The Piazza della Reforma is Lugano’s main square and is an inviting place for tourists and locals to relax as they enjoy the many bistros and restaurants.
In 1798, Piazza Grande witnessed a battle between the Cisalpini and the Volontari Luganesi, who won Ticino’s independence from the central government established by Napoleon. One year later, in 1799, Piazza Grande staged another historical event: the massacre of Abbot Vanelli, editor of the Gazzetta di Lugano, a progressive newspaper printed at this square by typographer Agnelli.
Palazzo Civico, the seat of the city hall, was built only later, in the years 1842-1844. Due to its location in Piazza della Riforma, further political events took place here. Around 1870, under the Garini arcades, the conservatives made of the newly opened Caffè Federale their meeting place, where liberals clearly were least welcome.