Words by Igor Fardin
Photos by Roy Clavadetscher
Mr. Nice (Howard Marks) came to Lugano once. He stayed at hotel Splendide and described the city as the Rio de Janiero of Europe. Splendide is still there, so are the hills and the lake but Lugano has changed since and that is good because we got a skatepark and a bunch of other things that would make your stay enjoyable even if you’re not staying at Splendide Hotel and having breakfast looking at the lake.
First of all, we have a weird, green, kind of rough, copy of Marseille’s bowl and next to it a kinky street area which are the “heart” of Lugano scene. That is where you are going to meet everybody and if you go and talk to the people sitting on the blocks the rest of this Ticino scene text is useless. But in case you are a shy guy o got you covered.
Even though you should really try and talk to the people. Lugano being a small town scene, people are usually happy to share spot and help you out if they can. Or at least that is the way I was raised by the older skaters: the first generation of Warriors.
Warriors skateboard is small Swiss brand you might have heard of, but in Lugano is also a group of people that have been doing stuff within skateboarding for the last 20 years or so. There are different generation of “Warriors” and the guys you might meet are most likely the kids of the younger generation (people like Skianta and Gian), or our current local hero Martino and I can guarantee you that they are nice.
If you don’t find anybody at the skatepark or you arrive late in the evening try oops bar, you’ll probably get some help over there. There you might meet the older generation of Lugano skaters: Zep the owner of the bar and old school
skater, Yari Copt and other guys from the first generation of warriors. One guy you’re not going to meet is probably Rolly, local legend that we are not sure what is up to.
If you really don’t want to talk to the people there, here you go. If you don’t have a car the best thing to if you want to street skate is to go into the city centre, just cruise around, the city is very small anyway, and you might just find what you’re looking for. If you don’t I suggest you go to Piazza dei congressi where you can find some nice flatground, curbs and benches, and then follow the lake side until you get to LAC (the new city cultural building) which provide stairs and rails and also view of the lake that must really close to the one that Howard Marks had in front of his breakfast.
If you do have a car, you can do the same tour and then take your car and move to some other Cities, or actually towns. If drive south you’ll get to a lovely town called Mendrisio, a town of silk, wine and the crappiest mall in the region. But also a town with a group of motivated young guys that are getting stuff done. Thanks to those guys you can find a pumptrack and a small street skatepark around the Scuola Media (middle school).
Since you’re in Mendrisio now, it might be worth crossing the border, and go to Italy. Half an hour from Mendrisio there is a small city, kind of famous for furniture, called Cantù which is having a pretty sick DIY Park called La Boehme (check on their fb for opening hours, etc.). From there, if you feel like driving you can go to Milan and reach the beautiful white marble of the central station, it’s spots and it’s skateparks. Which is something we do every once in a while as Lugano locals.
But I am supposed to talk about Ticino, so let’s take the car drive back to Switzerland, back to Lugano and go north. North of Lugano you have Bellinzona, which you might remember for the 90’s ledge wizardly courtesy of the Kampfen brothers. Bluntslide to sw five-o it’s ABD (it’s the last trick on Guy Kampfen battalion part) but the ledges are still there and you can still have fun. Once you are done with the plaza, I would suggest an old-school cruise around town, I am sure you can find some other spots and if you don’t they have a skatepark, just google Bellinzona skate plaza.
Not far from Lugano you also have another nice skatepark in Ascona, as a side note not far from the skatepark you have Monte Verità, which is really worth a touristy visit.
If you’re thinking of spending a weekend in Ticino, this should be enough to give you a good skate time, if you want tips on a non-skateboarding good time, you’re probably reading the wrong magazine. For anything else go old school and talk to the people that is what a scene is for.