italian land surrounded by Switzerland that boasts remarkable historical and artistic traditions.
The municipality's coat-of-arms, a tripartite shield, summarizes the spirit and the history of this Medieval town. The coat-of-arms bears a shepherd's staff an Episcopal symbol of the civic and religious powers exercised for centuries by the Milanese Abbots of St. Ambrose, a whip, a reference to St. Ambrose's victory against the Arian heretics, and a plain reminder of the
migratory vocation of the people of Campione, represented by a snail.
Symbolically, this animal who always carries his
house on his bach is identified with those who are required to work in foreign lands, bringing with him only a few tools
and know how as well as, perhaps, some personal belongings.
Some people maintain that the Campione Masters, like snails, always left evidence of their passage in the form of monuments and works of art. The surface area of the entire municipality is about 2.5 square kilometres, although only one square kilometre of this is composed of land - the rest of the territory is represented by the waters of the Ceresio (lake Lugano).
Despite its modest geographic size, this enclaves, which hosts some of the most spectacular landscapes of the Comasco and the south Ticino regions, has actively contributed toward the monumental development of many cities in North Italy through the work of the Campione Masters. At present, it is an important cosmopolitan center and the destination of high-end international tourism due, in part, to the existence of a Casino, one of very few in Italy and in all of northern Europe.Campione is also the site of a number important national festivals, both for cinematography and literature.
Its close proximity to Lugano, the cosmopolitan city where Mediterranean culture meets French and German traditions in the form of Switzerland ,guarantees the political singularity of this territory that is separated from the State to which it belongs.
The portion of the town that faces onto the lake as well as the internal organization of streets and the town's urban fabric highlight the acute attention to detail and the subtle and discrete recollection of history and tradition.
This notion is exemplified by the Civic Gallery that the local authorities wished to preserve as tangible evidence
Of the history of Campione and the docks set along the shore of the lake with modern and essential forms that recall flight and, in general, the act of departure. The latter is characterized by complementary furnishings influenced by the building styles of the Campione Master and paved streets, a portion of which reflects Lombard style cobble stone pavement (sizzara).
Cobble stones were always available in the nearby alluvial zones and the terrain near waterways where it was possible to obtain perfectly rounded stones formed when forcefully undulating waters rolled them along the bottom of rivers and lakes.