Gandria is both a quarter of the city of Lugano in the Swiss canton of Ticino, and a village, on the northern shore of Lake Lugano. The historically protected center of the village of Gandria, which is also not accessible by car, attracts visitors from all over the world. Whilst roads now reach the outskirts of the village, many of these visitors arrive by boat services on the lake.
Church of Saint Vigilio
The Church of Saint Vigilio in Gandria was completed in 1463. The oldest part is the gray, unfinished wall facing the lake, adorned with memorials from well-known local families. The baroque facades were completed in the 1870’s. Behind the altar of the church is a large oil painting by Giovanni and Giuseppe Torricelli that shows the martyrdom of Saint Vigilio, a bishop of Trento in Italy, who was stoned to death by pagan shepherds.
The connection with Gandria comes from local artisans who worked on the construction of the cathedral in Trento, and were presumably impressed by the patron saint. The Torricelli brothers also painted scenes in the house of local architect Vigilio Rabaglio, who achieved fame by designing the Bourbon royal palace in Segovia in Spain. An archaeological guide to the area notes that stones with Celtic bowl-shaped indentations, carried there by villagers in past centuries, can be seen in the walls and on doorsteps around the Church of San Vigilio.
Swiss Customs Museum
On the opposite side of the lake to Gandria village, but still within the Gandria quarter, is the Swiss Customs Museum. This was once a border post on the adjacent border with Italy, but now forms part of the Swiss National Museum. The museum covers the history of smuggling in the area, and the work of customs officers to counteract it. In a modern context, it covers the work of the Swiss Federal Customs Administration and the Swiss Border Guard.
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