Terreno in Ticino

In ancient times, the area of what is today Terreno in Ticino was settled by the Lepontii, a Celtic tribe. Later, probably around the rule of Augustus, it became part of the Roman Empire. After the fall of the Western Empire, was ruled by the Ostrogoths, the Lombards and the Franks. Around 1100 it was the centre of struggle between the free communes of Milan and Como: in the 14th century it was acquired by the Visconti, Dukes of Milan. In the fifteenth century the Swiss Confederates conquered the valleys south of the Alps in three separate conquests.

Between 1403 and 1422 some of these lands were already annexed by forces from the Canton of Uri, but subsequently lost. Uri conquered the Leventina Valley in 1440.[3] In a second conquest Uri, Schwyz and Nidwalden gained the town of Bellinzona and the Riviera in 1500.[3] Some of the land and Bellinzona itself were previously annexed by Uri in 1419 but lost again in 1422. The third conquest was fought by troops from the entire Confederation (at that time constituted by 12 cantons). In 1512 Locarno, the Maggia Valley, Lugano and Mendrisio were annexed. Subsequently, the upper valley of the Ticino River, from the St. Gotthard to the town of Biasca (Leventina Valley) was part of Uri. The remaining territory (Baliaggi Ultramontani, Ennetbergische Vogteien, the Bailiwicks Beyond the Mountains) was administered by the Twelve Cantons. These districts were governed by bailiffs holding office for two years and purchasing it from the members of the League.[3]

Ticinese franco, currency of Ticino until the introduction of the Swiss franc in 1850.
Stone house inValle Verzasca

The lands of the canton of Ticino are the last lands to be conquered by the Swiss Confederation. The Confederation gave up any further conquests after their defeat at the battle of Marignano in 1515 by Francis I of France. The Val Leventina revolted unsuccessfully against Uri in 1755.[3] In February 1798 an attempt of annexation by the Cisalpine Republic was repelled by a volunteer militia in Lugano. Between 1798 and 1803, during the Helvetic Republic, the districts of Bellinzona and Lugano were separate cantons, but in 1803 the two were unified to form the canton of Ticino that joined the Swiss Confederation as a full member in the same year.[3] During the Napoleonic Wars, many Ticinesi (as was the case for other Swiss) served in Swiss military units allied with the French. The canton minted its own currency, the Ticino france, between 1813 and 1850, when it began use of the Swiss franc.

In the early 19th century, Ticino was the poorest of the cantons of Switzerland. According to the contemporary Franco-Danish scholar Conrad Malte-Brun, "in no part of Switzerland is there more poverty, bordering on wretchedness, so much idleness, and so little industry".[4] Until 1878 the three largest cities, Bellinzona, Lugano and Locarno, alternated as capital of the canton. In 1878, however, Bellinzona became the only and permanent capital. The 1870-1891 period saw a surge of political turbulence in Ticino, and the authorities needed the assistance of the federal government to restore order in several instances, in 1870, 1876, 1889 and 1890-1891.[5]

The current cantonal constitution dates from 1997. The previous constitution, heavily modified, was codified in 1830, nearly 20 years before the constitution of the Swiss Confederation.[6]


Mar 4, 2013