Lugano, Cattedrale di San Lorenzo. Photo/Foto: TES

The Churches, Chapels and Towers of Tessin

The churches and chapels of Tessin (Ticino) are among the many charms of southern Switzerland. The many religious buildings, old and new, including by Mario Botta, the Romanesque churches and chapels and their frescoes at the foot of the southern side of the Alps, hint at a different, ancient culture.

Vaglio, San Antonio di Padova

Near Ligornetto

Near Bigorio

They are all beautiful, without exception, as the inhabitants of this region have always been excellent architects and builders and have also contributed to the construction of some of the most significant and most beautiful buildings in Italy, think Rome, Milan or Florence. Like all buildings in this country, rich in stone but poor in wood, the churches and chapels have always been built of stone.

Locarno, San Antonio

Locarno, San Francesco

From the Luini murals in Lugano to the unknown mountain chapels, everywhere in the churches of Tessin, one can find a painting, fresco, altar relief, baptismal font, and stucco figure that testifies to the intimate connection with the culture of Italy and the talent and feeling for fine arts. (After Hermann Hesse, ‘Kirchen und Kapellen’ in F. Schläpfer, Tessin fürs Handgepäck (Zurich 2016).

It is incredible how many variations can arise from the simple basic shape of the bell tower. The bell tower should also be seen separately from its religious function: as the focal point of the village, community and landscape.

Bell towers are among the most striking features of the canton. Campanile towers from the Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance or Baroque periods can be seen everywhere (According to Piero Bianconi, ‘Glockentürme’ in F. Schläpfer, Tessin fürs Handgepäck (Zurich 2016).

There is only a little to add to these descriptions by writers and connoisseurs of Tessin except to experience it for yourself.


Ascona, San Pietro e San Paulo

Ascona, Santa Maria della Misericordia

Bellinzona, St. Pietro e Stefano

Morcote, Maria del Sasso

Lugano, Convento Santa Maria degli Angioli

Lugano, Cattedrale di San Lorenzo