Lugano is of ancient origins. The name “Lugano” is derived from the Latin common name lucus meaning “sacred wood” or simply wood. The origin of our City’s name is therefore linked to the designation of a settlement apparently characterised by its proximity to a wood.
The meaning of the four letters LUGA appearing on the City’s coat of arms has given birth to the most bizarre hypotheses. Some examples of the coat of arms can be found in San Lorenzo Cathedral, where the coat of arms is carved on a holy water stoup and on two bells. On the facade of Lugano’s Civic Building the planner, the architect Moraglia, added the City’s coat of arms to the decoration by substituting the red background with the bipartite red and blue: the colours of the Canton.
The history of the urban development of the city of Lugano can be subdivided into four phases. The medieval form lasted until the end of the eighteenth century. After the shift from the old to the new regime (1798-1847), the social scene changed, and the city expanded beyond the traditional urban circle of walls limited by the gates which were pulled down. There was a change from the old form of the fortified borough to the open form of the modern city.
From 1880 to 1910 the city experienced, especially after the opening of Gotthard’s railway line, an exceptional demographic increase. During those thirty years the population growth was almost 8000 inhabitants, going from 6949 to 14998 units.
The success of the hotel industry brought to Lugano a rich and cultivated bourgeoisie, especially from Germany and England. Tourism experienced difficult moments during the crisis of the thirties and during the two World Wars but has subsequently managed to adapt to the new reality and acquire a leading position as one of the most important and dynamic industries of the City. After only a few decades Lugano has become the third financial market in Switzerland. The financial sector has continued to expand even after the creation of the Euro and nowadays all the main Swiss and international banks that are involved in private banking operate in Lugano.
Tourism, finance and trade are therefore the leading sectors of the City’s economy, which, as a whole, guarantee more than 27000 jobs.
In the field of higher education training, mention must be made of the birth of the Università della Svizzera italiana with the three Faculties of Communication Sciences, Economics and Informatics based in Lugano.