There is a Constitution, an official currency, and there are diplomatic offices: since 2013 a man has claimed possession of a tiny island in the Red SeaGianni Rolando, the surveyor of Ravenna who became prince of the island of San Bernardino
Gianni Rolando's title is that of 'His Serene Highness Prince of San Bernardino'. He has had it for about 10 years, when in 2013 he claimed possession of a tiny island in the Red Sea 'orphaned in international waters'. From that moment on, the 69-year-old, ex 500 World Championship rider and surveyor, father of a Northern League councilor from Ravenna, became the regent of a full-blown principality: there is a Constitution, an official currency, and there are diplomatic offices, including the Consulate General in Italy in via Barberini 11 in Rome. But he has never been in that land: 'And in any case now it would be impossible because he is in the hands of the pirates' who infest those waters.Cecilia Rodriguez, Ignazio Moser asks her hand like this Cecilia Rodriguez, Ignazio Moser asks her hand like this
THAT ISLAND THAT CAME OUT OF NOWHERE - This incredible story is told by Milena Gabanelli in her daily appointment with Corriere della Sera: 'One day from the Red Sea, between Yemen and Eritrea, a completely new small volcanic island popped up and then he claimed it with a deed from a notary of San Marino baptizing it San Bernardino'. It was December 19, 2011 when the earth shook and the island emerged in the Red Sea, off the western coast of Yemen. Gianni Rolando feels like a new Christopher Columbus and immediately claims it: on 30 September 2013 he plants his virtual flag on the islet and takes possession of it, arguing that 'the Principality enjoys jurisdictional and tax immunities, that the provisions of its Courts are of jurisdictional provisions of a foreign State'.
THE OFFICIALITY OF THE PRINCIPALITY – To seal the birth of the principality there is a notarial deed drawn up in San Marino and a legal dispute with a noble association which accused Rolando of using the title 'prince' without actually being one. In the end, three arbitrators agreed with the surveyor: 'he is really the Prince of the sovereign state of San Bernardino, with the privilege of diplomatic immunity and the right of extraterritoriality in his residence'. Decision filed in the court of Sassari where the lawyer Casimiro Mastino works, a senior exponent of the State of San Bernardino with the rank of Lord Minister of Justice, Ethics and Morality. To make the Principality even more official also the photographs with consular representatives and embassy officials, mostly from African countries, to testify to diplomatic relations. To the point that four years ago Rolando wrote to Queen Elizabeth for the end of the year holidays, receiving a reply on Buckingham Palace letterhead addressed to «S.A.S. Gianni Rolando Prince of San Bernardino – Office for Europe».
LIFE AS A SAINT BERNARDINO – Many people would have sent a request to the Principality to have citizenship on the island which can also boast an official currency (crypto): the Pax. And that 'the first thing we will do is help Italy, which lacks autonomy and is subject to Europe which decides its fate'.
PREVIOUS – San Bernardino is not the only self-proclaimed kingdom with a curious history: there have been micronations such as the Isola delle Rose off the coast of Rimini (1968). But also Sealand, the Bates family platform a few miles from the English coast, 27 inhabitants. Or the utopian Celestia which was born when, before space exploration, a gentleman from Illinois created a nation that included the whole universe, to avoid disputes between states.