Author Archives: Astik

CONSUMER GOODS

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Campione is not as “glitzy” as Monaco, but the cost of living is lower. Food, cars, appliances and manufactured goods tend to cost slightly less in Switzerland than in the rest of Europe. However, Switzerland has just introduced VAT at 7 per cent.
Livigno is one of the few communities within the European Union in Europe where there is no VAT.

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WHAT IS THERE TO DO IN CAMPIONE?

Campione is a small satellite community of about 3800 people. This drops to under 2000 in the winter months, even though winters in Campione are quite mild and usually without snow.
It is not as rural as Sark and certainly not a miniature Manhattan like Monaco. There are no highrise buildings. Around 75 per cent of the dwellings are condominium apartments inhabited by “foreigners resident in Campione”. Perhaps half of them are absent at any one time, usually travelling abroad.

ENTERTAINMENT, SIGHTS AND SCENERY
This enclave enjoys a steeply sloping waterfront location across the lake – a swimming lake, if you like it cold – from the exceptionally beautiful, historic city of Lugano, Switzerland. Because Campione is a very small geographic area, every home is within walking distance of the centre. This commercial area boasts busy passenger-boat docks, the famous casino, a post office and no more than a dozen small stores and restaurants. A passenger ferry, locally known as the Vaporetto has frequent departures for the pleasant 20 minute ride to Lugano with its many gourmet quality restaurants, hotels, luxury department stores, theatres, banks, brokerage firms, night clubs and bars.

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The world-class Thyssen-Romemisza art collection and gardens at Villa Favorita, near Lugano, has been one of the many local tourist attractions. However, the owner, angered by a steep Swiss tax increase, has decided to move the best items in his collection to the Prado museum in Madrid as of 1993. Just outside Campione is the Swiss Miniature Village, a favorite of children. In “Swiss Min”, all the famous buildings and landmarks of Switzerland are arranged into a tasteful little “town” that the kiddies can wander through. Houses are chest high for a four year old, knee high for adults. Located next to “Swiss Min” is Villa Romantica, one of many waterfront restaurants where music and dancing accompany a late dinner. For the older kids, there is no shortage of discos. The ancient and picturesque town square of Lugano has a charming old European atmosphere. During warm weather it is filled with outdoor cafes and always has a festive atmosphere. Literally hundreds of speciality shops, boutiques and delicatessens are open until after dark. There are several good ice-cream parlours and an abundance of bars. There are even a few night clubs and “live porno shows”, which surprised me. The fact that they were there, not the shows themselves! Switzerland does have such things. There is even a Thai massage parlour in Lugano.
A quaint local custom in coffee shops and bars is to supply free newspapers and magazines to customers. Thus you can have a mulled wine in winter or a cold beer in summer and always get a free local paper to read. With luck you may find the Wall Street Journal, Herald Tribune, Time, Newsweek, Financial Times, Economist, Playboy or just about any English language publication at our favourite, the Investor Bar, near the Lugano post office. If not free they will be available at local news kiosks on the day of issue. Radio and television has high quality programing in German, French, Italian and English, including two local TV stations including TeleCampione, two local radio stations and all Swiss and Italian stations nationwide, whether they be state, private, national or local. Video taped movies in all languages are available for rent. Cable or satellite now brings in everything, including a dozen English language stations.
Distances are very short in Europe. Since Switzerland is a small country criss-crossed by excellent freeways, it is possible to go by car to Montreux, Geneva, Turin or Zurich for some event and be back the same day. Instead of paying tolls, one buys an annual windshield sticker for Sfr 30. Austria is also close enough for a day trip. Paris, Munich, Prague, Budapest, Genoa, Monte Carlo and Venice are all within a four to ten hour drive.
For the tax haven seeker who also loves classical music, ballet, or avant-garde theater, Campione may have an edge over Monaco if only because of the nearby big-city facilities of Milan and Lugano. Because there are no industrial plants in the vicinity, Campione’s clean air, verdant foliage and sub-Alpine flora make for an exceedingly healthy and inspiring environment. Palm trees grow on the sandy beach of Campione, indicative of the unusual and unexpectedly mild climate. The water of Lake Lugano is crystal clear sky blue. Almost every day brings ideal breezes for sailing. A network of waterways seems to go on endlessly through Switzerland and Italy. The cost of keeping a yacht in Campione would be about one-fifth the cost of a similar boat in Monaco. But you can go on the water every day without owning a boat. The same ferry system already mentioned has Vaporetto connections to many other towns in Italy and Switzerland. These ferry boats provide a refreshing way of getting to nearby towns, reminiscent of those in Venice.
Going for a Vaporetto ride is ideal for making friends and enjoying the scenery. You can rent rowing boats, motor boats and sailing boats in the bigger lakeside towns.
Would you be comfortable in Campione? The only way to know is to stay there for a month or so. There are no first-class hotels in Campione per se, but there are many hotels and vacation apartments in the vicinity. One inexpensive gast haus with more gast than haus, the Bellevue, is right in town. In nearby Lugano, there is a much wider selection of rental units. You might want to try the Utoring Apartments (by the week) in Lugano or just outside Campione, at the entry arch. Except for weekends, there are plenty of parking places and good tables at local restaurants. The Tavema is the best, see the Resource List at the back of this book for more recommendations. Most people you’d be likely to come in contact with will speak English. I personally rate Campione very highly for quality of life, privacy, peace and quiet, communications, political stability and other factors important to me.

BUYING AND RENTING, THE REAL ESTATE GAME

The main physical feature of the town is the casino. This is the largest landmark building in Campione. Everyone for 500 miles around thinks only of the casino when they hear the name “Campione” mentioned. Only a select few know that Campione is considered a tax haven. Fewer still know that it has about 1500 tax-exiles living there. About 75 per cent of the population lives in low rise apartment buildings. For the moment, four storeys is the height limit – a sensible rule put in place by the old timers who don’t want Campione to become a mini-Manhattan as Monte Carlo has.

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Most single family homes have disappeared. The few that remain are now protected by the Office of Environmental Heritage. Campione does, however, offer many architecturally interesting tenements as well as significant old churches. They seem to be beyond the reach of real estate developers. Two cemeteries take up about ten per cent of the total land area.
As mentioned earlier, since we first published this report, some property prices in Campione have nearly doubled. Our readers who bought early, about 25 individuals in total, have made a killing, in our opinion, it is unlikely that prices will continue to rise at this rate, and the days Ы a “sure tiling” are probably over. It is more likely that the market is due for a period of consolidation before there is another period of double-digit appreciation. However, with patience and searching, there are still bargains to be found, particularly with distress property that is not “on the market” but must be sold quickly. It may take some work and digging to find property for sale or rent, but it is there. This process is elaborately explained in Think like a Tycoon, the complete How To Guide for purchasing property.

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Campione is a small place, and, as with all other small towns, if you go there for a 48 hour visit and only ask a few real estate brokers to show you stuff on the market, you will not find any real bargains or super-quality properties. In Campione, you must have patience and really ask local professionals and apartment building managers, as well as everyone in the bars and restaurants, about deals. If you need a head start, see the Resource List at the back of this report for possible leads and a ballpark idea for estate prices. Ursula Wehner and Mrs Witzel of Immobilaire Witzel have always been reported back favorably to us by readers. We hope that you, as a reader, will share your experiences in Campione and tell us whether you bought anything. This information is invaluable to us. Also, it probably need not be said, but we’ll say it, don’t suspend your own common sense. Every salesman is out to get you to buy his slowest moving product. You must ask to see everything and make your own comparisons. Don’t be afraid to make an offer below the asking price, especially with the current climate of a very slow market!
We should also mention that neither local Swiss banks or local Italian banks will lend on property in Campione. Thus, most deals are “all cash” but it may be possible to borrow from financial institutions in your home country.
The Imposta Com unale Immobiliare (ICI) a local Italian property tax based on notional value, has recently been introduced in Italy and therefore in Campione. The tax collector’s foot is already in the door. Fortunately, this tax is very low, around US $500 per year, depending on the property.

EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES

The main reason anyone moves himself or his business to a tax haven is to escape high taxation. Job or employment opportunities in any tax haven are normally limited to service occupations. This is true of Campione. There Is no reason to come here looking for a glamorous job, or any job. Employment opportunities are limited. It’s a very good place for wealthy retired people or those with a low profile business that could be run from home or an apartment.
In Monte Carlo or Gibraltar, it may be possible to get employment working for a bank or stockbroker in the vibrant financial services sectors. But in Campione, there is no financial services industry.

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Campione is a tax haven for individuals, not a recommended place for setting up or administering a company. The Italian government would probably tax any high profile holding company based in Campione when it found out about it. This said, corporate tax is lower in Campione than in all other areas of Italy and Switzerland for the reasons mentioned before. Also, conducting business via an offshore corporation and/or arranging your deductions in Italy may provide the necessary loophole to eliminate taxes.
There is only one tiny storefront bank in Campione: the Bank of Novara. The only smaller bank in the world is probably in Sark. Some retired Italian residents of Campione receive and deposit their pension checks at this bank. Although official local currency is the Italian lira, the Swiss franc is the currency in general use. Money exchanging, lending and other commercial activity is limited. Money can be exchanged easily on an informal basis. Under treaty with the Swiss, no new banks or deposit takers are allowed to be based in Campione. If there are any lawyers or accountants in Campione, they keep themselves well hidden. The specialist we
recommend at the end of this Report is from Lugano. Most professional services are performed across the border in Switzerland, or where appropriate, in Italy. But Campione does have one resident psychiatrist, plus several medical doctors and dentists. You’ll need them if you have anything to do with Italian officialdom! In Campione, as in every other tax haven, there are always many local people who serve the rich tax-exiles. The range of services run from grocery stores, beauty shops and restaurants to those looking after the particular needs of tax-haven residents. In Monaco there is no shortage of poodle grooming, Rolls-Royce servicing and investment counselling. Requirements are far more modest in Campione. Banking, legal services and the more exclusive professional services for well heeled Campionese tend to be in nearby Lugano. Campione is best described as a bedroom suburb of Lugano.

ENTERING SWITZERLAND WITHOUT VISA

A travel titbit of interest to all our readers, even those not thinking of actually moving to Campione, is that via this little known tax haven you can freely enter and leave Switzerland without a visa. Visitors to Campione from non-EC countries normally require a visa not only for Italy but also for Switzerland as one has to pass through Swiss Customs in order to reach Campione. If you do not have a visa or do not wish to obtain one, this requirement can be circumvented by taking a trip to Porto Ceresio, in Italy on the southern shore of Lake Lugano. From there, take the ferry to Campione. This trip does not require a visa as you “technically” never leave Italy. The service operates approximately every three to five hours.
Once inside Campione, you can easily enter Switzerland by boat, bus or taxi. The only problem may be that you may have to leave Switzerland via the same route. Swiss customs arc in operation at Lugano’s port, but usually no officers are present. The Swiss rarely, if ever, cheek anyone leaving the country. You can also move between Italy and Switzerland by train and get off the tram once across the border (Como and Chiasso respectively). Once inside the country of your destination, buy a ticket for the rest of your journey. Immigration officers won’t think that you just entered the country and therefore won’t ask to see your passport.

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You would do well to get a Swiss newspaper and to get on the train just before or after they do so they won’t see you get on the train. If you don’t speak French, German or Italian like a mother tongue speaker, play deaf.

See section Obtaining a Campione Residence Permit for more information.

If a Campione residence permit is desired, you can get one almost as a matter of course by personally applying to the police in nearby Como, Italy. (See section Obtaining a Campione Residence Permit for more information.) Non-EC citizens should get a “long duration” residence permit for Italy from the Italian consulate for where they are resident. With an official residence certificate one may then go to the Ufficio Cantonale della Circolazione, in Camonino near Lugano, and, on the spot, get a Swiss driving license, Swiss license plates and Swiss car registration. In Campione, one will automatically get a Swiss listed telephone number.

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The Campione telephone area code, by the way, is 41 (for Switzerland) followed by 91 (for Campione). Italian government equivalent services are theoretically available in Campione but no one in their right mind has anything to do with Italian government-run utilities if they can avoid it. Why? Here’s an example: Swiss mail services are the most efficient in the world. The Italian postal service has been known to take a month to deliver mail within the same town, in the unlikely event that there is no strike going on at the time. If there is a strike, you will wait until the Italian employees have called a truce. There is never an end to any Italian strike, only temporary truces. In Italy, government employees spend their time either striking or arguing with citizens, insisting that almost anything the customer wants is impossible. Or they argue with each other over soccer statistics while working people wait for service. Since they (Italian government employees) by law can’t ever be fired (unless they commit a crime) without a large severance allowance, their other activities, slowdowns, strikes and bickering, leave little time to perform essential services. The Italians are artistic, lovable anarchists, but don’t rely on them for the mail! Fortunately, in Campione, you don’t have to. For mail to Campione just use CH-6911. CH stands for Confederatio Helvetica or, if you prefer, Confederazione Elvetica in Italian. In case you didn’t know, that’s what the Swiss call Switzerland. For outgoing mail, use Swiss stamps and the post office located in downtown Campione. For incoming mail, use your Swiss postal code.
The Italian post code is 1-22060 CAMPIONE D’ITALIA (CO) in case you’re interested in the ( kudos of two addresses in two different countries for the price of one! Also, it may be helpful to send mail via Italy (with Italian stamps) if you want to delay a letter’s arrival, Use your Italian address for junk mail. It will often get lost. As an added bonus, if you acquire residency, you can take all your personal belongings into Campione (which is a Swiss customs zone) as messerizie, personal effects. Of course, who’s to know if you take along a few goodies to sell?
If you apply for residence or hold an Italian passport, you qualify for free health care. The tab is picked up by the Swiss. The local Italian health authority is Como’s USSL 80 (Unita Socio Sanitaria Locale). This service has a branch in the Corso, whose tiled exterior makes it look more like a swimming complex.
Just about the only negative factor is that Switzerland has now introduced VAT, called IVA/TVA/MWST but this is lower than the rate in Italy.

MONEY AND FINANCE

Prices, as well as games in the casino, are quoted in Swiss francs. Even the Italian electric company charges in Swiss francs at the post office.
There are no banks in Campione, although there are two currency exchange places. One is even open late. However, unlike mainland Italy, there are no exchange reporting requirements.
The Post Office offers banking facilities and is connected with other Post Offices in other countries for the purposes of funds transfer. Of course these facilities are under the direct scrutiny of the Italian authorities, but if only small amounts of money are moved, no-one really takes any notice.
Italy also has a bearer savings account, like the Austrian Sparbuch, which does not have a password to access funds. So anyone and their brother can legally access them. Used carefully they offer the ultimate in banking secrecy. They can even be used as payment since they are as good as cash. Your friendly Campione expert can help you open one. Ask Scope for details. The Post Office books cannot be confiscated by the Italian authorities except in investigations related to the mafia, drugs and gun running.

LANGUAGES SPOKEN IN CAMPIONE

Since Switzerland does not have its own language, aside from Romansch spoken only in canton of Schwyz, from which the confederation gets its name and which is dying out.
So…. You’ve Never Heard of Campione Before tri-lingual, mostly German in the north and center, French in and around Geneva and Italian in the Ticino or south. Germans are exceedingly comfortable in Campione.

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We have discovered that all the Germans in Campione speak near-perfect English so do most of the Italian-German speaking Swiss in Lugano.
Americans and British have no trouble with language, foods and customs. The new Sky Channel and other satellite broadcasts are now making dozens of English/American television channels available in Campione. However, when dealing with authorities in Italy, either in writing, by phone or in person, Italian is the only language allowed, except in Trentino Alto Adige where German is also an official language and Valle d’Aosta where French is.

ETHNIC COMMUNITIES IN CAMPIONE

Rich Germans discovered Campione after World War П. The German expatriate community is one of the largest local ethnic groups, coming after the Italians and followed by the Swiss. There are not more than a dozen American or British families. One extremely wealthy Arab prince owns and usually occupies Villa Nada, a small palace on top of the hill. If you visit Campione, you can’t miss seeing this imposing structure.

HISTORY OF CAMPIONE

Campione is a unique enclave. For those who are curious, 400 years ago Campione (ancient name Campilionum) became a church-estate owned by the Bishop of the St Ambrose Diocese in Milan. Before that, Campione was a private feudal farm, left to the Roman Catholic Church by the will of a certain Totone di Campione.

italy-map-pm When the Confederation of Switzerland came into being, to avoid antagonizing the then-powerful Popes of the Catholic Church, tiny Campione was recognized as a part of the Vatican state. Many years later, when the Papal (Church) States were taken over by the civil government of Italy, Campione became Italian, but no one in Italy paid much attention to it. Until World War П, Campione was just a rocky square mile of lakeside slopes with some luxury summer homes and sleepy vineyards tended by a few monks.
Its only claim to fame up until about 1940 was that the local monks trained young boys from the area to become expert masons and stone-cutters. Thus, many of the finest Catholic Churches in Europe, and even in America and Aigentina, were built or supervised by Campionese master builders. Did you see them in the 1988 hit movie Good Morning Babylon? Of course, no one ever paid any attention to the Campionese stone masons who starred in the film except the Campionese who are very proud of their “gift to the world of architecture”. A
The Report few exceptionally nice churches were built in Campione by master masons who then left to seek their fortunes elsewhere. Most of these master builders moved to other cities, some sent back money. Because there was no local economy, for many generations Campione was an exporter only of population and granite.
Until 1940, very little of economic significance ever happened in Campione. It would still be a sleepy little vineyard had Mussolini not given local entrepreneurs the right to start a municipally owned casino (one of four in all of Italy, the others being at St Vincent, Venice and San Remo). To this day the Italian government gets a cut of casino profits. The balance of casino earnings is spent by municipal officials on local civic betterment.
With a pre-war population of a few hundred that has now grown to 3800, Campione still isn’t Manhattan, or even Monaco (which crowds 35,000 in a similar space). But at least on summer weekends when day tripping gamblers from Italy arrive by the busload, central Campione does get lively and noisy. Tourists can’t stay overnight because there are no hotels which can be so called inside Campione, although there are outside it. Fortunately for the locals, day-tourists don’t usually venture uphill into residential areas. They park on the main street or in the parking lots near the centre and go straight to the casino. If the casino sounds like a negative for Campione, it is, except for one thing, THE MONEY!