Living in Ticino
Living in Ticino
Travel opens the mind, we know that. The comparison to other cultures, traditions and ways of life, it gives a new look to oneself that helps to get to know ourselves better, to grow and enrich infinitely, so precious opportunities for those who welcome them.

Arriving in a new country always raises many questions about bureaucracy matters and more! "SUPSI Welcome guide" has been designed specifically to help foreign faculty members and students, as well as teachers and students on a mobility program, who just arrived in Switzerland, to disentangle offices, forms and new habits.

You can download it under Further information on the right.

Information about living in Switzerland at study in switzerland+

Land of culture, tradition and immense historical heritage, geographically located south of the Alps, Ticino is the Swiss Canton with the most strongly Mediterranean disposition.
Shaped like an upside-down triangle, it is embedded into neighbouring Italy, with which the Canton shares its official language, Italian, as well as part of its history.

The four regions of Ticino, from north to south are: Bellinzona and Upper Ticino, Lake Maggiore and Valleys, Lake Lugano, Mendrisiotto.


Recording an average of more than 2,300 hours of sunshine per year, Ticino is known for its agreeable weather: protected by the Alpine chain, and with a temperate climate, the area enjoys mild winters and typically Mediterranean summers. Ticino is the region with the richest vegetation in Switzerland: the land is teeming with vineyards – particularly Merlot grapes – and there are even some olive trees in the sunniest areas. The valleys, on the other hand, are dominated by chestnut, hazelnut and walnut trees, and Alpine conifers, together with beech, oak and pine groves.

Cost of living in Ticino

Standard costs:

Espresso coffee:  CHF 2.50
Pizza and soft drink: CHF 20.-
Hairdresser: women, from CHF 70. - ; men, from CHF 30.-
Cinema ticket: CHF 17.-
Milk (1L): CHF 1.20
Bread (1kg): CHF 4.-
Rent for studio apartment: CHF 800.-
Rent for room in shared apartment: CHF 650.-
Rent for 50 m2 apartment: from CHF 1200.-

These prices are merely indicative and may vary depending on the location. Rents in the outskirts are usually cheaper than those in city centres.

How to get around

Image How to get around

Public transport
An Arcobaleno travel pass allows you to move around Ticino and Moesano freely, using a range of different modes of public transport, such as trains, city buses, regional buses, boats (consult the conditions specified by the navigation companies).

PubliBike is a bicycle hire service operating in some towns in Canton Ticino. Bicycles are available at automatic docking stations, in operation 24 hours a day. Once you have completed your journey, you can leave the bicycle at a different docking station.

Sustainable mobility
SUPSI pursues a policy of sustainability, inviting its staff and students to use public transport and forms of sustainable mobility. In order to foster these good practices, SUPSI promotes a number of different initiatives, including: grants for annual Arcobaleno pass purchases, shuttle bus service, electric bicycles available for staff who need to move between different SUPSI centres, and encouraging car sharing.

Driving a car
In Switzerland you must be 18 years old before you are legally permitted to drive a car. This is also the minimum age for obtaining a driving licence. Before the end of their first year of residence in Switzerland, car drivers from abroad must replace their original driving licence with a Swiss driving licence.

Traffic is on the right side of the road, and the rule is to give right of way to the right. The speed limit on motorways is 120km/h, on dual carriageways 100km/h, on cantonal highways 80km/h, in towns 50km/h and, in certain residential areas, 30km/h or 20 km/h.

The blood alcohol limit when driving is 0.5 per thousand, except for newly qualified drivers, whose blood alcohol levels must be close to 0 per thousand, which may be ascribable to the consumption of some foodstuffs, such as fruit, for example, which can increase blood alcohol levels slightly.

Seat belts must be worn on both front and back seats, and mobile phones must not be used while driving.

Lugano-Agno Airport, approximately 7 km from Lugano, operates both national and international flights.
The nearby Milano-Malpensa and Milano-Linate airports are also reasonably close.

Services and opening/closing times

Shops are usually open Monday to Friday, 8.30 to 18.30 (some close at lunchtime), and on Thursdays they stay open until 21.00. Closing times on Saturdays are generally earlier, 17.00, although this may vary depending on the type of shop and the season.
All shops are closed on Sundays, except for special occasions.
Some large stores, small local shops and petrol stations have special licences allowing them to stay open until late in the evening, on Sundays and on holidays.

Post Offices provide a range of services, such as sending letters and parcels, selling stamps, payment services and financial services. The costs for sending letters and parcels vary depending on the shape, weight and speediness of the chosen delivery option.

Banks are usually open Monday to Friday, 9.00 to 16.30/17.00, except for holiday periods.

Pharmacies usually observe the same opening/closing hours as all other commercial enterprises.  At weekends and holidays, and in the evenings, service is guaranteed by an on-duty rota system.
To find the on-duty pharmacy in your area, go to:

Exhibitions and events

Ticino offers many fantastic opportunities to pursue cultural and artistic interests: cinema, art-house cinema, theatre seasons, music and dance performances, museums, art and culture festivals, sector-specific fairs, folkloristic shows and many other unmissable events.
Thursday is the best day of the week for those looking for nightlife: shops remain open until 21:00, so you can go shopping by starlight, and enjoy the tempting aperitifs offered by shopkeepers.

To ensure that you don’t miss anything, here is a short list of the main events and activities in the course of the year, some recently established and others traditional:

  • February– Carnival
  • May – Wine Cellar Open Day
  • June / July –Festival of pop, rock, jazz and classical musical, held in city centre locations
  • August – Locarno Film Festival
  • September / October– Grape Festival, Chestnut Festival and Autumn Festival
  • December – Christmas Markets and other events

Museums, art and architecture

Image Museums, art and architecture

The area between Chiasso and Airolo has approximately 70 museums and art galleries, illustrating more than 1,500 years of art. Monuments and art works, contemporary buildings, and small, but exquisite country churches weave the history, architecture and art of Ticino into the natural beauty and landscape of the area.

There are even two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Castles of Bellinzona and Monte San Giorgio.

TIP: all museums in Lugano are free of charge on the first Sunday of every month.


The cantonal libraries of Mendrisio, Lugano, Locarno and Bellinzona allow you to consult and order documents (both library and non-library documents), and to attend cultural events (conferences, study days, conventions, etc.) promoted in collaboration with other bodies or institutions.

Each SUPSI department and affiliate school has its own reference library, with a wide range of books and periodicals – available in paper format and some also in electronic format - related to the various SUPSI study areas. These centres also provide multimedia tools and numerous spaces for individual study.
Library services can be accessed by SUPSI students and staff, and also by external users.


Image Cuisine

Ticino cuisine is related closely to Lombardy cuisine, and, like all regional gastronomic traditions, is the product of a continuous process finely balanced between developing new ideas and maintaining old-style recipes, using traditional and natural products to prepare simple dishes strongly linked to the rural world, and giving preference to tasty flavours.

The most well-known and best-loved dishes from Ticino cuisine include minestrone, pumpkin soup, busecca (tripe soup), risotto, roast meat (rabbit, goat) stewed or casseroled, polenta with mortadella or braised meat, river or lake fish, and last, but not least, cheeses. Local cakes and desserts are excellent: tortelli (sweet fritters), bread cake and amaretti (almond biscuits).

Beverages include the popular lemonade, red, white and rosé wines, and grappa and ratafià (also known as nocino), a walnut-based liqueur.

Interesting fact
“Grotti”, quintessentially Ticino structures, are simple restaurants, usually located in shady, out-of-the-way areas.  
They were our grandparents’ “refrigerators”, now transformed into restaurants open to the public, and usually furnished with granite benches and tables for eating outside. They are synonymous with home cooking, and provide simple, local dishes like those mentioned above. Wine is usually served in a traditional ceramic jug or cup.