If you haven’t heard in the news, Italy is going through some major financial difficulties so the country’s government decided it could save money by combining towns and cities with fewer than a 1,000 residents (so much for local control). Unsurprisingly, the town folk didn’t take too kindly to the suggestion and a bit of a backlash has erupted. While mayors from many affected towns have agreed to the change, others are protesting and fighting to protect the ancient regional differences that shape various cities when it comes to keeping intact local traditions, dialects and diversity. The mayor of one town in particular has thought of a more novel approach to keep his town safe from unfavorable annexations: making himself a monarch by establishing the town of Filettino as an independent state. Mayor Luca Sellari jokingly noted that “it’s everyone’s dream to become a prince,” and that the move is no laughing matter “if that’s what it takes to keep the town autonomous and protect its natural resources.” The New York Times reports:
“The would-be principality already has a coat of arms that now graces everything from T-shirts (‘going like hotcakes,’ Mr. Sellari said) to a liqueur, the Amaro of the Principality, which a local bartender, Maria Cerrocchi, said was just a brand-name bottle ‘with a photocopied label stuck on it.’ Filettino has even printed its own currency, the fiorito, which means ‘flowered’ (‘like the town will flower in its new guise,’ the mayor explained) and which harks back to the florin, the money first coined in 13th-century Florence.”
The part-time councilor plans to write the monarch’s new national anthem. The monarchy idea is sure to bring even greater attention to the anger that many small-town mayors feel in response to the course the national government is charting. Small towns had their budgets slashed and local officials feel it would be far wiser to address the bigger issues, such as retirement age. While the idea of merging small towns may be ultimately withdrawn, Filettino’s mayor has said he will still pursue secession and his monarchial plans.