Mendrisio - Church of Mendrisio
Church of Mendrisio
Country Switzerland Coat of Arms of Mendrisio
Canton Ticino
District Mendrisio
45°52′N 8°59′E / 45.867°N 8.983°E / 45.867; 8.983Coordinates: 45°52′N 8°59′E / 45.867°N 8.983°E / 45.867; 8.983
Population 11,561 (Dec 2009)[1]
- Density 988 /km2 (2,559 /sq mi)
Area  11.7 km2 (4.5 sq mi)
Elevation 354 m (1,161 ft)
Postal code 6850
SFOS number 5254
Localities Arzo, Capolago, Genestrerio, Rancate, Salorino, Tremona
Surrounded by Castel San Pietro, Coldrerio, Genestrerio, Novazzano, Melano, Meride, Riva San Vitale
Profile (Italian), SFSO statistics
Mendrisio is located in Switzerland
View map of Mendrisio

Mendrisio is a municipality in the district of Mendrisio in the canton of Ticino in Switzerland.

Mendrisio is the seat of the Accademia di Architettura of the university of Italian speaking Switzerland (USI).

The municipality was boosted in size on 4 April 2004 when it incorporated the former municipality of Salorino. On 5 April 2009 it incorporated the former municipalities of Arzo, Capolago, Genestrerio, Rancate and Tremona.[2]



Mendrisio is first mentioned in 793 as Mendrici.[3]

Some thirty graves, tombs and grave stones, as well as coins from the Roman Republic and Roman Empire and the remains of a villa near the Church of S. Maria indicate that this area was settled throughout the Roman era. Powerful Langobard families made Mendrisio into a regional power, at the expense of the old power center, Balerna. By 1140 Mendrisio was an independent municipality in the county of Seprio. It was ruled by city of Como from 1170 until 1335. Following the victory of Milan over Como, it was ruled by the Milanese Visconti. The Visconti ruled until 1402, when a victory by Como brought Mendrisio back under that city. In the 15th Century, it became a fief held by the Rusca and Sanseverino families.[3]

During the Middle Ages a number of secular buildings, including several massive towers, were built in the town between the Porta San Giovanni and the river Moree. On the hill on the other side of the river, the Torriani family built a castle, which was destroyed in the Late Middle Ages. Under the Swiss Confederation's rule, it became the capital of the bailiwick of Mendrisio. Starting in the 17th Century, the governor of the bailiwick took up residence in the Palazzo Rusca.[3]

The population of the town divided into three separate groups, the nobles or nobili, the burghers or borshesi and the newcomers or divisi. The divisi was a class of residents that did not have full citizenship rights in the town. They were made up of tenants, new residents and their decedents. While the divisi had rights and access to the commons, their rights were restricted.[4] The population of Mendrisio remained divided into three classed until the end of the old village cooperative (vicinia) in 1798.[3]

Well before 1000, the Church of Mendrisio formed a nearly independent church district, under the mother church of Balerna. In the 15th Century, it broke away completely from Balerna. In the town itself there were the two parishes, SS Cosma e Damiano and S. Sisinio. The present parish church of SS Cosma e Damiano was built in the classicist style in 1863-75, above the foundations of a baroque style church from 1672. The church of S. Sisino is in the district of La Torre. Other churches in the town include the churches of S. Martino and S. Nicolau. The Order of Humiliati ran the hospice of St. John and maintained a monastery in the district Ferrera, starting in 1268. The Servite Order moved in 1477 from La Torre to S. Giovanni. There, they set up a house to feed pilgrims. After 1644, they opened a boys' school in the S. Giovanni monastery. In 1852 the school became a cantonal gymnasium. In the 17th Century the Ursulines settled in Caslaccio and the Capuchins settled to the south of town. The monasteries of all these orders were secularized in the 19th Century.[3]

In modern times the town has grown over the Moree bridge and out around the country estates and farms. Along the river paper mills, mills and breweries were built. Then, in 1873 the Torriani-Bolzani spinning mill opened. By the end of the 19th Century it employed about 350 workers (mainly women and children). In the second half of the 19th Century, the population doubled within 60 years. The town grew toward the south with the magnificent villas and the Hospital Beata Vergine and north towards the Cantine. The local sharecropping agriculture collapsed during this time, but the construction of the railway led to the emergence of a second diversified industrial center along the railway line. After World War II the industrial zone expanded into the Prati di S. Martino.[3]

In the south of the town several important public buildings were built. In 1898 the Neuro-psychiatry Clinic opened, and in 1944, the market hall and new schools. In 1996, the Faculty of Architecture of the Università della Svizzera italiana opened. Between the train station and the old town, next to residential buildings, numerous service sector businesses opened. In 2000, these offered more than three-quarters of the jobs. That same year, more than half of the residents of Mendrisio were commuters away from town, while the commuters coming in represented two-thirds of the workforce in Mendrisio. Almost two-fifths of workers were cross-border commuters.[3]



Mendrisio has an area, as of 1997, of 11.71 square kilometers (4.52 sq mi). Of this area, 1.74 km2 (0.67 sq mi) or 14.9% is used for agricultural purposes, while 3.16 km2 (1.22 sq mi) or 27.0% is forested. Of the rest of the land, 2.59 km2 (1.00 sq mi) or 22.1% is settled (buildings or roads), 0.03 km2 (7.4 acres) or 0.3% is either rivers or lakes and 0.05 km2 (12 acres) or 0.4% is unproductive land.

Of the built up area, industrial buildings made up 2.8% of the total area while housing and buildings made up 10.2% and transportation infrastructure made up 7.7%. Out of the forested land, 24.9% of the total land area is heavily forested and 2.0% is covered with orchards or small clusters of trees. Of the agricultural land, 3.5% is used for growing crops, while 1.2% is used for orchards or vine crops and 10.2% is used for alpine pastures. All the water in the municipality is flowing water. Of the unproductive areas, and .[5]

The municipality is the capital of the Mendrisio district. It is located on the slopes of Monte Generoso. In 2004, it absorbed Salorino and in 2009, it added Arzo, Capolago, Genestrerio, Rancate und Tremona.

Coat of arms

The blazon of the municipal coat of arms is Gules a cross argent.[6]


House in Arzo village

Mendrisio has a population (as of December 2009) of 11,561.[1] As of 2008, 23.5% of the population are resident foreign nationals.[7] Over the last 10 years (1997–2007) the population has changed at a rate of 4.8%.

Most of the population (as of 2000) speaks Italian (87.5%), with German being second most common (4.8%) and French being third (1.4%).[8] Of the Swiss national languages (as of 2000), 285 speak German, 78 people speak French, 5,369 people speak Italian, and 8 people speak Romansh. The remainder (406 people) speak another language.[9]

As of 2008, the gender distribution of the population was 47.5% male and 52.5% female. The population was made up of 4,309 Swiss men (37.3% of the population), and 1,186 (10.3%) non-Swiss men. There were 4,942 Swiss women (42.7%), and 1,124 (9.7%) non-Swiss women.[10]

In 2008 there were 56 live births to Swiss citizens and 8 births to non-Swiss citizens, and in same time span there were 57 deaths of Swiss citizens and 12 non-Swiss citizen deaths. Ignoring immigration and emigration, the population of Swiss citizens decreased by 1 while the foreign population decreased by 4. There were 2 Swiss men who emigrated from Switzerland and 1 Swiss woman who immigrated back to Switzerland. At the same time, there were 55 non-Swiss men and 27 non-Swiss women who immigrated from another country to Switzerland. The total Swiss population change in 2008 (from all sources, including moves across municipal borders) was an increase of 7 and the non-Swiss population change was an increase of 9 people. This represents a population growth rate of 0.2%.[7]

The age distribution, as of 2009, in Mendrisio is; 986 children or 8.5% of the population are between 0 and 9 years old and 1,069 teenagers or 9.2% are between 10 and 19. Of the adult population, 1,337 people or 11.6% of the population are between 20 and 29 years old. 1,574 people or 13.6% are between 30 and 39, 1,865 people or 16.1% are between 40 and 49, and 1,414 people or 12.2% are between 50 and 59. The senior population distribution is 1,446 people or 12.5% of the population are between 60 and 69 years old, 1,099 people or 9.5% are between 70 and 79, there are 771 people or 6.7% who are over 80.[10]

As of 2000 the average number of residents per living room was 0.58 which is about equal to the cantonal average of 0.6 per room. In this case, a room is defined as space of a housing unit of at least 4 m2 (43 sq ft) as normal bedrooms, dining rooms, living rooms, kitchens and habitable cellars and attics.[11] About 27.2% of the total households were owner occupied, or in other words did not pay rent (though they may have a mortgage or a rent-to-own agreement).[12]

As of 2000, there were 2,992 private households in the municipality, and an average of 2.1 persons per household.[8] In 2000 there were 431 single family homes (or 43.1% of the total) out of a total of 1,000 inhabited buildings. There were 403 multi-family buildings (40.3%), along with 97 multi-purpose buildings that were mostly used for housing (9.7%) and 69 other use buildings (commercial or industrial) that also had some housing (6.9%). Of the single family homes 20 were built before 1919, while 31 were built between 1990 and 2000. The greatest number of single family homes (162) were built between 1946 and 1960.[13]

In 2000 there were 3,049 apartments in the municipality. The most common apartment size was 3 rooms of which there were 934. There were 185 single room apartments and 584 apartments with five or more rooms. Of these apartments, a total of 2,736 apartments (89.7% of the total) were permanently occupied, while 248 apartments (8.1%) were seasonally occupied and 65 apartments (2.1%) were empty.[13] The vacancy rate for the municipality, in 2008, was 1.28%.[8] As of 2007, the construction rate of new housing units was 5.5 new units per 1000 residents.[8]

As of 2003 the average price to rent an average apartment in Mendrisio was 873.89 Swiss francs (CHF) per month (US$700, £390, €560 approx. exchange rate from 2003). The average rate for a one room apartment was 491.07 CHF (US$390, £220, €310), a two room apartment was about 646.96 CHF (US$520, £290, €410), a three room apartment was about 806.94 CHF (US$650, £360, €520) and a six or more room apartment cost an average of 1544.67 CHF (US$1240, £700, €990). The average apartment price in Mendrisio was 78.3% of the national average of 1116 CHF.[14]

The historical population is given in the following chart:[3][15]

Heritage sites of national significance

Rancate village

Mendrisio is home to a number of Swiss heritage sites of national significance. The list includes three churches; the Church of S. Sisinio alla Torre, the Church of S. Martino, and the complex of S. Giovanni, which includes a convent, the Church of S. Giovanni and the Oratory of S. Maria. There are six stately houses or palaces on the list; the Croci House, the Dei Pagani Tre Buchi House, Palazzo Pollini, Palazzo Torriani, Villa Argentina and the Villa and mosaics of S. Maria in Borgo. The rest of the list consists of the Pinacoteca cantonale Giovanni Züst or Giovanni Züst Art Galley and the Tremona archeological site.[16]


Mendrisio is known in Italian as il magnifico borgo (the magnificent town) due to its numerous elegant historical buildings. For two decades the town has had a pioneering role in promoting electric cars. The city's surroundings are the main wine-growing regions in Canton Ticino.

The city is also known for its typical Good Friday procession, when a live recreation of Christ's passion is enacted (without any blood or violence), and also for the grape festival (called Sagra dell uva) which takes place in late September.


In the 2007 federal election the most popular party was the CVP which received 37.58% of the vote. The next three most popular parties were the FDP (27.5%), the SP (13.6%) and the Ticino League (9.24%). In the federal election, a total of 2,738 votes were cast, and the voter turnout was 59.3%.[17]

In the 2007 Gran Consiglio election, there were a total of 4,635 registered voters in Mendrisio, of which 3,292 or 71.0% voted. 63 blank ballots and 6 null ballots were cast, leaving 3,223 valid ballots in the election. The most popular party was the PPD+GenGiova which received 1,012 or 31.4% of the vote. The next three most popular parties were; the PLRT (with 868 or 26.9%), the SSI (with 440 or 13.7%) and the PS (with 422 or 13.1%).[18]

In the 2007 Consiglio di Stato election, 46 blank ballots and 10 null ballots were cast, leaving 3,236 valid ballots in the election. The most popular party was the PPD which received 1,010 or 31.2% of the vote. The next three most popular parties were; the PLRT (with 837 or 25.9%), the PS (with 501 or 15.5%) and the SSI (with 401 or 12.4%).[18]


2009 UCI Road World Championship

Cycling's 2009 UCI Road World Championships was held in Mendrisio from 23–27 September 2009. Cadel Evans who himself lives in Mendrisio district with his family won the Gold medal of the men's event.


As of 2007, Mendrisio had an unemployment rate of 3.23%. As of 2005, there were 48 people employed in the primary economic sector and about 17 businesses involved in this sector. 3,787 people were employed in the secondary sector and there were 133 businesses in this sector. 4,919 people were employed in the tertiary sector, with 538 businesses in this sector.[8] There were 2,665 residents of the municipality who were employed in some capacity, of which females made up 43.5% of the workforce.

In 2008 the total number of full-time equivalent jobs was 9,032. The number of jobs in the primary sector was 20, of which 18 were in agriculture and 2 were in forestry or lumber production. The number of jobs in the secondary sector was 4,494, of which 4,055 or (90.2%) were in manufacturing and 373 (8.3%) were in construction. The number of jobs in the tertiary sector was 4,518. In the tertiary sector; 1,240 or 27.4% were in the sale or repair of motor vehicles, 126 or 2.8% were in the movement and storage of goods, 322 or 7.1% were in a hotel or restaurant, 96 or 2.1% were in the information industry, 185 or 4.1% were the insurance or financial industry, 275 or 6.1% were technical professionals or scientists, 334 or 7.4% were in education and 1,266 or 28.0% were in health care.[19]

In 2000, there were 10,078 workers who commuted into the municipality and 1,394 workers who commuted away. The municipality is a net importer of workers, with about 7.2 workers entering the municipality for every one leaving. About 33.4% of the workforce coming into Mendrisio are coming from outside Switzerland, while 1.4% of the locals commute out of Switzerland for work.[20] Of the working population, 10.3% used public transportation to get to work, and 56.4% used a private car.[8]

As of 2009, there were 12 hotels in Mendrisio with a total of 239 rooms and 502 beds.[21]


From the 2000 census, 4,982 or 81.1% were Roman Catholic, while 279 or 4.5% belonged to the Swiss Reformed Church. There are 665 individuals (or about 10.82% of the population) who belong to another church (not listed on the census), and 220 individuals (or about 3.58% of the population) did not answer the question.[9]


In Mendrisio about 65.6% of the population (between age 25-64) have completed either non-mandatory upper secondary education or additional higher education (either university or a Fachhochschule).[8]

In Mendrisio there were a total of 1,651 students (as of 2009). The Ticino education system provides up to three years of non-mandatory kindergarten and in Mendrisio there were 278 children in kindergarten. The primary school program lasts for five years and includes both a standard school and a special school. In the municipality, 485 students attended the standard primary schools and 19 students attended the special school. In the lower secondary school system, students either attend a two year middle school followed by a two year pre-apprenticeship or they attend a four year program to prepare for higher education. There were 405 students in the two year middle school and 4 in their pre-apprenticeship, while 178 students were in the four year advanced program.

The upper secondary school includes several options, but at the end of the upper secondary program, a student will be prepared to enter a trade or to continue on to a university or college. In Ticino, vocational students may either attend school while working on their internship or apprenticeship (which takes three or four years) or may attend school followed by an internship or apprenticeship (which takes one year as a full-time student or one and a half to two years as a part-time student).[22] There were 105 vocational students who were attending school full-time and 157 who attend part-time.

The professional program lasts three years and prepares a student for a job in engineering, nursing, computer science, business, tourism and similar fields. There were 20 students in the professional program.[23]

As of 2000, there were 1,096 students in Mendrisio who came from another municipality, while 155 residents attended schools outside the municipality.[20]

Mendrisio is home to the Università della Svizzera Italiana library. The library has (as of 2008) 141,291 books or other media, and loaned out 26,915 items in the same year. It was open a total of 270 days with average of 62 hours per week during that year.[24]

Notable people


  1. ^ a b Swiss Federal Statistical Office, MS Excel document – Bilanz der ständigen Wohnbevölkerung nach Kantonen, Bezirken und Gemeinden (German) accessed 25 August 2010
  2. ^ Amtliches Gemeindeverzeichnis der Schweiz, Mutationsmeldungen 2009 / Répertoire officiel des communes de Suisse, Mutations 2009 / Elenco ufficiale dei Comuni della Svizzera, Mutazione 2009 (Report). Federal Statistical Office. 2009. 2770. Retrieved 6 March 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Mendrisio in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.
  4. ^ Divisi in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.
  5. ^ Altitudine, superficie, secondo il genere di utilizzazione, rilevazione 1992/1997, e densità della popolazione, nel 2000 (Italian) accessed 25 October 2010
  6. ^ Flags of the accessed 01-February-2011
  7. ^ a b Swiss Federal Statistical Office - Superweb database - Gemeinde Statistics 1981-2008 (German) accessed 19 June 2010
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Swiss Federal Statistical Office accessed 01-February-2011
  9. ^ a b Popolazione residente, secondo la lingua principale e la religione, nel 2000 (Italian) accessed 23 November 2010
  10. ^ a b 01.02.03 Popolazione residente permanente (Italian) accessed 23 November 2010
  11. ^ Eurostat. "Housing (SA1)" (pdf). Urban Audit Glossary. 2007. p. 18. Retrieved 12 February 2010. 
  12. ^ Urban Audit Glossary pg 17
  13. ^ a b Federal Statistical Office STAT-TAB - Datenwürfel für Thema 09.2 - Gebäude und Wohnungen (German) accessed 28 January 2011
  14. ^ Swiss Federal Statistical Office-Rental prices 2003 data (German) accessed 26 May 2010
  15. ^ Swiss Federal Statistical Office STAT-TAB Bevölkerungsentwicklung nach Region, 1850-2000 (German) accessed 29 January 2011
  16. ^ "Kantonsliste A-Objekte:Ticino" (in German). KGS Inventar. Federal Office of Civil Protection. 2009. Retrieved 12 July 2010. 
  17. ^ Swiss Federal Statistical Office, Nationalratswahlen 2007: Stärke der Parteien und Wahlbeteiligung, nach Gemeinden/Bezirk/Canton (German) accessed 28 May 2010
  18. ^ a b Elezioni cantonali: Gran Consiglio, Consiglio di Stato (Italian) accessed 23 November 2010
  19. ^ Swiss Federal Statistical Office STAT-TAB Betriebszählung: Arbeitsstätten nach Gemeinde und NOGA 2008 (Abschnitte), Sektoren 1-3 (German) accessed 28 January 2011
  20. ^ a b Swiss Federal Statistical Office - Statweb (German) accessed 24 June 2010
  21. ^ Settori alberghiero e paralberghiero (Italian) accessed 23 November 2010
  23. ^ Allievi e studenti, secondo il genere di scuola, anno scolastico 2009/2010 (Italian) accessed 23 November 2010
  24. ^ Swiss Federal Statistical Office, list of libraries (German) accessed 14 May 2010

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