Sunday 28 August 2011: Carouge, Geneva - Sardinian city north of the Alps
Carouge is a suburb of Geneva separated from the Centre by the River Arve.
It was founded by Victor-Amédée III, King of Piedmont-Sardinia, a descendant of the Dukes of Savoy and predecessor of the future kings of Italy.
The Dukes had long coveted Geneva. Savoy recognised the independence of Geneva after the defeat of the Escalade - an attempt to scale the ramparts at night in 1602 - in the Treaty of Turin in 1603.
In the 18th Century Victor-Amédée III decided to found a rival town at the gates of Geneva, on the other side of the Arve. He brought in architects from Turin, the capital of his Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia, to build the new town. The hamlet of Carouge became a small town with planned and harmonious piedmontese architecture. It was declared a ?Royal City? in 1786 and Victor-Amédée III abolished all the toll gates in Savoy to encourage travelers and merchants to stay in Carouge instead of crossing the Arve and paying the toll to enter Geneva.
Victor-Amédée III established religious tolerance with a large Jewish colony with a synagogue, and a Protestant pastor although the city was Catholic. The Genevan Protestants, subjected to the austere rules of the Geneva Consistory, headed over to Carouge to dance, sing and drink on the other side of the Arve.
The French Revolution ended all this. The Sardinian city became the capital of the Department of Mont-Blanc, and subsequently joined the 36 Communes Réunies (united townships) attached to the Canton of Geneva in 1815, following the Congress of Vienna.
Despite this the citizens of Carouge, remained loyal to their Piedmontese origins, and they continued to close their shutters on the Swiss national holiday.
Remarkably the town of Carouge retains its "Sardinian" look and feel, and today is a relaxed and bohemian suburb of Geneva, a short tram ride from the centre.