Lugano (/luːˈɡɑːnoʊ/, also UK: /lʊˈ-/, Italian: [luˈɡaːno]; Ticinese: Lugan [lyˈɡãː]) is a city in southern Switzerland in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino bordering Italy. It has a population (as of December 2018) of 63,185, and an urban agglomeration of over 145,000. The ninth largest Swiss city, it is the largest in Ticino and largest with an Italian speaking majority outside of Italy. The city lies on Lake Lugano, surrounded by the mountains of the Lugano Prealps. The eastern part of the city shares a border with Italy.
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, Louwerz. The local Lombard form of the name is rendered Lugan. The etymology of the name is uncertain, suggestions include derivation from Latin lucus ("grove"), from a vulgar Latin lakvannus ("lake-dweller") and from the god Lugus.
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.
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. 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. 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.
The first written mention of a settlement at Lugano can be found in documents, which are of disputed authenticity, 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.
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, 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.
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 therefore was 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.
Under the Helvetic Republic, Lugano became the capital of the 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".
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. 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.
After 1803, the political municipality of Lugano was created. One of the primary tasks of the new city government was to determine the division of property and authority between the patriziato and the new political municipality. Two agreements between the two organizations, in 1804 and 1810, began this process. In the second half of the 19th century, the political municipality received various properties and rights from the patriziato. Francesco Capra, the préfet during the Helvetic Republic, became the first mayor of Lugano from 1803 until 1813. The cantonal constitution of 1814, set Lugano, Bellinzona and Locarno as capitals of the Canton. They each served as the capital in a six-year rotation. Lugano was the capital in 1827–33, 1845–51 and 1863–69.
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.
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).
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 city 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.
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.
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. In 2013 the municipalities of Bogno, Cadro, Carona, Certara, Cimadera, Sonvico and Val Colla were incorporated into the city.
Following the Second World War, and particularly during the 1960s and 70s, thanks to an abundant flow of capital from nearby Italy, Lugano was the first host-city of the 1956 Eurovision Song Contest. Lugano experienced a period of exponential growth in banking activities which led to it placing itself as the third financial centre of Switzerland, with over 100 banking institutions present in the city. 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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Lugano has a rare humid subtropical climate (Köppen: Cfa) for the latitude, closely bordering on an oceanic climate (Köppen: Cfb) due to the warmer average being 22 °C (71.6 °F). Although the US National Academy of Sciences considers a sea-like climate, the vegetation is from the subtropics with deciduous forest. It is characterized by relatively mild winters and warm humid summers. 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.
Located on a plains in southern Switzerland and protected by the Alps and lakes, the climate is one of the mildest in the country, most similar to northern Italy. In addition, the precicipitation is lower than in many other places as well as the deviations of temperature. Lugano is also one of the sunniest Swiss cities. The greatest precipitates anticipate and succeed much of the summer. Winter freezing temperatures are more common on the night of January (between 27 and 28 days), but the low temperatures remains are rare and do not occur every year. Much of the summer is pleasant, but warm days above of the 30 °C (86 °F) are not uncommon (average of about 8 days).
The highest temperature recorded in Lugano is 38.0 °C (100.4 °F), recorded in July 1945, whilst the lowest temperature recorded being −14.0 °C (6.8 °F), recorded in February 1929.
Since its union with some surrounding municipalities in 2004 (Breganzona, Cureggia, Davesco-Soragno, Gandria, Pambio-Noranco, Pazzallo, Pregassona and Viganello), 2008 (Barbengo, Carabbia and Villa Luganese) and 2013 (Bogno, Cadro, Carona, Certara, Cimadera, Sonvico and Val Colla), Lugano has a population (as of December 2018) of 63,185 and is therefore Canton Ticino's largest city. The expansion in 2004 was the second major expansion after the union in 1972 with the municipalities of Brè-Aldesago and Castagnola. As of 2015, 38.1% of the population do not hold Swiss citizenship and 14,778 or 23.2% of the population was born in Italy. In 2013, 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.
The city's thriving economy provides an estimated 38,000 jobs, 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. With regards to intercommunal financial equalisation, thanks to its financial strength Lugano contributes significantly to the equalisation fund. The population is Italian-speaking and mainly Roman Catholic.
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%). 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.
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.
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%.
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.
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).
As of 2000, there were 23,168 private households in the municipality, and an average of 2. persons per household. 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).
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. 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. As of 2007, the construction rate of new housing units was 3.3 new units per 1000 residents.
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.
The population of the original city of Lugano (not including the municipalities added after 1972) is given in this chart:
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.
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%.
In the 2007 Grand Council of Ticino 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%).
In the 2007 Council of State of Ticino 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%).
Quarters 1–9 are the older quarters of the city, which have been added to by successive enlargements of the municipality in 2004, 2008 and 2013; these enlargements involved previously independent municipalities becoming quarters of Lugano.
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. 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 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. Of the working population, 15.2% used public transportation to get to work, and 44.6% used a private car.
As of 2009, there were 43 hotels in Lugano with a total of 1,584 rooms and 2,889 beds.
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.
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.
There are 17 sites in Lugano that are part of the Swiss heritage site of national significance. The city of Lugano, the districts 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.
The heritage sites of national significance include 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 San Lorenzo, Church of Santa Maria degli Angioli and the Church of San Rocco.
There were three museums; the Museo Cantonale d'Arte, the Museo cantonale di storia naturale di Lugano 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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
- 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
- San Rocco Church
- LAC (Lugano Art and Culture), the cultural centre dedicated to visual arts, music and performing arts
- Museo delle Culture (Museum of Cultures)
- MASI (Art Museum of Southern Switzerland)
- Foundation Aligi Sassu and Helenita Olivares
- Historical Museum
- Cantonal Museum on Natural History
- Swiss Customs Museum
- Municipal Art Museum
- Wilhelm Schmid Museum
- Hermann Hesse Museum
- Alprose Chocolate Museum (Chocoland)
Education and research
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 University of Applied Sciences).
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.
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). There were 492 vocational students who were attending school full-time and 722 who attend part-time.
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. As of 2000, there were 3,537 students in Lugano who came from another municipality, while 887 residents attended schools outside the municipality. 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.
Some of the schools and colleges in Lugano include:
- Università della Svizzera Italiana: This Swiss university, translated as "University of Italian Switzerland", is the home of the faculties of informatics, economics, and communication sciences.
- Swiss National Supercomputing Centre: an autonomous unit of ETH Zürich that focuses on high-performance computing.
- Dalle Molle Institute for Artificial Intelligence (IDSIA): a non-profit oriented research institute for artificial intelligence, affiliated with both the Università della Svizzera Italiana and SUPSI.
- Franklin University Switzerland: an American and Swiss accredited liberal arts college.
- The American School In Switzerland: an international secondary school.
- SUPSI: University of Applied Science of Southern Switzerland.
Lugano is served by Lugano Airport, in the nearby municipality of Agno. Currently, only Silver Air and Swiss Airlines operate to Lugano Airport. While there is limited service to Lugano's airport, Milan's airports are not that far away and provide access to a greater number of worldwide locations.
Lugano's railway station is situated on the historically and concurrently important Gotthard railway line, which links northern Switzerland with Ticino and Italy. Long distance trains of the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB CFF FFS), together with international trains of Trenitalia, connect Lugano with the cities of northern Switzerland and with southern Milan.
Since the inauguration of the Gotthard Base Tunnel in 2016 train connections between cities in Northern Switzerland, such as Zürich, Luzern and Basel, and cities in the south, such as Bellinzona, Lugano, and Milan got even closer – they almost entirely circumvent the Alps.
In the future, connections to Bellinzona and the northern Swiss cities will even further improve with the opening of the Ceneri Base Tunnel in 2020.
A two-hourly RegionalExpress RE connects Lugano with the local towns and villages on the historic Gotthard route with the northern ones on the other side of the Ceneri, such as Bellinzona and Biasca, where the fast trains enter the world's longest railway tunnel in order to underpass the Alps, and further up through the Valle Leventina up to Airolo and through the old Gotthard Tunnel (1,151 metres (3,776 feet)) to the German-speaking northern villages in Uri as far as Erstfeld.
The RegionalExpress RE10 connects Lugano and Chiasso with Milano Centrale railway station in addition to the international long-distance trains in order to provide a fast connection once every hour; sometimes prolonged upwards to Bellinzona and Airolo, or even Erstfeld.
Additionally, the metre gauge (3 ft 3 3⁄8 in gauge) Lugano-Ponte Tresa Railway (FLP) connects Lugano as the S60 from platform 11 outside the main building with the regional Lugano Airport and Ponte Tresa.
From April until mid October, the tourist oriented Gotthard Panorama Express connects Lucerne with Lugano once a day via boat on the Lake Lucerne and then per train over the historic Gotthard route through the old, 500 metres (1,600 ft) higher situated Gotthard Tunnel.
Lugano is also served by three funicular railways. The Funicolare Città–Stazione, which has recently been renewed, is a short line connecting Lugano railway station to the lower city centre at the lake, whilst the Funicolare Monte Brè and the Funicolare Monte San Salvatore ascend nearby hills to vantage points.
A fourth funicular, the Funicolare degli Angioli, still exists but has not operated since 1986.
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 districts of Davesco, Sonvico and the towns of Canobbio, Lamone and Tesserete, whilst the Società Navigazione del Lago di Lugano (SNL) runs buses to the district of Gandria and Campione d'Italia. TPL, ARL and SNL services operate from the Lugano Centro bus station. 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 railway station to St. Moritz. Other AutoPostale buses operate from an underground bus station and ticket office, located at Via Balestra 4 in the centre of Lugano.
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.
The Palazzo dei Congressi is the performing arts center for Lugano. It is a main venue for the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana.
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 MASI (Museo d'Arte della Svizzera italiana) 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 cantons of Ticino and Graubünden (Grigioni in Italian) and present artists from the region on a regular basis.
The district of Brè-Aldesago 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.
Hockey Club Lugano (HCL) plays in the National League (NL). 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.
FC Lugano plays in the Swiss Super 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. The Stadio Cornaredo is the largest stadium in Lugano, with space for 15,000 people. It hosted the Italy-Belgium match at the 1954 FIFA World Cup. According to some sources, Lugano is the smallest town ever to hold a world-cup match. 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. 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.
Lugano annually hosts the 20-kilometre (12 mi) racewalk Gran Premio Città di Lugano Memorial Albisetti and the Ladies Open Lugano, an International level WTA tennis tournament. The city hosted the 1953 and 1996 UCI Road World Championships, as well as the 18th Chess Olympiad.
- Giovanni Battista Trevano (c.1560–1644) an Italian-speaking architect who worked in Poland as royal architect
- Francesco Contin (1585–1654) a Swiss-Italian sculptor and architect
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- Carlo Giuseppe Plura (1663–1737) a Swiss-Italian stucco artist and sculptor
- Giovanni Maria Fontana (c.1670–after 1712) an Italian-Swiss architect, worked in Russia.
- Giacomo Zanetti (c.1696–1735) an Italian master builder and architect
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- Domenico Giambonini (1868–1956) a Swiss sport shooter, bronze medallist in the 1920 Summer Olympics
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- Duilio Arigoni (born 1928) a Swiss chemist, works on the biosynthetic pathways of many organic natural substances
- Tito Tettamanti (born 1930) a Swiss lawyer, politician, and entrepreneur
- Pietro Balestra (1935–2005) a Swiss economist specializing in econometrics
- Franco Ambrosetti (born 1941) a jazz trumpeter, flugelhornist and composer 
- Christian Giordano (born 1945) a Swiss anthropologist and sociologist
- Giorgio Giudici (born 1945) a Swiss architect and politician, Mayor of Lugano 1984–2013
- Romolo Nottaris (born 1946) a Swiss rock climber, mountaineer and author of documentary films
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- Georg Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza (born 1950), manager
- Luca Pianca (born 1958) a Swiss musician-lutenist whose specialty is archlute 
- Diego Fasolis (born 1958) a Swiss classical organist and conductor 
- Marco Borradori (born 1959) a Swiss lawyer and politician, Mayor of Lugano since 2013
- Mauro Gianetti (born 1964) a Swiss directeur sportif, former professional rider
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- Antonio Esposito (born 1972) is Swiss-Italian former footballer, 320 games
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- Alberto Regazzoni (born 1983) a footballer, over 440 games and 3 for the national side
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- Enrico Bignami (1844–1921) an Italian merchant and editor of La Plebe, a socialist newspaper
- Ferdinando Fontana (1850–1919) an Italian journalist, dramatist, poet and committed, passionate socialist
- Hans Kundt (1869–1939) a German military officer, the primary military figure of Bolivia
- Heinrich Thyssen (1875–1947) a German-Hungarian entrepreneur and art collector
- Hermann Hesse (1877–1962), author and philosopher, won the Nobel Prize in 1946
- Jurgis Šaulys (1879–1948) a Lithuanian economist, diplomat and politician; one of the twenty signatories to the 1918 Act of Independence of Lithuania
- Alfred Neumann (1895–1952) a German writer of novels, stories, poems, plays and films 
- Rudolf Caracciola (1901–1959), German racing driver
- Gustav Fröhlich (1902–1987) a German actor and film director 
- Ernst Marlier (1875–1948), German pharmaceutical manufacturer who built the Wannsee Villa, venue of the Wannsee Conference.
- Mariuccia Medici (1910–2012) an Italian-born Swiss actress on TV and in the theater 
- Mina (born 1940) (Anna Maria Mazzini) Italian singer 
- Steve Reid (1944–2010) an American jazz drummer and session drummer for Motown
- Robert Palmer (1949–2003) an English singer-songwriter, musician and record producer 
- Behxhet Pacolli (born 1951) former President of Kosovo, businessman with Mabetex Group
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- Johann Sebastian Paetsch (born 1964) an American cellist and musician
- Anna Kravtchenko (born 1976) a Ukrainian classical pianist with an international career
- Alberto Contador (born 1982), Spanish professional cyclist, winner of the Tour de France, Vuelta a España and Giro d'Italia
- Nicole Cooke MBE (born 1983) a Welsh former professional road bicycle racer, Commonwealth, Olympic and World road race champion