Story: Art in all colours, shapes and sizes

A cultural stroll through Lugano

The financial hub of southern Switzerland has been transformed into a cultural hotspot. The young curator and art historian Carlotta Rossi takes us around town to show off her favourite places.

From contemporary art in a historic palazzo, to a cute boutique with the work of local designers, to a kiosk on the lake where you can relax with a good book: Lugano is full of cultural surprises. Where should art lovers go? Curator Carlotta Rossi shows us her favourite places.

THE CHARACTER

Carlotta Rossi, Art curator

Carlotta Rossi, Art curator
Since LAC Lugano Art e Cultura opened in 2015, the city has really blossomed culturally, and interests me more and more.

“I like this place because art needs room to breathe in order to have the right effect,” says Carlotta Rossi of Spazio -1. Containing some 200 works from the collection of Giancarlo and Danna Olgiati, the exhibition space is located in the basement just next to LAC (Lugano Arte e Cultura).

Spazio -1 is one of curator Carlotta Rossi’s favourite places. She grew up in Como, studied art history and now lives in Lugano. She works for the Villa Pia museum, headquarters of the Lindenberg Foundation, is a coordinator with the ProMuseo association and gives tours in the LAC. Art is her life.

Together with Ticino designer Graziano “Kiko” Gianocca, she launched Project Artificio, in which she fills the display windows of Lugano’s high-end boutiques with the work of local designers once a year.

A number of these shops can be found along elegant Via Nassa. It’s here that Carlotta Rossi takes us into Nordisk, a haven for design connoisseurs. From handmade crockery to fine textiles, handbags and jewellery – everything has been artfully arranged.

“This is where I come when I’m looking for something really special.”

For me, Lido San Domenico is one of the most wonderful places in Lugano. It’s a fine spot to sip Ticino gazosa, browse through a book and a look out over the water. It’s like being on holiday.
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We take a water taxi to Lido San Domenico, where a kiosk called La Buvette was transformed last year by friends of Carlotta Rossi who are also art lovers.

“For me this is one of the most wonderful places in Lugano,” exclaims Rossi.

It’s a fine spot to sip gazosa, the local Ticino soft drink, nibble on a salami platter, browse through a book from the little library and gaze out over the water.

There’s also brunch at the weekend and occasional design exhibits and concerts. “It’s like being on holiday.”

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Back in the town centre, Carlotta Rossi takes us to Daniele Agostini’s newly inaugurated gallery on Via Cattedrale.

Agostini shows young, up-and-coming artists from Switzerland and abroad in the magnificent rooms of an old palazzo.

Then it’s on to Choisi, a destination for enthusiasts of offbeat art and photography books. “It’s rare for me to leave without making a purchase,” laughs Carlotta Rossi, adding that she always finds something new.

“It’s an amazingly creative place.”

Lugano, the stairs of Turba
Pro tip
The Cathedral of San Lorenzo – just around the corner from the Turba artists’ association – recently reopened following a seven-year renovation.
How about a day trip to Chiasso? Graphic design enthusiasts will find a mecca at the m.a.x. museo.
Each spring, Rossi’s “Artificio” art project places the work of local designers in the display windows of Lugano’s shops.

"Meet up in a beautiful old palazzo to talk about books, enjoy classical concerts or sample creative cocktails."

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The last stop on our cultural tour of Lugano is Turba, a self-described “association for cultural emancipation.”

A lovely old flat with stunning ceiling frescos, it offers a space to discuss books, take in a performance of classical music or poetry slams, not to mention enjoy creative cocktails.

Carlotta Rossi says, “This place is a work of art in itself.”

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