Theme Week Ticino – Chiasso

Tuesday, 25 October 2022 - 12:00 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General
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San Vitale church © G2

San Vitale church © G2

Chiasso is a municipality in the district of Mendrisio in the canton of Ticino in Switzerland. As the southernmost of Switzerland’s municipalities, Chiasso is on the border with Italy, in front of Ponte Chiasso (a frazione of Como, Italy). The municipality of Chiasso includes the villages of Boffalora, Pedrinate and Seseglio. In 2007, the three mayors of Chiasso, Vacallo and Morbio Inferiore decided to unite into one commune. The new united commune with a population of ~15,300 people over a territory of 9.2 km² (3.6 sq mi), was rejected by the population in November 2007. Historically, Chiasso and Boffalora were two distinct agricultural villages. Due to the nearby Italian border and customs office, and later as part of an access route to the St. Gotthard’s Tunnel, the two villages merged and grew.

Chiasso’s history and development were strongly influenced by its unique location. In its early history, a castle was built in Chiasso as part of the extended fortifications of the city of Como. It was a suburb of Como, until 1416 when it was incorporated into the Pieve of Balerna and given to the Rusca family to manage. The houses in the village centre were owned by the Albrici family and were granted imperial privileges. Chiasso had become an independent community sometime before 1552. In the contemporary documents, it is mentioned as Clasio tabernarum (Chiasso of taverns) referring to its function as a transit point.

Boffalora is mentioned in 1536 as a municipality and kept its independence until the second half of the 17th Century. They became a single parish in either 1657 or 1677. Chiasso’s church belonged to the Pieve of Zezio (in Como), from which it withdrew in the 16th Century. In 1888, Boffalora separated from the parish. It became the seat of an archpriest in 1928. The Church of San Vitale, first mentioned in 1227, was rebuilt in 1934.

In the 15th century, Chiasso was known for its horse market. But the market ended after the invasion of the Swiss Confederation and the march through Chiasso in the War of the League of Cambrai in 1510. In the late 16th century, Chiasso had a smaller population than other municipalities of the Mendrisiotto valley. The village survived through its role as a border town (providing warehouses and inns) along with income from agriculture and paper mills. In the 19th Century, tobacco and silk factories moved into the town.

© Roland Zumbuehl/cc-by-sa-4.0 Border crossing and surrounding © Francesco PIRANEO G./cc-by-sa-3.0 Corso San Gottardo © G2 Customs at Chiasso towards Italy © Berger/cc-by-sa-3.0 San Vitale church © G2
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Border crossing and surrounding © Francesco PIRANEO G./cc-by-sa-3.0
The construction of the railway along with income from customs induced an economic and demographic recovery in Chiasso. In 1874 the railway line Lugano-Chiasso opened, followed in 1876 by one running to Como.

In 1910, the Mendrisio electric tramway opened, linking a northern terminus in Riva San Vitale with Capolago, Mendrisio, Balerna and Chiasso. The section of the line in Chiasso closed in 1950 and was replaced by a bus service.

Today, a large part of the town is devoted to Chiasso’s international railway station and related customs (though some of the border-control responsibilities have been moved to Como, in Italy). There is also a sizeable customs area for traffic passing by road and motorway (both commercial and non-commercial vehicles).

Chiasso offers also a lot of customs-related services. A considerable source of revenue for the town is Italians crossing the border to buy certain goods more cheaply in Switzerland, particularly cigarettes and petrol. It is also a banking centre for Italian clients wishing to keep money within the Swiss banking system.

Starting in 1950, Chiasso became an important financial centre and the economic centre of the Mendrisio region; hence rapid population growth. Since the 1980s, however, population and jobs, especially in the service sector, have shifted into neighbouring communities.

Here you can find the complete Overview of all Theme Weeks.

Read more on MySwitzerland.com – Chiasso, Wikivoyage Chiasso and Wikipedia Chiasso. Learn more about the use of photos. To inform you about latest news most of the city, town or tourism websites offer a newsletter service and/or operate Facebook pages/Twitter accounts. In addition more and more destinations, tourist organizations and cultural institutions offer Apps for your Smart Phone or Tablet, to provide you with a mobile tourist guide (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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