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Coat of arms of Lugano
Coat of arms
Lugano is located in Switzerland
Country Switzerland
Canton Ticino
District Lugano
 • Executive Municipio
with 7 members
 • Mayor Sindaco (list)
Marco Borradori Ticino League
(as of February 2014)
 • Parliament Consiglio comunale
with 60 members
 • Total 75.98 km2 (29.34 sq mi)
Elevation 273 m (896 ft)
Population (Dec 2014[2])
 • Total 63,668
 • Density 840/km2 (2,200/sq mi)
Postal code from 6900 to 6917, 6932, 6951, 6959, from 6962 to 6968, from 6974 to 6979
SFOS number 5192
Localities Barbengo, Besso, Brè-Aldesago, Breganzona, Cadro, Carabbia, Carona, Castagnola-Cassarate, Cureggia, Davesco-Soragno, Gandria, Loreto, Lugano Centro, Molino Nuovo, Pambio Noranco, Pazzallo, Pregassona, Sonvico, Val Colla, Viganello, Villa Luganese[3]
Surrounded by Arogno, Bioggio, Brusimpiano (Italy), Campione d'Italia (Italy), Canobbio, Capriasca, Collina d'Oro, Grancia, Lanzo d'Intelvi (Italy), Massagno, Melide, Morcote, Muzzano, Paradiso, Ponte Capriasca, Porza, Savosa, Sorengo, Valsolda (Italy), Vezia, Vico Morcote[4]
Website .ch.luganowww
SFSO statistics

Lugano (Italian: Lugano; Ticinese: Lügàn) is a city in southern Switzerland, in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino, which borders Italy. The population of the city proper was 71.500, and the population of the urban agglomeration was over 145,000. It is the 9th largest city of Switzerland by population, the largest city in Ticino, and the largest city with an Italian speaking majority outside of Italy.[5]

The city lies on Lake Lugano, surrounded by the mountains of the Lugano Prealps. Its warm summers and the fact that in recent years it has attracted an ever growing number of celebrities, entertainers, and successful athletes have given it the nickname of the "Monte Carlo of Switzerland".[6][7]


  • Name and coat of arms 1
  • History 2
    • Pre-history 2.1
    • Foundation of Lugano 2.2
    • Lugano during the Renaissance and Enlightenment 2.3
    • Canton of Lugano 2.4
    • 19th century 2.5
    • Modern Lugano 2.6
  • Geography 3
    • Climate 3.1
  • Demographics 4
    • Historic population 4.1
    • Religion 4.2
  • Politics 5
  • Economy 6
  • Tourism 7
    • Heritage sites of national significance 7.1
    • Natural sights 7.2
    • Buildings 7.3
    • Museums 7.4
  • Education and research 8
  • Transport 9
    • Road 9.1
    • Air 9.2
    • Shipping 9.3
    • Railways 9.4
  • Culture 10
    • Sports 10.1
  • Notable people 11
  • See also 12
  • References 13
  • Further reading 14
  • External links 15

Name and coat of arms

The toponym is first recorded in 804, in the form Luanasco, in 874 as Luano, and from 1189 as Lugano. German-language variants of the name (now no longer in use) were Lowens, Lauis, Lauwis. [8][9] The etymology of the name is uncertain, suggestions include derivation from lucus "grove",[10] from a vulgar Latin lakvannus "lake-dweller"[11] and from the god Lugus.[12]

The blazon of the municipal coat of arms is Gules, a cross throughout argent, between the upper case serif letters "L", "V", "G" and "A" (respectively in the I, II, III and IV quarters). The coat of arms dates from around 1200. The four letters on the coat of arms are an abbreviation of the name Lugano.[13]



The shores of Lake Lugano have been inhabited since the Stone Age. Within the modern city limits (Breganzona, Castagnola, Davesco and Gandria) a number of ground stones or quern-stones have been found. In the area surrounding Lugano, items from the Copper Age and the Iron Age have been found.[14] There are Etruscan monuments at Davesco-Soragno (5th to 2nd century BC), Pregassona (3rd to 2nd century BC), and Viganello (3rd to 2nd century BC). Graves with jewelry and household items have been found in Aldesago, Davesco, Pazzallo and Pregassona along with Celtic money in Viganello.

The region around Lake Lugano was settled by the Romans by the 1st century BC. There was an important Roman city north of Lugano at Bioggio.[14] There are fewer traces of the Romans in Lugano, but several inscriptions, graves and coins indicate that some Romans lived in what would become Lugano.

Foundation of Lugano

The first written mention of a settlement at Lugano can be found in documents, which are of disputed authenticity,[15] with which the Longobard king, Liutprand, ceded various assets located in Lugano to the Church of Saint Carpophorus in Como in 724. Other documents, dating from 804 and 844 refer to Lake Lugano as Laco Luanasco, and an act of 984 indicates Lugano as a market town.[15]

During the fighting between Guelphs and Ghibellines and the new disputes between Como and Milan, during the 14th and 15th centuries, Lugano was the scene of clashes between opposing forces. After a long rule by the Rusca family, Lugano was freed from the domination of Como, which had been taken over in 1335 by the Visconti. At the same time the link between town and the valley strengthened. By 1405–06 documents attest to a vallis comunitas Lugani et, which was a governing body that was independent of Como. The new community included the parishes of Lugano, Agno, Riva San Vitale and Capriasca. In 1416 the Duke of Milan, Filippo Maria Visconti conquered the region of Lugano and the Rusca valley and made it a fief. A year later, Lugano's freedoms were first documented in a series of statutes modeled on those of Como. The town was able to secure complete independence.[15]

Lugano during the Renaissance and Enlightenment

Between 1433 and 1438 the Duke of Milan, Aloisio Sanseverino sat as a feudal lord over Lugano. He compensated the Rusca family with the ownership of Locarno. Under the reign of his heirs in the following decades rebellions and riots broke out, which lasted until the French invasion of 1499.

It was the object of continuous disputes between the Dukes of Como and Milan until it became a Swiss dominion in 1513. Swiss control lasted until 1798 when Napoleon conquered the Old Swiss Confederation and created the Helvetic Republic.

In 1746, the Agnelli brothers opened the first printing press and bookshop in Lugano. They began publishing the newspaper Nuove di diverse corti e paesi in 1748 and changed its name to Gazzetta di Lugano in 1797. The newspaper was widely read in north and central Italy. It supported the cause of the later Jansenists against the Jesuits and was therefore banned in 1768 in the territory of the Papal States. It was open to the themes of enlightened reform and the American Revolutionary War. It was the first newspaper in the Italian language to publish an excerpt from the Declaration of Independence of 1776. After the death of Abbot Gian Battista Agnelli in 1788, who had been the editor for more than 40 years, Abbot Giuseppe Lodovico Maria Vanelli took over the paper. Under Abbot Vanelli, it supported the revolutionary ideas from France, which drew protests from the Austrian government in Lombardy. The publication of the magazine ceased abruptly after edition number 17 of 29 April 1799, following the anti-French riots in Lugano during which the Agnelli printing house was sacked and Abbot Vanelli was shot.[16]

Under the Helvetic Republic, Lugano became the center of the Canton of Lugano.

Canton of Lugano

The canton of Lugano unified the former Landvogteien of Lugano, Mendrisio, Locarno and Valmaggia. However, as with the other cantons of the Helvetic Republic, the autonomy of Lugano was very limited, the republic having been founded by Napoleon in order further to centralise power in Switzerland. The canton was led by a Directory of five members, who appointed a "national préfet".[17]

The canton was deeply divided between "patriots", supporting the Cisalpine Republic, and traditionalist "aristocrats". By 1799 riots broke out in Lugano, and the second préfet, Francesco Capra, fled the city. Power passed to a provisional government sympathetic to the Habsburgs. However, French occupation was restored in 1800.[17] Discontent continued and in early 1802 a revolt in Capriasca led to the autumn pronunciamento of Pian Povrò, which declared the independence of Lugano from the Helvetic client republic.

With the Act of Mediation, the following year, political agitation was finally quelled, as were the struggles between unionists and federalists. The canton of Lugano merged with Bellinzona creating the canton of Ticino, which endures to the present day.

19th century

Lugano in the early 20th century

After 1803, the political municipality of Lugano was created. One of the first tasks of the new city government was to determine the division of property and authority between the

  • Official website
  • Lugano Tourism
  • Lugano travel guide from Wikivoyage

External links

  • "Lugano and its Environs". Switzerland: with the Neighboring Lakes of Northern Italy, Savoy, and the Adjacent Districts of Piedmont, Lombardy and the Tyrol, Handbook for Travellers. Coblenz: Karl Baedeker. 1863. 
  • "Lugano and its Lake", Switzerland, Together with Chamonix and the Italian Lakes (26th ed.), Leipzig: Karl Baedeker, 1922,  
  • "Lugano", The Encyclopaedia Britannica (11th ed.), New York: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1910,  

Further reading

  1. ^ Arealstatistik Standard - Gemeindedaten nach 4 Hauptbereichen
  2. ^ a b Swiss Federal Statistics Office – STAT-TAB Ständige und Nichtständige Wohnbevölkerung nach Region, Geschlecht, Nationalität und Alter (German) accessed 31 August 2015
  3. ^ "Quartieri" [districts] (in Italian). City of Lugano. Retrieved 23 July 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d (Map). Swiss Confederation. Retrieved 2012-07-17. 
  5. ^ Top 20 Cities in Switzerland on Population
  6. ^ "Svizzera – Lugano – Guida alle città svizzere" [Switzerland - Lugano - Swiss City Guides] (in Italian). Retrieved 24 November 2008. 
  7. ^ "Hôtels à Lugano" [Hotels in Lugano] (in French). Retrieved 24 November 2008. 
  8. ^ a b "History of the City". City of Lugano. Retrieved 18 February 2009. 
  9. ^ a b Lugano (commune) in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.
  10. ^ Stefano Vassere, I nomi di luogo - L'origine del nome di Lugano (1993)
  11. ^ Gili-Vassere, 2000-2001, 33-37.
  12. ^ - Lugus - A Celtic God, also known as Lugos, Lleu, Lug, Lugh, Lugus: The Shining One or The Shadowy One
  13. ^ "Lugano commune (Ticino canton, Switzerland)". Flags of the World Website. Retrieved 20 July 2012.  "Gastone Cambin in the armorial of the communes of Tessin says that there has been a lot of strange conjectures about the meaning of the letters LUGA. It is obvious that they are simply the abbreviation of Lugano as it is proved by the primitive coat of arms of the parish, and which is confirmed by documents from 18 October 1208 and 14 November 1209, preserved once in the monastery of Sant'Amborgio of Milan but now undiscoverable. Cambin never alludes to 'La Vera Giustizia Antica' in his approach of the coat of arms of Lugano and I'm inclined to think that the meaning quoted by Mr. Huber [who submitted this interpretation on 30 April 2002] has expanded recently but without solid background." Pascal Gross, 2 May 2002
  14. ^ a b Pre-History to Roman Times in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.
  15. ^ a b c Lugano (commune) – Medieval in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.
  16. ^ Nuove di diverse corti e paesi in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.
  17. ^ a b Canton of Lugano in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h Lugano (commune) – 19th and 20th Century in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.
  19. ^ "Amtliches Gemeindeverzeichnis der Schweiz" [Official community register of Switzerland] (in German). Swiss Federal Statistical Office. Retrieved 14 January 2010. 
  20. ^ a b c "TimesOnline Business City Guide – Lugano". The Times. Retrieved 18 February 2009. 
  21. ^ Dvir, Noam (30 June 2011). "Sleepy Israeli town to construct replica of Italian neighborhood". (Haaretz Daily Newspaper Ltd). Retrieved 20 July 2012. 
  22. ^ "Altitudine, superficie, secondo il genere di utilizzazione, rilevazione 1992/1997, e densità della popolazione, nel 2000" [Altitude, surface, and land usage survey 1992/1997, and population density in 2000] (in Italian). Retrieved 25 October 2010. 
  23. ^ a b "Climate normals Lugano (Reference period 1981−2010)" (PDF). Zürich-Airport, Switzerland: Swiss Federal Office of Metreology and Climatology, MeteoSwiss. 2 July 2014. Retrieved 2015-04-03. 
  24. ^ a b "Population". City of Lugano. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  25. ^ a b "Statistica della popolazione, delle attività economiche e della gestione stabili al 31 dicembre 2013" (PDF) (PowerPoint presentation) (in Italian) (2013). 2014. pp. 2–8. Retrieved 2014-08-01. data from 31 Dec 2013 
  26. ^ "The history of Lugano". City of Lugano. 
  27. ^ a b "Gemeinde Statistics 1981–2008" [Municipality Statistics 1981-2008]. Superweb database (in German). Swiss Federal Statistical Office. Retrieved 19 June 2010. 
  28. ^ a b c d e f Swiss Federal Statistical Office accessed 9 January 2011
  29. ^ a b "Popolazione residente, secondo la lingua principale e la religione, nel 2000" [Resident population, according to the primary language and religion, in 2000] (in Italian). Repubblica e Cantone Ticino. Retrieved 23 November 2010. 
  30. ^ a b 01.02.03 "Popolazione residente permanente" [Permanent resident population] (in Italian). Repubblica e Cantone Ticino. Retrieved 23 November 2010. 
  31. ^ Eurostat. "Housing (SA1)". Urban Audit Glossary (pdf). 2007. pp. 17–18. Retrieved 12 February 2010. 
  32. ^ "09.02.01 Edifici" [09.02.01 Buildings] (in Italian). Repubblica e Cantone Ticino. Retrieved 23 November 2010. 
  33. ^ a b "09.02.02 Abitazioni" [09.02.02 Housing] (in Italian). Repubblica e Cantone Ticino. Retrieved 23 November 2010. 
  34. ^ "Rental prices - 2003 data" (in German). Swiss Federal Statistical Office. Retrieved 26 May 2010. 
  35. ^ "Nationalratswahlen 2007: Stärke der Parteien und Wahlbeteiligung, nach Gemeinden/Bezirk/Canton" [National Council elections 2007: strength of the parties and voter turnout, by municipality/district/canton] (in German). Swiss Federal Statistical Office. Retrieved 28 May 2010. 
  36. ^ a b "Elezioni cantonali: Gran Consiglio, Consiglio di Stato" [Cantonal elections: Grand Council, Council of State] (in Italian). Repubblica e Cantone Ticino. Retrieved 23 November 2010. 
  37. ^ a b "Statweb" (in German). Swiss Federal Statistical Office. Retrieved 24 June 2010. 
  38. ^ "Settori alberghiero e paralberghiero" (in Italian). Repubblica e Cantone Ticino. Retrieved 23 November 2010. 
  39. ^ "Contatti". Darwin Airline. Retrieved March 2010. 
  40. ^ "Discover Lugano". Lugano Tourism. Retrieved 13 March 2009. 
  41. ^ "Mountain Bike". Lugano tourism. Retrieved 19 July 2012. 
  42. ^ "Kantonsliste A-Objekte:Ticino" (PDF). KGS Inventar (in German). Federal Office of Civil Protection. 2009. Retrieved 12 July 2010. 
  43. ^ a b "Living the Lake". Lugano Tourism. Retrieved 13 March 2009. 
  44. ^ "Stato di Salute del Ceresio" [Health Status of Lake Lugano] (in Italian). Società Navigazione Lago di Lugano. Retrieved 22 November 2008. 
  45. ^ "Monte Bre". Lugano Tourism. Retrieved 19 July 2012. 
  46. ^ "Monte San Salvatore". Lugano Tourism. Retrieved 19 July 2012. 
  47. ^ "Monte Generoso". Monte Generoso Railway. Retrieved 2 July 2012. 
  49. ^ "Allievi e studenti, secondo il genere di scuola, anno scolastico 2009/2010" [Pupils and students, by type of school, school year 2009/2010] (in Italian). Repubblica e Cantone Ticino. Retrieved 23 November 2010. 
  50. ^ "List of libraries" (in German). Swiss Federal Statistical Office. Retrieved 14 May 2010. 
  51. ^ "Cisalpino Website" (in German). Retrieved 18 February 2009. 
  52. ^ "William Tell Express". Rail Europe. Retrieved 18 February 2009. 
  53. ^ "Eurovision Song Contest 1956".  
  54. ^ Barclay, Simon (June 17, 2010). The Complete and Independent Guide to the Eurovision Song Contest 2010. Silverthorn Press. p. 24.  
  55. ^ "Museo Cantonale Arte" [Cantonal Museum of Art] (in Italian). Retrieved 10 August 2010. 
  56. ^ "Lugano Trophy". Retrieved 21 July 2012. 


See also

People who reside or have become permanent residents of Lugano:

People who were born or died in Lugano:

Notable people

Lugano hosts an annual major international sporting event, the "Gran Premio Citta Di Lugano" which is a European Athletics permit meeting and attracts racewalkers from all over the world. They compete for substantial prizes in the 20 kilometres (12 miles) racewalk, which is an Olympic event, and many national records have been set.[56]

Stadio Cornaredo The Stadio Cornaredo is the largest stadium in Lugano. There is space for 15,000 people. Around the soccer field there is a gravel lane used during athletic contests and that, outside of official match and training hours, can be used by joggers free of charge. Next to the stadium are three small training fields. There are also two artificial grass fields: one for field hockey and one for soccer. In addition there is also a skate park next to the stadium.

BC Lugano Tigers (former Basket Club Lugano) plays in the Swiss National League A (LNA). They play at the Elvetico gym, won the Swiss Cup in 2011 and have been Swiss LNA Champions in 2000, 2001, 2006 and 2010.

FC Lugano plays in the Swiss Challenge League. They play at the Stadio Cornaredo and won the Swiss title in 1938, 1941 and 1949 and the Swiss Cup in 1931, 1968 and 1993.

Hockey Club Lugano (HCL) plays in the Switzerland National League. They play at the Resega arena and have won seven national titles, having participated twice in the European Cup final round and once in the top four final in Euroleague. In 1991, Lugano reached the final of the famous Spengler Cup and twice reached third place in the IIHF Continental Cup Superfinal.


The town of Brè offers its visitors charming corners created by its characteristic stone buildings. The cobble stone streets of the town offer art enthusiasts an artistic path that is very interesting both because of the presence of national and international "names" and the combination of art and the environment.

The Museo Cantonale d'Arte has two parallel objectives: the conservation and study of the Museum's permanent collection, which is above all made up of works belonging to the 19th and 20th centuries; and the planning and presentation of temporary exhibitions. It focuses on art of the canton Ticino and present artists from the region on a regular basis.[55]

In 1956, the Teatro Kursaal in Lugano hosted the first Eurovision Song Contest.[53][54]

The Lugano Festival runs during April and May, followed by the related "Progetto Martha Argerich" in June. Estival Jazz arrives in July. Between July and August there is the LongLake Festival, one of the greatest urban open air happenings in Switzerland. During one month, the LongLake offers over 300 events in downtown Lugano. The Blues-to-Bop Festival arrives in late August and early September turns the city into a hive of activity as thousands crowd the streets and piazzas for free open-air concerts.

The Palazzo dei Congressi is the performing arts center for Lugano. It is a main hall for the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana.

Model by Mario Botta of Borromini's San Carlo church


Lugano is also served by three funicular railways. The Funicolare Lugano Città–Stazione is a short line connecting Lugano railway station to the city centre, whilst the Funicolare Monte Brè and the Funicolare Monte San Salvatore ascend nearby hills to vantage points.

In the future, connections to Bellinzona will improve with the opening of the Ceneri Base Tunnel and connections to cities in Northern Switzerland, such as Zürich, will improve with the Gotthard Base Tunnel.

Lugano is also served by regular stopping trains of the Treni Regionali Ticino Lombardia (TILO), which operate every half-hour between Bellinzona and Chiasso, with some services extended to Milan. Additionally, the metre gauge (3 ft 3 38 in gauge) Lugano-Ponte Tresa Railway (FLP) connects Lugano with Ponte Tresa.

Lugano's railway station is situated on the Gotthard Railway, which links northern Switzerland with Italy. Long distance trains of the Swiss Federal Railway (CFF), together with international trains of Trenitalia, connect Lugano with the cities of northern Switzerland and with Milan. From May until mid October, the tourist oriented Wilhelm Tell Express connects Lucerne with Lugano.[51][52]


Boats of the Società Navigazione del Lago di Lugano provide services on Lake Lugano. Whilst these are principally provided for tourist purposes, they also connect Lugano with other lake-side communities. Several of the landing points are within the sparsely populated section of the city that lies on the east side of lake, and have no road access.


Lugano is served by Lugano Airport, in the nearby municipality of Agno. Darwin Airline and Swiss Airlines both operate to Lugano Airport. While there is limited service to Lugano's airport, Milan’s airports are around 60 to 90 minutes away and provide access to a greater number of worldwide locations.[20]


ASF Autolinee, an Italian bus company, operates an international bus route from Lugano to Menaggio, on the shores of Lake Como.

Longer distance buses, as well as some local buses, are operated by PostBus Switzerland, known locally as the AutoPostale. Its Palm Express service connects Lugano to St. Moritz. AutoPostale buses operate from an underground bus station and ticket office, located at Via Balestra 4 in the centre of Lugano.

The Trasporti Pubblici Luganesi (TPL) operate frequent inner city buses throughout Lugano and some of its closer neighbours. The Autolinee Regionali Luganesi (ARL) runs buses connecting Lugano with the towns of Canobbio, Davesco, Lamone, Sonvico and Tesserete, whilst the Società Navigazione del Lago di Lugano runs buses to Gandria and Campione d'Italia. TPL, ARL and SNL services operate from the Lugano Centro bus station.

Lugano is located along the A2 motorway, a part of the European route E35 which over 1,600 km (990 mi) between Amsterdam and Rome.


Lugano railway station
Lugano landing stage
Lugano airport from the air
Lugano Centro bus station


Some of the schools in Lugano include;

The iCub humanoid robot at IDSIA's robotics lab in Switzerland trying to reach for a blue cup. To do so it has to plan and control the movement of all its joints in unison.

Lugano is home to 2 libraries. These libraries include; the Biblioteca universitaria di Lugano and the Biblioteca cantonale Lugano. There was a combined total (as of 2008) of 448,811 books or other media in the libraries, and in the same year a total of 51,740 items were loaned out.[50]

The professional program lasts three years and prepares a student for a job in engineering, nursing, computer science, business, tourism and similar fields. There were 89 students in the professional program.[49] As of 2000, there were 3,537 students in Lugano who came from another municipality, while 887 residents attended schools outside the municipality.[37]

The upper secondary school includes several options, but at the end of the upper secondary program, a student will be prepared to enter a trade or to continue on to a university or college. In Ticino, vocational students may either attend school while working on their internship or apprenticeship (which takes three or four years) or may attend school followed by an internship or apprenticeship (which takes one year as a full-time student or one and a half to two years as a part-time student).[48] There were 492 vocational students who were attending school full-time and 722 who attend part-time.

In Lugano there were a total of 7,931 students (as of 2009). The Ticino education system provides up to three years of non-mandatory kindergarten and in Lugano there were 1,356 children in kindergarten. The primary school program lasts for five years and includes both a standard school and a special school. In the municipality, 2,280 students attended the standard primary schools and 129 students attended the special school. In the lower secondary school system, students either attend a two-year middle school followed by a two-year pre-apprenticeship or they attend a four-year program to prepare for higher education. There were 1,932 students in the two-year middle school and 47 in their pre-apprenticeship, while 884 students were in the four-year advanced program.

In Lugano about 63.7% of the population (between age 25–64) have completed either non-mandatory upper secondary education or additional higher education (either university or a Fachhochschule).[28]

Università della Svizzera italiana, informatics building

Education and research


  • St. Lawrence Cathedral (9th and 15th century)
  • St. Mary of the Angels Church (16th century) with the fresco of the Christ's Passion from Bernardino Luini
  • Parco civico – Villa Ciani
  • Piazza della Riforma
  • Villa Favorita


View of Lake Lugano from Monte San Giorgio

Slightly further afield is Monte Generoso (1,704 metres (5,591 ft)), with a view that encompasses the lakes of Lugano, Como and Maggiore, as well as the Alps from the Matterhorn to the Bernina Range, the Lombardy Plains, and, on a clear day, the city of Milan. The summit can be reached by taking either an SNL boat, or a railway train, to Capolago, and changing there onto a rack railway train of the Monte Generoso Railway.[47]

In addition to the lake, Lugano is surrounded by mountains, which provide a number of opportunities for sports or sightseeing. Two mountains, both providing excellent views over the city and lake, bracket each end of the city's waterfront. Monte Brè (933 metres (3,061 ft)), to the north, is reputedly Switzerland's sunniest spot and is also home to the old village of Brè. Monte San Salvatore (912 metres (2,992 ft)), to the south, has an old church and museum atop its summit. Both mountains are accessible by funicular railways, which are themselves easily accessible by frequent city bus or by car.[45][46]

Several companies, including the Società Navigazione del Lago di Lugano (SNL), provide tourist boat services on the lake. A popular excursion is by SNL boat to the picturesque lakeside village of Gandria. Additionally there are numerous shipyards, water taxis and boat rental sites along the lake, as well as hotels and restaurants that offer moorings. Bathing in the lake is allowed at any of the 50 or so bathing establishments located along the Swiss shores.[43][44]

A very popular destination in Lugano is Lake Lugano. The lake is 48.7 square kilometres (18.8 sq mi) in size, 63% of which is in Switzerland and 37% in Italy. It has an average width of roughly 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) and is nearly 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) at its widest. The maximum depth of the lake is 279 meters (915 ft). The water is generally warm with average water temperatures in the summer ranging from 19.5 °C (67.1 °F) to 24.0 °C (75.2 °F).[43]

View of Monte San Salvatore and Lugano, as seen from Monte Brè
The view of Lake Lugano from Monte Brè

Natural sights

The heritage sites of national significance included two libraries, the Biblioteca Cantonale and the Biblioteca Salita dei Frati as well as the Swiss National Recording Archives (Fonoteca nazionale svizzera). There were three churches; Cathedral of S. Lorenzo, Church of S. Maria degli Angioli and the Church of S. Rocco. There were three museums; the Museo cantonale d’arte, the Museo cantonale di storia naturale and the Villa Ciani complex with the Museo civico. The cemetery complex at via Trevano is also one of the sites, as is the Radiotelevisione svizzera di lingua italiana (RTSI) Italian-language broadcast facility. The rest of the sites are notable houses throughout the city. They include; the Palazzo civico at piazza della Riforma, the Palazzo e cinema Corso at via Pioda, the Palazzo Riva at via Francesco Soave, the Palazzo Riva at via Massimiliano Magatti, the Palazzo Riva at via Pretorio 7 and Villa Favorita in Castagnola.

There are 17 sites in Lugano that are part of the Swiss heritage site of national significance. The city of Lugano, the villages of Barbengo, Brè, Gandria and Biogno, and the sites of Cantine di Gandria and Castagnola are all part of the Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites.[42]

Heritage sites of national significance

Both Lake Lugano and the surrounding mountains provide a wide variety of outdoor activities. The area surrounding Lugano is home to over 300 kilometres (190 mi) of mountain biking trails, the largest net of trails in Switzerland.[41]

Lugano is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Switzerland. The city is home to a number of historic buildings and museums, whilst the surrounding area has many natural sights.[40]


The airline Darwin Airline, operating under the brand name Etihad Regional since January 2014, has its head office on the grounds of Lugano Airport in Agno, near Lugano.[39]

As of 2009, there were 43 hotels in Lugano with a total of 1,584 rooms and 2,889 beds.[38]

In 2000, there were 28,174 workers who commuted into the municipality and 3,994 workers who commuted away. Lugano is the economic center of the region and draws about 7.1 workers into the municipality for every one leaving. About 12.4% of the workforce coming into Lugano are coming from outside Switzerland, while 1.6% of the locals commute out of Switzerland for work.[37] Of the working population, 15.2% used public transportation to get to work, and 44.6% used a private car.[28]

As of 2007, Lugano had an unemployment rate of 5.59%. As of 2005, there were 77 people employed in the primary economic sector and about 28 businesses involved in this sector. 3,520 people were employed in the secondary sector and there were 420 businesses in this sector. 33,601 people were employed in the tertiary sector, with 3,877 businesses in this sector.[28] There were 12,191 residents of the municipality who were employed in some capacity, of which females made up 45.9% of the workforce.


In the 2007 Ticino Consiglio di Stato election, 158 blank ballots and 79 null ballots were cast, leaving 14,980 valid ballots in the election. The most popular party was the LEGA which received 3,839 or 25.6% of the vote. The next three most popular parties were; the PLRT (with 3,596 or 24.0%), the PS (with 2,496 or 16.7%) and the SSI (with 2,169 or 14.5%).[36]

In the 2007 Ticino Gran Consiglio election, there were a total of 27,557 registered voters in Lugano, of which 15,214 or 55.2% voted. 237 blank ballots and 38 null ballots were cast, leaving 14,939 valid ballots in the election. The most popular party was the PLRT which received 3,680 or 24.6% of the vote. The next three most popular parties were; the LEGA (with 2,854 or 19.1%), the SSI (with 2,532 or 16.9%) and the PS (with 2,170 or 14.5%).[36]

In the 2007 federal election the most popular party was the FDP which received 26.6% of the vote. The next three most popular parties were the Ticino League (19%), the CVP (18.71%) and the SP (17.46%). In the federal election, a total of 11,980 votes were cast, and the voter turnout was 42.8%.[35]


From the 2000 census, 18,035 or 67.9% were Roman Catholic, while 1,517 or 5.7% belonged to the Swiss Reformed Church. There are 4,714 individuals (or about 17.75% of the population) who belong to another church (not listed on the census), and 2,294 individuals (or about 8.64% of the population) did not answer the question.[29]


The population of the original town of Lugano (not including the municipalities added after 1972) is given in this chart:[9]

Historic population

As of 2003 the average price to rent an average apartment in Lugano was 1073.49 Swiss francs (CHF) per month (US$860, £480, €690 approx. exchange rate from 2003). The average rate for a one room apartment was 623.12 CHF (US$500, £280, €400), a two room apartment was about 809.81 CHF (US$650, £360, €520), a three room apartment was about 1030.53 CHF (US$820, £460, €660) and a six or more room apartment cost an average of 1890.13 CHF (US$1510, £850, €1210). The average apartment price in Lugano was 96.2% of the national average of 1116 CHF.[34]

The vacancy rate for the municipality, in 2008, was 0.64%. In 2000 there were 16,333 apartments in the municipality. The most common apartment size was the 3 room apartment of which there were 5,398. There were 1,811 single room apartments and 2,019 apartments with five or more rooms.[33] Of these apartments, a total of 13,342 apartments (81.7% of the total) were permanently occupied, while 2,485 apartments (15.2%) were seasonally occupied and 506 apartments (3.1%) were empty.[33] As of 2007, the construction rate of new housing units was 3.3 new units per 1000 residents.[28]

As of 2000, there were 23,168 private households in the municipality, and an average of 2. persons per household.[28] In 2000 there were 489 single family homes (or 20.6% of the total) out of a total of 2,372 inhabited buildings. There were 214 two family buildings (9.0%) and 1,046 multi-family buildings (44.1%). There were also 623 buildings in the municipality that were multipurpose buildings (used for both housing and commercial or another purpose).[32]

As of 2000 the average number of residents per living room was 0.61 which is about equal to the cantonal average of 0.6 per room. In this case, a room is defined as space of a housing unit of at least 4 m2 (43 sq ft) as normal bedrooms, dining rooms, living rooms, kitchens and habitable cellars and attics. About 19.1% of the total households were owner occupied, or in other words did not pay rent (though they may have a mortgage or a rent-to-own agreement).[31]

BSI buildings in Lugano

The age distribution, as of 2009, in Lugano is; 4,666 children or 8.5% of the population are between 0 and 9 years old and 5,013 teenagers or 9.1% are between 10 and 19. Of the adult population, 6,270 people or 11.4% of the population are between 20 and 29 years old. 8,267 people or 15.0% are between 30 and 39, 9,113 people or 16.6% are between 40 and 49, and 6,844 people or 12.4% are between 50 and 59. The senior population distribution is 6,459 people or 11.7% of the population are between 60 and 69 years old, 4,947 people or 9.0% are between 70 and 79, there are 3,481 people or 6.3% who are over 80.[30]

In 2008 there were 318 live births to Swiss citizens and 190 births to non-Swiss citizens, and in same time span there were 351 deaths of Swiss citizens and 92 non-Swiss citizen deaths. Ignoring immigration and emigration, the population of Swiss citizens decreased by 33 while the foreign population increased by 98. There were 7 Swiss men and 3 Swiss women who emigrated from Switzerland. At the same time, there were 672 non-Swiss men and 556 non-Swiss women who immigrated from another country to Switzerland. The total Swiss population change in 2008 (from all sources, including moves across municipal borders) was an increase of 197 and the non-Swiss population change was an increase of 706 people. This represents a population growth rate of 1.7%.[27]

As of 2008, the gender distribution of the population was 47.1% male and 52.9% female. The population was made up of 15,457 Swiss men (28.1% of the population), and 10,461 (19.0%) non-Swiss men. There were 19,417 Swiss women (35.3%), and 9,725 (17.7%) non-Swiss women.[30]

Between 1997 and 2007, the population changed at a rate of 6.9%. Most of the population (as of 2000) speaks Italian (80.3%), with German being second most common (7.1%) and Serbo-Croatian being third (2.7%).[28] Of the Swiss national languages (as of 2000), 20,998 people speak Italian, 1,855 speak German, 597 people speak French, and 39 people speak Romansh. The remainder (3,071 people) speak another language.[29]

Lugano has a population (as of December 2014) of 63,668.[2] As of 2008, 36.2% of the population are resident foreign nationals.[27]

The town's thriving economy provides an estimated 38,000 jobs,[24] over a third of which are occupied by cross-border commuters. Business, tourism and finance constitute the backbone of the local economy. In 2000, the tertiary sector offered 90% of all jobs in Lugano, of which 75% were occupied by commuters, many of which commute from neighbouring Italy (approximately 13% of the active working population); in the same year tax revenues reached CHF 104 million, of which CHF 59 million were attributable to the banking sector. The city is Switzerland's third largest banking centre after Zürich and Geneva.[20][26] With regards to intercommunal financial equalisation, thanks to its financial strength Lugano contributes significantly to the equalisation fund.[18] The population is Italian-speaking and mainly Roman Catholic.

Largest groups of foreign residents 2013[25]
Nationality Amount % total
 Italy 15,047 22,4 (58)
 Portugal 1,400 2 (5.4)
 Germany 1,098 1.6 (4.3)
 Serbia 949 1.4 (3.7)
 Bosnia and Herzegovina 430 0.6 (1.7)
 Kosovo 428 0.6 (1.7)
 Spain 417 0.6 (1.6)
 France 360 0.5 (1.4)
 Turkey 351 0.5 (1.4)
 Croatia 345 0.5 (1.3)
 Brazil 310 0.5 (1.2)
 United States 284 0.4 (1.1)
 Russia 274 0.4 (1.0)

Since its union with some surrounding municipalities (Breganzona, Cureggia, Davesco-Soragno, Gandria, Pambio-Noranco, Pazzallo, Pregassona and Viganello) in 2004, 2008 (Barbengo, Carabbia and Villa Luganese) and 2013 (Bogno, Cadro, Carona, Certara, Cimadera, Sonvico and Val Colla), Lugano has as of December 2013 a population of 67,201 and is therefore Canton Ticino's largest city.[24] The expansion in 2004 was the second major expansion after the union in 1972 with the municipalities of Brè-Aldesago and Castagnola. Of registered inhabitants, 38.4% (25,809) do not hold Swiss citizenship. Among the Swiss population (61.6%, 41,392), 24.3% (16,349) are Luganesi, 21.7% (14,585) from anywhere else in the canton of Ticino, and 15.6% (10,458) from other cantons in Switzerland.[25]


Climate data for Lugano (1981-2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 6.6
Daily mean °C (°F) 3.3
Average low °C (°F) 0.8
Average precipitation mm (inches) 66
Average snowfall cm (inches) 12.7
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 4.8 4.6 6.1 10.6 12.8 10.0 7.9 9.6 8.4 9.1 7.8 6.4 98.1
Average snowy days (≥ 1.0 cm) 1.1 0.9 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.2 1.3 3.7
Average relative humidity (%) 70 65 61 68 70 68 66 69 73 78 72 70 69
Mean monthly sunshine hours 125 138 186 171 187 222 255 241 187 140 110 108 2,069
Percent possible sunshine 56 54 56 48 48 57 65 64 56 47 48 52 55
Source: MeteoSwiss[23]

Lugano has a humid subtropical climate characterized by relatively mild winters, warm, damp summers and plentiful precipitation year-round, although winter is somewhat drier than the rest of the year. It has an average of 98.1 days of rain or snow per year and on average receives 1,559 mm (61.4 in) of precipitation. The wettest month is May during which Lugano receives an average of 196 mm (7.7 in) of rain, while the driest month of the year is February with an average of 52 mm (2.0 in) of precipitation over 4.6 days.[23]


Of the built up area, housing and buildings made up 9.4% and transportation infrastructure made up 3.0%. while parks, green belts and sports fields made up 1.2%. Out of the forested land, all of the forested land area is covered with heavy forests. Of the agricultural land, 0.5% is used for growing crops and 9.4% is used for alpine pastures. All the water in the municipality is in lakes.[22]

Based on the 1997 land survey, as of 2013 Lugano has a total area of 32.09 square kilometers (12.39 sq mi). Of this area, 3.25 km2 (1.25 sq mi) or 10.1% is used for agricultural purposes, while 6.73 km2 (2.60 sq mi) or 21.0% is forested. Of the rest of the land, 4.48 km2 (1.73 sq mi) or 14.0% is settled (buildings or roads), 0.04 km2 (9.9 acres) or 0.1% is either rivers or lakes and 0.12 km2 (30 acres) or 0.4% is unproductive land.

Because of the historical development of the city, incorporating some relatively distant suburbs but leaving other, nearer, suburbs as independent municipalities, the borders of the city are disparate. A large and sparsely populated section of the city is on the east bank of Lake Lugano and separated from the city by that lake. Similarly, the inner-urban but independent municipality of Paradiso is a near-enclave, totally surrounded as it is by the city and the lake of Lugano.[4]

The city centre is located on the lake shore just to the west of where the River Cassarate enters the lake. The city's waterfront forms a crescent around the bay between the Brè (925 m [3,035 ft]) and the San Salvatore (912 m [2,992 ft]) mountains.[4]

Lugano lies at the edge of Lake Lugano (Italian: Lago di Lugano or Ceresio), which is situated between the lakes Lago Maggiore and Lago di Como, south of the Alps. It lies at the heart of the Sottoceneri, that part of the canton of Ticino that lies south of the Monte Ceneri Pass.[4]

Cantina di Caprino, in the city but on the east shore of Lake Lugano
Lugano from Mt. Sighignola, showing the crescent of building around the bay


In June 2011, officials of the Israeli city of Yehud announced they would undertake a massive construction project to replicate Lugano's old square in the center of their city, to reinvigorate commerce and tourism. The replica will be replete with neoclassical columns and colonnades.[21]

In 1975, the Congress Center was built followed in 1978 by the new City Hospital. In 1963 the city acquired the land for the airfield Lugano-Agno, and the first scheduled flights was in 1980. At the beginning of the 21st century they began the Grande Lugano projects, including: the car tunnel Vedeggio-Cassarate, which started in 2005 and connects the A2 motorway with the neighborhood of Cornaredo, the creation of a new Kulturpol on the site of the former Grand Hôtel Palace and a convention and exhibition center in the area of Campo Marzio.[18]

Following the Second World War, and particularly during the 1960s and 70s, thanks to an abundant flow of capital from nearby Italy,[18] Lugano was the first host-city of Eurovision Song Contest(1956). Lugano experienced a period of exponential growth in banking activities which led to it placing itself as the third financial centre of Switzerland,[8][20] with over 100 banking institutions present in the town.[18] Trade, tourism and finance are the mainstays of the local economy. In 2000, nine-tenths of the workers were employed in the services sector, of which three-quarters are commuters, including many cross-border commuters (13% of the working population).

However, in 2004 the municipalities of Breganzona, Cureggia, Davesco-Soragno, Gandria, Pambio-Noranco, Pazzallo, Pregassona and Viganello were incorporated into the city. In 2008, they were followed by Barbengo, Carabbia and Villa Luganese. This, among other factors, resulted in a doubling of the population to 52,059 in 2006, of which over a third were foreigners.[18][19] In 2013 the municipalities of Bogno, Cadro, Carona, Certara, Cimadera, Sonvico and Val Colla were incorporated into the city.

From the mid-19th century to 1970 the city recorded constant population growth, especially between 1880 and 1910, when the population more than doubled. This increase was partly due to foreign nationals settling in Lugano (in 1870 18.7% of the population, 1910 43.6%) and people from other language areas of Switzerland (1870 1.4% of the population, 1910 6.9%). In the last three decades of the 20th century, the population fell slightly, despite the merger in 1972, of the municipalities of Castagnola and Brè-Aldesago. This reflected a trend to move away from the city to the suburban communities.[18]

Grand Hôtel Palace in 1928

Modern Lugano

Around 1830 new civic and government buildings began to emerge in Lugano. The city also began to expand into the surrounding hills, along the Cassarate, and toward Molino Nuovo, Paradiso and Castagnola. In 1843–44 the town hall was built on the site of the Bishop's Palace (built in 1346). It housed the cantonal government in 1845–51 and again in 1863–69. Since 1890, it has housed the city government. The promenade was built in stages: first part was in the 1870s, a second in the first decade of the 20th century. In the first decades of the 19th century, the roads that connect Lugano with Bellinzona (1808–12), Ponte Tresa (1808–20) and Chiasso (1810–16) were built. In 1848 the first steamboat on Lake Lugano began to operate, with regular, scheduled service since 1856. The construction of the Melide causeway between Melide and Bissone in 1844–47 favored the development of the Chiasso-Bellinzona-Lugano-Gotthard line at the expense of the north-south route along Lake Maggiore. This tendency for development was strengthened further in 1882 with the completion of the Gotthard railway line. The railway station was built in 1874–77 in Lugano, and transformed it into one of the main links between northern Italy and central and northern Europe, which led to the development of tourism and in general helped the services sector.[18]

The city government initially had eleven members, but in 1908 their number was reduced to five and in 2004 increased to seven. Throughout most of the 20th century, the Liberals held the absolute majority here as well. The rest of the municipal executive posts were held by the Conservatives, the Socialists (1944–48, 1976–80 and since 2000) and the Ticino League (since 1992).

In the 19th century, the city government was dominated by the Liberal Party. In 1900, slightly more than half of the seats on the city council (at the time 50 total members, but 60 members since 2004) were held by Liberals. Most of the rest of the seats were held by either Conservatives or Socialists.


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