Remko Tanis • 20 November 2018

Not sure why, but I’ve been drawn to desolated places of late. There’s the deserted casino of Campione d’Italia, the memory of a trip to the famous Chinese ghost mall, and now: the emptied out Swiss town of Corippo.

Corippo, Switzerland. Photo: (C) Remko Tanis

There are just twelve people living in Corippo, making it the smallest town in the country. It is built up against a mountain in southern Switzerland, just up the road from the massive hydraulic power Contra Dam.


As the village is still an independent entity, it has a mayor and a town council. That means 25 percent of the population is running the place.

I roamed around the town for a bit over two hours - remarkably long given how small it is. It has a long history, going all the way back to the thirteenth century. At its peak, mid-nineteenth century, Corippo had 291 residents.

It’s a beautiful place, but there is nothing to do, hardly a way to make a living. The mayor is the only one left with a job. Seven of twelve residents are over 70 years old. No one is under 30 (1 is under 40).

Corippo, Switzerland. Photo: (C) Remko Tanis

This still being Switzerland, the town does have clean street bins for trash. Swiss Post empties the letter box in town daily and public transportation consists of a bus hits Corippo a few times a day.

I didn’t see anyone while walking around. It’s easy to feel like an intruder roaming the narrow streets, peaking into houses, taking photos of the frescos badly in need of restoration. Until you remind yourself that there’s no one to intrude upon. The chimes of the church tower bell are all that’s breaking up the silence. They gave me scare every 30 minutes.

Corippo won’t be going anywhere soon. The town has been put on the official Swiss Heritage list. Empty houses, some of which still have the furniture in them of residents who left over fifty years ago, are being renovated and turned into guest accommodation.

The Corippo Foundation aims to remodel the entire town into a hotel, with the old houses being the rooms. The surroundings are quite beautiful if you’re into mountain tracking and isolation and such.

The nearest city, Lugano, is an hour’s drive away.

The cemetery of Corippo, Switzerland. Photo: (C) Remko Tanis