In the snowy Alps between the Swiss canton of Zermatt and the Italian town of Cervinia sits the Rifugio Guide del Cervino. Positioned near the peak of the Testa Grigia, the mountain lodge is popular with skiers and snow sport enthusiasts.
What visitors might not realize is that the building is currently at the center of a border dispute between Italy and Switzerland, thanks to the melting Theodul Glacier.
The Rifugio Guide del Cervino was constructed on a rocky outcrop in 1984. While it was initially positioned entirely in Italian territory, two-thirds of its structure has since moved into Switzerland, including its restaurant and the majority of its 40 beds.
Located in the Theodul Pass, the lodge has seen the Theodul Glacier shrink almost a quarter between 1973 and 2010. This has caused the rock beneath to become exposed to the ice, altering the natural drainage divide, which has long served as a borderline between Switzerland and Italy.
The change in this drainage line has forced the governments of both countries to work together to redraw the border along a 100-meter stretch of the line. Work began in 2018, with a resolution agreed upon in November 2021. However, the results will not be released to the public until it’s been rubber-stamped by the Swiss government.
Planned renovations to the Rifugio Guide del Cervino, including the completion of a cable car station, have been delayed as a result of the border dispute, as both sides have been unable to issue building permits. This will likely have a negative effect on the area, which relies on tourism to fuel its economy.