Episode 75: Lugano Region - the Swiss Region with Italian Flair
Podcast Episodes

Episode 75: Lugano Region – the Swiss Region with Italian Flair

June 28, 2023 Last Updated on August 20, 2023

In this episode of the Holidays to Switzerland Travel Podcast we’re heading south to the Italian-speaking Canton of Ticino to learn all about the beautiful Lugano Region.

This part of Switzerland is a very popular destination for the Swiss.  In fact, there’s a saying in Switzerland that if the weather is bad north of the Alps, head south to Ticino where you’re almost always guaranteed sunshine.

It’s surprising then, that the Lugano Region isn’t visited by more international tourists. With a moderate, some say Mediterranean, climate, stunning scenery and so much to see and do, it truly offers something for everyone as I discovered on my first visit to the region last year.

My guest today is Daniela Gugliotta Bagaian from Lugano Region Tourism. Daniela is going to tell us more about this beautiful part of Switzerland that combines Swiss efficiency with Italian charm.

You’ll learn about the most important sites and most popular things to do in the region, charming villages to visit, local specialities to try, the many cultural and sporting events that take place throughout the year, and so much more.

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Show Notes

In this episode you’ll learn about:

  • Canton of Ticino and Lugano Old Town
  • Things to do in Lugano
  • Lakes and parks in Lugano
  • Mountain excursions around Lugano
  • Towns and villages around Lake Lugano
  •  What kind of public transport passes are available
  • Which local cuisine you should try
  • How to reach Lugano
  • Local secrets of Lugano

Our Guest

Daniela Gugliotta Bagaian from Lugano Region Tourism
Daniela Gugliotta Bagaian

Daniela Gugliotta Bagaian is the Director of Marketing at Lugano Region.

Places and landmarks mentioned in this episode

LAC Lugano Arte e Cultura – LAC Lugano Arte e Cultura is the City of Lugano’s cultural centre. Looking out onto the lake, opened its doors in 2015. Its stunning architecture, designed by Ticinese Ivano Gianola, has given the city a new face. Today is a reference venue for lovers of the visual, stage and musical arts, offering a wide variety of concerts, exhibitions, theatrical plays, dance performances and meetings and a program packed with activities for the family.

MUSEC – Museum of Culture – Historic Villa Malpensata by the water is a cultural museum showcasing photography, contemporary and children’s art. There’s also a collection of notable works from the Orient housed at MUSEC. 

Hermann Hesse Museum – The museum is dedicated to the German poet, painter, and novelist. This museum can be found in the Camuzzi Tower, which is next to the Casa Camuzzi, where many of Hesse’s works were created.

Bally Foundation – Housed in Villa Heleneum, a pink 1930s palazzo on Lake Lugano, the Bally Foundation provides a space in Lugano that’s devoted to contemporary art. The restored three floor villa is as much a work of art as what’s exhibited within. 

Santa Maria degli Angeli – The best-known Renaissance fresco in Switzerland can be found at this church in Lugano. It once formed part of a Franciscan monastery. This jaw-dropping, dramatic fresco covers the entire wall of the nave. 

Via Nassa – Elegant Via Nassa is lined with smart shops, and is Lugano’s most appealing retail thoroughfare. Here you can buy clothes, accessories, jewellery, foodie items and antiques. There are some upscale boutiques to be found here too. 

Via Pessina – Via Pessina in Lugano is at the heart of life in this Italianate Swiss city. It’s a hub for the sale of fresh produce, unique boutiques and some of the best cafes in Lugano. Grand Café Al Porto has the most distinguished pedigree of all, and boasts stunning decor, a superb selection of pastries and a list of celebrity clients.  

Lugano Switzerland
The tower of Lugano’s Cattedrale di San Lorenzo watches over the city and lake.
Piazza Riforma, Lugano’s main square, is pretty as a picture, bordered by pastel-hued buildings.
Piazza Riforma, Lugano’s main square, is pretty as a picture, bordered by pastel-hued buildings.

Via Cattedrale – A steep hill in central Lugano close to the Cattedrale di San Lorenzo. The incline is lined with interesting shops and galleries, and intriguing, secret corners. Since the late 19th century, a cable car has been installed here to make the ascent easier. 

Parco Ciani – Parco Ciani in Lugano is regarded as one of the most scenic of all Swiss parks. This lovely green space is a short distance from the centre and offers flowers, fountains, statues and trees. To cap it all, it’s positioned by the lake and has manicured, English-style lawns. 

Parco San Michele – The slope of Monte Brè is where you can find San Michele park. Central Lugano, the Lido and the lake can all be seen from this elevated, peaceful spot. Stone sculptures, the San Michele chapel and an attractive mix of trees only add to the appeal. 

Parco San Grato in Carona – Parco San Grato is a botanical garden in Carona, close to Lugano. A range of beautiful Swiss flora, Lake Lugano views and outdoor art installations make this a very relaxing place to be.  

Monte Bré – Monte Bré is a sun-drenched slope located at more than 900 metres above sea level. There’s a pair of restaurants here with lakeview terraces, and from here you can see Monta Rosa plus the Bernese and Pennine Alps. Monte Bré also offers picnic spots, an art trail, playgrounds and a cable car. 

Monte San Salvatore – Monte San Salvatore dominates the skyline above Lugano. The Ristorante Vetta here has a terrace with lake views, and you can take a trip on the funicular to reach the summit. There are plenty of attractions for outdoor and nature lovers too. 

Monte Tamaro – The Lugano – Bellinzona – Locarno triangle is where you can find Monte Tamaro, a lofty spot offering views of snow-capped peaks and glimmering lakes. Sporting, adrenaline-inducing and play facilities make this a fun place to be. There’s also hiking trails and thermal pools at the Rivera cable car station. 

Villa Ciani is located in Parco Ciani and overlooks Lake Lugano.
Villa Ciani is located in Parco Ciani and overlooks Lake Lugano.
The church of Santa Maria degli Angeli features a stunning Renaissance fresco.
The church of Santa Maria degli Angeli features a stunning Renaissance fresco.

Monte Lema – In the Lugano region, Monte Lema seems like one of those places where time stands still. Here you can encounter Alpine pastures and Scottish cows, stumble upon a disused tin mine and enjoy views over Lake Maggiore. Restaurant Vetta allows visitors to sample Swiss cuisine, and you can also hike, take a cable car ride, mountain bike or hang-glide here. 

Gandria – At the base of Monte Brè and on the shores of Lake Ceresio, Gandria is a compact, traditional fishing village with a 16th century church and a selection of grotti serving local Ticinese cuisine. 

Morcote – Variously described as the Pearl of the Ceresio or Switzerland’s most beautiful village, Morcote features aristocratic architecture, intimate streets and lush, subtropical flora. Baroque architecture and nature also await. 

Carona – Positioned around 600 metres above sea level, Carona is a very pretty place where artists, painters, sculptors and architects have certainly made a very favourable impression. The parish church here also features the painted coats of arms of the dozen original cantons of Switzerland.  

Swissminiatur at Melide – Switzerland on a far smaller scale awaits at Swissminiatur. The 14,000 square metre park boasts small-scale models of the country’s best-loved landmarks. A miniature railway stretching for over 3.5 kilometres also reflects the real-life Swiss transport system.  

Morcote is regarded as one of the most beautiful villages in Switzerland.
Morcote is regarded as one of the most beautiful villages in Switzerland.
View of Bre village and Lake Lugano from Monte Bre.
An excursion to Monte Bre will reward you with stunning views.

Other interesting topics discussed in this episode

Società di Navigazione del Lago di Lugano – this forward-thinking lake navigation company has introduced and started to operate the first electric boat in Switzerland.

Ticino Ticket – This ticket allows visitors to fully explore Switzerland’s most southerly canton with one pass. Holders are entitled to free use of public transport, plus discounted entry to tourist attractions. Mountain railway and boat trip tickets are also available at reduced rates. Overnight guests staying in hotels, youth hostels and camping grounds in Ticino receive the Ticino Ticket free of charge.

For details about festivals and events in Lugano Region, click here.

Useful Resources

A great general guide to all the Lugano Region has to offer is supplied by the website of the same name. Discover the Lugano area here.

The social media channels of the Lugano Region can also whet your appetite in advance of visiting Switzerland. Find them on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook

You can also find more on what to do in Lugano here. Alternatively, listen to the Bernina Express and Ticino Tourism podcast episodes for more information on the area. 

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This episode is sponsored by Switzerland Tourism

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