The city of Bellinzona and its agglomeration has 42,000 inhabitants, which ranks it 12th in Switzerland. Bellinzona is the capital of the canton of Ticino in Switzerland, situated in a dale squeezed between St. Gotthard, St. Bernardino and Lukmanier passes. This is where the government and parliament of the canton of Ticino and the Federal Criminal Court are located. The city is also home to the Cantonal School of Commerce (SCC), the Higher School of Economics and the Higher School of Hotel and Tourism Industry, attended by students from the canton of Ticino. Bellinzona benefits from the economic development of the entire canton and houses a medical research institute. Over centuries, the city has experienced turbulent events that have led its inhabitants to protect themselves from invaders. The medieval historical centre is fortified, among others, by the castles of Castelgrande, Montebello and Sasso Corbaro, listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 2000.
Although a part of Switzerland, the Italian-speaking Bellinzona and Ticino have something of Lombardy in them. Many employees from Italy have settled here. The mild climate is perfect for palms, while the Saturday market in Piazza Nosetto offers sun-filled Ticino fruit, local cheeses, traditional sausages and pastry. From architectural point of view, the old town in Bellinzona is distinguished by the austere beauty typical of the nearby Lombardy, but is also adorned with cosy streets and squares, small yards and old residences with undeniable charm. As a starting point of excursions to Valle Leventina and Valle di Blenio, the capital of the canton of Ticino is eagerly visited by tourists. Finding a place to stay in Bellinzona is easy, and property prices are lower than in the rest of Switzerland. The cuisine here does not differ much from the one of Ticino or Lombardy, with osso bucco, polenta risotto and Merlot wines from vineyards surrounding the city.