Rachel Fieldhouse

International Travel

An Italian lodge jumps the Swiss border

An Italian lodge jumps the Swiss border

The borders in the European Alps have been the source of some strange happenings recently, including a border-jumping ski lodge.

Refugio Cervino, a two-storey lodge built on the Italian side of Theodul Glacier, has been slowly moving towards Switzerland - and its international movement has called its ownership and national boundaries into dispute.

The border between Italy and Switzerland has previously been defined at the boundary of the Theodul drainage divide, the point where melted water either flows south to Italy or north towards Switzerland.

However, rising temperatures have changed the flow of water.

As a result, two-thirds of the Refugio sits in Switzerland while the remaining third is in Italy, and has become a subject of diplomatic negotiations.

According to Agence France Presse, a compromise to redraw the boundaries was reached last year - but that doesn’t stop the ever-increasing glacier melt.

Swisstopo, which stays on top of the official boundaries of the Confédération Helvétique, will be changing the boundaries in 2023.

"We agreed to split the difference," chief border official Alain Wicht told AFP.

Though international surveyors have previously been brought in to determine where the boundary should sit previously, Mr Wicht says the Refugio is a sensitive issue as the Theodul Glacier is “the only place where we suddenly had a building involved”.

The Swiss have taken a more neutral stance in the debate, but the Italians are unwilling to part with the building without compensation, 

"The refuge remains Italian because we have always been Italian," Refugio’s caretaker, 51-year-old Lucio Trucco, says.

For now, the refuge will be an enclave of Italy within Switzerland until the borders are changed.

Image: Getty Images