In ancient times the lands of Ticino were inhabited by Leponti, Celtic peoples. They were then annexed to the Roman Empire and became part of Raetia.
During the Middle Ages followed the events of the nearby Lombardy, with the invasions of the Ostrogoths, Lombards and Franks. Then they became the theater of the wars between the Communes of Como and Milan and were finally conquered in the mid-fourteenth century by the Dukes of Milan, the Visconti, followed by the Sforza. In 1182 the valleys of Blenio and Leventina signed the Pact of Torre, swearing mutual assistance and anticipating the Pact of Grütli of 1291, the founding act of today's Switzerland.
Later, the region was gradually occupied by the Swiss cantons, which aimed at controlling the Alpine passes, especially the St. Gotthard. In 1512 the territory of the current Canton Ticino was divided into eight municipalities administered by the confederated cantons, which in 1798 were annexed to the Helvetic Republic, then dismantled in 1803 by Napoleon Bonaparte, who transformed it into a Confederation of 19 cantons.
In 1798 elements of the Cisalpine Republic landed by surprise in Lugano but met the resistance of the Volontari del Borgo, a guard corps formed among the local population. A convulsive day of clashes followed at the end of which the Cisalpines, despite an initial success, were pushed back. The more open-minded elements of the Luganese bourgeoisie took advantage of the events to achieve the longed-for independence of the town under the motto of "Free and Swiss". With the Act of Mediation of February 19, 1803, the Emperor elevated to the rank of sovereign cantons even territories that had been subordinates such as Ticino.
Since 1878, Bellinzona has been the sole and permanent capital. Throughout the nineteenth century the Canton suffered from a serious economic backwardness that was expressed in a strong emigration to European countries and overseas. Only with the rise of tourism, the opening of the Gotthard railway and the first industrialization at the beginning of the 1900s did the situation begin to change. In the second half of the twentieth century, the canton established itself as an important financial and service center as well as a tourist destination. The founding of the University of Lugano in 1996 was the crowning achievement of this economic and cultural growth.
Ticino's economy today is mainly composed of small and medium-sized enterprises. Most of the active population is employed in the tertiary sector (banking, insurance, commerce, tourism, administration), a third in industry and only 2% in agriculture
Territorial characteristics of the Canton of Ticino
The Canton of Ticino takes its name from the Ticino River which flows through it, from its source in Val Bedretto, Passo della Novena, to Lake Maggiore in Locarno and then continues in Italy to Pavia where it flows into the Po River. Canton Ticino, together with Canton Graubünden, is the main canton where Italian is spoken.
It quotes the Constitution: "the Canton of Ticino is a democratic Republic of Italian culture and language" to which is added an important preamble that clarifies its closeness to Italy and its Italian nature "the people of Ticino are faithful to the historic mission of interpreting Italian culture in the Swiss Confederation".
The mild climate, the subtropical vegetation, the configuration of the territory, the urban centers, the gastronomy, the culture, the history and the Italian language distinguish the Canton of Ticino from the rest of Switzerland. The only canton located entirely south of the Alps, along its 100 km are concentrated all types of European vegetation, from lichens on the Alps to agaves and palm trees on the shores of lakes. It consists of two main geographical areas separated by Monte Ceneri: the Sopraceneri has an alpine conformation and is crossed by the upper course of the Ticino river; the Sottoceneri has instead prealpine characteristics and includes within it the enclave of Campione d'Italia.
Land of Italian culture but politically Swiss, the Canton is a modern and dynamic region crossed by important European rail and freeway transit axes, and easily accessible by air. Ticino is at the center of the so-called Regio Insubrica, bordering Italy and the cantons of Valais, Uri and Grisons. It is officially called the Republic and Canton of Ticino, the official language is Italian and the capital is Bellinzona. Together with four Italian-speaking valleys in Graubünden, it makes up Italian-speaking Switzerland. It has an area of 2,812 km2 , or 6.8% of the entire surface area of Switzerland, and about 350,000 inhabitants.