Based on the warm Mediterranean temperatures, pretty lakes surrounded by quaint villages, palm trees and main language being Italian, have you ever wondered why is Ticino part of Switzerland? and not Italy?
Well, I’ve thought this too! Read on to see a short but sweet summary of why Ticino is part of Switzerland and not part of Northern Italy.
Where Is Ticino?
Let’s start with some local geography!
Ticino is one of the 26 Switzerland cantons, located in Southern Switzerland, bordering Italy at the very the South. The main capital of the canton is Bellinzona, with other big cities in the canton including Lugano and Ascona.
Ticino borders with 3 other Swiss cantons; Valais, Uri and Grisons.
Reaching Ticino is fairly easy, with direct trains from cities such as Milan, Italy and Zurich, Switzerland heading straight to it with stops at Lugano and Bellinzona. When driving to Ticino, the main highway from the North passes through the famously known Gotthard-Strassentunnel – which is 16.9 kilometres in length. It’s one of the most popular roads for those travelling south to Italy from Northern Europe.
History of Ticino
The canton has a long and complex history from what we understand. The status as part of Switzerland can be traced back to a series of historical events and political developments.
During the Middle Ages, Ticino was part of the Duchy of Milan, which was at the time a powerful city-state in northern Italy. However, in the late 15th century, the Swiss Confederation, began expanding their territory southward and had caught up to Southern Switzerland that we know now it as. In 1512, they conquered the city of Lugano, which became part of the Swiss Confederation.
Over the next few centuries, Ticino remained under Swiss control, although it was also subject to French and Austrian occupation at different times. In the 19th century, Ticino was one of the founding cantons of the modern Swiss federal state, which was established in 1848.
Get inspired with all our local Ticino posts directly here!
Present Day Ticino
Today, Ticino is an important part of Switzerland, known for its beautiful scenery, Mediterranean climate, and Italian-influenced culture. We’re personally a big fan that we even decided to move here in 2022, and we have been enjoying aperol spritz, pizzas and pastas as much as possible.
We’ve experienced how Ticino is for all seasons, and we sure do notice how busy it can get with tourists from the German speaking cantons of Switzerland come down for some sunshine. Of course there are also many others that also visit Lugano and surrounding areas. There is so much to do that it’s quite a fun place to visit after all!
These days, Ticino has also developed a distinct identity as part of Switzerland, with its main language being Italian, different cuisine, different public holidays and local traditions and events.
One thing to highlight in present day Ticino’s is the prime position on the border between Switzerland and Italy. This makes it an important location for trade and commerce, such as the busy border crossing of Chiasso. We’ve passed through the border many times when heading to Milan, Como and Milan Malpenza airport.
One fun fact you might not know about Ticino yet, is that there is actually a small area called Campione d’Italia that is 100% Italian, inside of the Ticino canton. This is an area on the lakeside of Lake Lugano, which has its own legal system and follows Italian law, despite being surrounded by Switzerland. You can read more about this specifically on our other post.
Here are some of the beautiful locations we have already experienced in Ticino: