Micronations of Italy: A New Art


The Free Republic of Alcatraz (Umbria) and the Duchy of Bardo (Piedmont), two peaceful havens for artists in search of exploration. The opportunity to share a most captivating interview with His Grace Duke Piercarlo Bormida de Bardo.

President Jacopo Fo of the Free Republic of Alcatraz and his unlikely university.

Declared following a protest movement against the Italian government, the Free Republic of Alcatraz claims to be a republic of poetry, based on the word of honor and mutual respect. As one of the greenest micronation worldwide, it is also a Republic that has reduced its energy consumption and waste disposal by 90%. It produces more energy than it consumes and sells this surplus to the main Italian electricity company.


A concept of its own


The micronation now counts 193 inhabitants on its territory located near Gubbio, in the heart of Italy. It was born from an idea of ​​Jacopo Fo, son of Darius Fo, a famous Italian playwright and director who received a Nobel Prize for Literature. Today it is a real ecovillage filled with works of art of all kinds, which offers strange courses in summer, such as ass therapy, crazy yoga or the ethological taming of the horse. These courses have made it an artistic and offbeat summer seminar venue that continues to attract people from all over Europe.


His Grace the Sovereign Duke Piercarlo Bormida de Bardo

This concept of micronation in the service of art seems to be reinforced in the country of the Comedia dell'arte, with the appearance of bardo no later than a little over a year ago. It is a very active Duchy on social networks and with a communication that is as dynamic as it is aesthetic. This did not escape our curiosity and we hastened to interview Piercarlo Bormida, founder and Sovereign Duke of Bardo. The intentionally micronational new duchy that also promotes artistic expression.


The Duchy of Bardo is described as an "intentional" micronation. What does Your Grace mean by that ?


" In a reality where human beings are often driven like willless robots and driven by commercial impulses aimed at creating a world of involuntary consumers, we of Bardo (born as a micronation primarily driven by artistically and holistically conscious people) we return to an existential definition which implies the active and conscious participation of the will. In this sense, it is an intentional micronation, strongly rooted in respect for nature and in the creative (and generative) power of the inhabitants of planet Earth. Being animated with the best intentions in the world is not just a slogan. "

" We bought a property immersed in the woods and radically changed our way of life with ever greater attention to ecology and respect for the planet."

Why did you create this micronation and who were you inspired by?


" The idea of ​​becoming a micronation was born from a community journey that began in 2013 with the cultural association of the same name. I must make a brief introduction to clarify the reason for certain choices made in this direction: about fifteen years ago, I decided with my partner to leave the city and to approach a way of life closer to the rhythms of nature. We bought a property immersed in the woods and radically changed our way of life with ever greater attention to ecology and respect for the planet, all united by a strong artistic sense. We see art as a response to degradation: we are both artists, we could not fail to convey this sensitivity in our project.


So we started organizing events and workshops with speakers from different disciplines and nationalities, giving life to a community of people who identify with what we do. The transition from the community to the micronation was made on February 20, 2020 on the date of my 50th birthday: I gave myself a nice gift, expected but highly motivated!


I have a certain passion for numerology and holistic and esoteric disciplines as well as for heraldry. I had no outside inspiration to tell the truth, although I was aware of the micronations that I respect and admire such as the Grand Duchy of Flandrensis with which we made a pact of mutual recognition, then there also has Sealand and Christiania which I visited in the 90s."


Duke's Palace in Bardo during winter

Have you been in contact with other Italian micronations before starting yours? What suggestion, support or message did you receive from them?


" I have always been fascinated by the history of the republic of the island of the Rose and that of Tavolara, but also by the principality of Seborga which is not far away. I even visited it years ago and was very impressed. The Duchy of Bardo extends over approximately 20,000 square meters in the forest of Torre Mondovì which is located in southern Piedmont in Northern Italy. We have no direct contact with the other Italian micronations, however I still received an encouraging message from Jacopo Fo, the President of the Free Republic of Alcatraz when I informed him of our birth. There will certainly be opportunities to collaborate with others in the future."


Locally, what kind of reaction have you had from other people?


" Locally, we were immediately welcomed with a benevolent curiosity: people ask us a lot of questions, let us specify here that we have a government building where our banner waves and a plaque at the entrance that leaves no doubt! They usually end up joining the micronation. After the recent flood that hit our property, we immediately received a quick response from volunteer citizens around the world: it's a testament to the loyalty of our new citizens. The fact that we became known as a cultural association in the early years gave us the opportunity to be appreciated for the continuity of cultural and environmental initiatives and therefore to be respected. I believe this was an important choice to make before reaching our official proclamation. "


Locally, what kind of reaction have you had from other people?


" Locally, we were immediately welcomed with a benevolent curiosity: people ask us a lot of questions, let us specify here that we have a government building where our banner waves and a plaque at the entrance that leaves no doubt! They usually end up joining the micronation. After the recent flood that hit our property, we immediately received a quick response from volunteer citizens around the world: it's a testament to the loyalty of our new citizens. The fact that we became known as a cultural association in the early years gave us the opportunity to be appreciated for the continuity of cultural and environmental initiatives and therefore to be respected. I believe this was an important choice to make before reaching our official proclamation. "


" An artistic residence where the time of half a day, the guests have the opportunity to live their own artistic projects".

" Another aspect is that we are increasingly contacted by associations and official entities that work for the protection of the environment or in the social field. The "Enlèvement" project is particularly successful in the region because it brings people to discover our small rural reality: it consists of an artistic residence where the time of half a day, the guests have the opportunity to live their own artistic projects while devoting time to the maintenance of our territory and taking care of the gardens and animals of Bardo. We have a small animal sanctuary rescued from abuse. All this is done in exchange for room and board. We have a rather encouraging waiting list of people wishing to live this experience ! "



Horses survivors of animal abuse running through the Bardese countryside

Do you think micronationalism will be better understood in Italy with projects like yours? How do you plan to communicate to attract attention?


" I think that this particular moment of crisis that Italy is going through is a good opportunity to grow communities like ours. We do not disagree with the state, we do not intend to claim political autonomy, other than food and energy.


We believe that traditional nation states have no sustainable future. We are waiting for a change, and in the meantime, we are preparing. More and more people are moving in this direction and many are getting closer to the idea of ​​founding a micronation.


Our project has a good resonance potential because it involves holistic operators, free thinkers and artists of all kinds, some of whom are internationally known in their field of reference. It is one of our strengths. We also have ambassadors and ministers to Japan in San Marino, and everyone is working enthusiastically to promote Bardo.


To attract attention, we live in an era where social networks are essential. It is therefore obviously that we try to make ourselves known by exploiting them as well as possible ( facebook, instagram, video, etc.). At the same time, we organize events involving people who do not know us yet as a micronation.


"The Knights of Free Time "

We recently launched a distinction that allows us to bring together people who enthusiastically spread our values. We've called them 'Knights of Free Time' because we want to emphasize how important it is to use your free time well, rather than just sticking to the pattern of current work. It is thanks to free time that we increase our consciousness. We firmly believe in “creative leisure” to borrow the term from the Italian writer Domenico de Masi. Word of mouth, combined with social networks, is very important to make the Duchy of Bardo known and to position it in a coherent way. That's why it's important to set a good example every day."



Free Time Knights of Bardo

As a micronationalist, what do you consider to be your responsibility and your commitment. According to what vision?


" I really believe in micronationalism. It is my responsibility as founder and regent of the Duchy of Bardo to set an example first. "Let's make our life a work of art", says Gabriele D'Annunzio.


I brought Bardo to life, and I would like it to become an increasingly cohesive community: the number of people who join the Duchy is not important, but the quality of those people is.


This is the most important. Respect for nature and the importance of artistic beauty in a world littered with plastic and garbage must gradually become a priority for people. The Duchy of Bardo works to promote the worldview in which it stands out: an ecosophical and libertarian worldview noted for a marked holistic attitude.


I was born into a family with a baroque history, linked to medieval strongholds but also to court painters, princes, pirates and revolutionaries who believed in the power of ideas. Utopias remain such as long as they are not transformed into reality. In the end, anything is possible and we are the ones who create our reality."












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