Società Navigazione del Lago di Lugano

The Società Navigazione del Lago di Lugano or Lake Lugano Navigation Company (SNL) is a Swiss company operating passenger services on Lake Lugano. The company also operates bus routes in the same area, and is based at Cassarate in the city of Lugano. It was formerly known as the Società di Navigazione e Ferrovie per lago di Lugano and at one time also operated railways in the area.[1][2]

Società Navigazione del Lago di Lugano
Founded1873 (current name: 1919)
Area served
Lake Lugano
Two of SNL's boats, alongside the Lugano Giardino landing stage in central Lugano.
One of SNL's buses, in central Lugano.

The passenger boats of the SNL principally provide services for tourist purposes, but they also connect Lugano with other lake-side communities, in both Switzerland and Italy, some of which have no road access. The bus services connect Lugano with Gandria and Campione d'Italia, both of which are also served by boat services.

SNL is a member of the arcobaleno tariff network, but only accepts arcobaleno tickets on its bus services and not on boat services. It also grants a 40% discount on all its fares to holders of arcobaleno season tickets.[3]


The Società di Navigazione e Ferrovie per lago di Lugano (SNF) was formed in 1873 to construct and operate a transport link from Menaggio, on Lake Como, to Luino, on Lake Maggiore, via Lugano. Although both ends of this link were in Italy, the company was created with Swiss finance, and registered in Lugano.[4]

Previous plans were to build a railway throughout, but difficulties in financing the proposal and the substantial engineering works that would be required, led to the revised plan which was eventually implemented. This involved the construction of two unconnected railways, both entirely located within Italy. The Menaggio–Porlezza railway and the Ponte Tresa–Luino railway [it] were linked by the use of steamboats, between Porlezza and Ponte Tresa on Lake Lugano, to form the desired through route.[4]

The outbreak of World War I lead to a considerable loss of traffic and financial problems, and the SNF decided to sell its railways and concentrate on operating its steamboat services on Lake Lugano. The lines were sold to the Società Varesina per le Imprese Elettriche (SVIE) in 1919. After the sale, the company changed its name to the Società Navigazione del Lago di Lugano.[2][5]

By 1926, the company was operating nine passenger steamboats on Lake Lugano, including six paddle steamers and three screw steamers, together with two cargo motor vessels. In 1927, the passenger motor vessel Lugano was introduced, and this vessel is still in service, having been renamed Milano in 1961. The last paddle steamers in the fleet were retired in 1962.[6][7]

In 1908, the shipping company Vedetta SA was formed by a group of Lugano hoteliers. They ordered five steel-hulled launches from Theodore Hitzler of Hamburg. The boats served various locations around Lugano bay. The company was merged into the SNL in 1944, and their earliest vessel, the Vedetta, is still owned by the SNL.[8]


The SNL operates a fleet of 11 motor vessels of various ages and sizes:[1][7][9][10][11][12]

Name Built in Passengers + Crew Length Width Max Speed Notes Image
SNL.1 1905 0+2 18.60 m (61.0 ft) 4.05 m (13.3 ft) 12.0 km/h (7.5 mph) Work boat
Vedetta 1908 40+1 11.00 m (36.09 ft) 2.68 m (8 ft 10 in) 12.0 km/h (7.5 mph)
Milano 1927 150+2 32.00 m (104.99 ft) 6.60 m (21.7 ft) 20.0 km/h (12.4 mph) Named Lugano until 1961
Ceresio 1931 240+2 31.35 m (102.9 ft) 6.28 m (20.6 ft) 21.8 km/h (13.5 mph) Named after an alternative name for Lake Lugano  
Lugano 1961 300+2 47.25 m (155.0 ft) 9.10 m (29.9 ft) 27.0 km/h (16.8 mph)  
Italia 1962 300+2 47.10 m (154.5 ft) 9.10 m (29.9 ft) 25.7 km/h (16.0 mph) Built by Bodan-Werft GmbH of Kressbronn  
Morcote 1977 220+2 28.26 m (92.7 ft) 6.00 m (19.69 ft) 21.0 km/h (13.0 mph)  
Paradiso 1978 220+2 28.26 m (92.7 ft) 6.00 m (19.69 ft) 19.8 km/h (12.3 mph)  
San Lorenzo 1987 60+1 17.20 m (56.4 ft) 4.35 m (14.3 ft) 18.7 km/h (11.6 mph)
Sant’Ambrogio 1988 60+1 18.00 m (59.06 ft) 4.35 m (14.3 ft) 18.5 km/h (11.5 mph)
San Gottardo 2001 300+2 41.80 m (137.1 ft) 7.80 m (25.6 ft) 25.6 km/h (15.9 mph)  

The company also operates a fleet of buses used on its bus services.[1][10]

The Ticino, a near sister ship to the Lugano and Italia, now serves as the Lord Nelson Pub, permanently moored on the lake in Porto Ceresio.[13]


The SNL operates several routes, both bus and boat. The following places are served, listed here in clockwise order around the lake shore from Lugano:[14]

Not all services serve all stops, nor are they necessarily served in the order presented above.

The SNL shipyard at Cassarate.
The SNL landing stage at the Museo Heleneum.


  1. ^ a b c "Our Fleet". Società Navigazione del Lago di Lugano. Archived from the original on 2012-03-14. Retrieved 2012-07-16.
  2. ^ a b "La Ferrovia Menaggio-Porlezza" [The Railway Menaggio Porlezza] (in Italian). Comune di Bene Lario. Archived from the original on 2017-05-30. Retrieved 2017-05-30.
  3. ^ "Le imprese di trasporto" [The transport companies] (in Italian). Comunità tariffale Ticino e Moesano. Archived from the original on 2012-07-27. Retrieved 2012-07-16.
  4. ^ a b "The Menaggio - Porlezza Railway 1884-1966 - Construction". Richard Marshall. Retrieved 2012-09-21.
  5. ^ "The Menaggio - Porlezza Railway 1884-1966 - The Train Service 1918-1939". Richard Marshall. Retrieved 2012-09-21.
  6. ^ "La navigazione sul lago di Lugano, Anastasi 1926" [Navigation on the Lake of Lugano, Anastasi 1926] (in Italian). Museo della Pesca di Caslano. Retrieved 2012-09-21.
  7. ^ a b "Piroscafi, motonavi e motor-yacht in funzione sul Ceresio" [Steamships, motorboats and motor-yacht running on Lake Lugano] (in Italian). Museo della Pesca di Caslano. Retrieved 2012-09-21.
  8. ^ "History". Stefano Butti. Retrieved 2012-10-15.
  9. ^ "Fleet". SNL. Archived from the original on 2012-09-26. Retrieved 2012-09-13.
  10. ^ a b "Tracce che ci appartengono" [Tracks that belong to us] (PDF) (in Italian). SNL. Retrieved 2012-09-13.
  11. ^ Orario 01.04.-21.10.2012. SNL. pp. 16–17.
  12. ^ "Our boats". SNL. Archived from the original on 2017-05-30. Retrieved 2017-05-30.
  13. ^ "Motonave". Lord Nelson Pub. Retrieved 2012-10-03.
  14. ^ "Timetable summer 2012". Società Navigazione del Lago di Lugano. Archived from the original on 2012-08-08. Retrieved 2012-08-30.

External linksEdit