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The Ticino Canton  Lugano is the chief city of this canton, though not the capital (Bellinzona is the capital). This canton is the one Italian-speaking one in Switzerland (try Italian phrases, not German), and is Catholic.

Climate  Less Alpine, more Mediterranean. After all, Ticino juts into Italy. Alpine chalets give way to pastel houses with orange-tile roofs. Down in warm valleys you can even see palm trees (the only ones growing naturally in Switzerland). Exotic flowers, too.

Though fourth in size, Ticino is tenth in population among Swiss cantons. It's not quite as popular as the others, so roads are a little less crowded, hotels also, and prices tend to be lower than in, say, Lucerne or Geneva.

Lake Lugano  Most of it is in Switzerland, but some of it crosses over into Italy. Thus, by boating on the lake, you can seesaw back and forth between the two countries without a passport! Total length: 22 miles. Maximum depth: 900 feet (don't fall overboard).

Town of Lugano  Lugano is of scenic rather than historic or cultural interest: its mountain views are some of the most famous in Switzerland. Visitors come to Lugano to make excursions to three nearby lakes: Lake Lugano itself, Lake Maggiore, and Lake Como. All sorts of special festivals make for lively entertainment.

Origins and Development  This area is one of the oldest inhabited areas of Switzerland. Originally, a tribe known as the Ligurians had a settlement on the lake (5th century B.C.). Then came the Romans; well-to-do Roman families would spend their summers here; built villas, all of which have vanished. During the Middle Ages, the area was dominated by Como (town just over the Italian border), a major trading city. Gradually the area became associated with the Swiss Confederation, though much rivalry among Swiss cities for trading privileges made for political turmoil and warfare. By 1803, Lugano joined with two other cities — Locarno and Bellinzona — to form a new Swiss canton, Ticino. By the mid-19th century, tourists started earring, and they haven't stopped coming.


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