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When I moved from Milano to Lugano last year I had kind of a cultural shock. Lugano is a nice little city, but at first sight doesn’t really have much to offer compared to Milan… But then, in one year I discovered some aspects of living here that made my day and some shops that are worth the trip.
First of all the lake and the mountains around are stunning when the weather is lovely and on a sunny day it looks very much like a holiday resort with people sitting at the tables outside the bars or running or skateboarding or just strolling along the lakeside.
As far as shopping expectations, Lugano can give you much more than you would expect: Via Nassa sports all the boutiques of the most renowned brands such as Prada, Gucci, Hermes, Louis Vuitton and so on. 
But the very best thing about shopping in Lugano is that you still can find those shops where a fashion-savvy owner has already scanned all and any item of clothes possibly available in that season and made a considered choice. My favourite is Tiziana Fausti (the Lugano branch of the historical Bergamo shop is in piazzetta Maraini corner to Via Nassa, http://www.tizianafausti.com) featuring one of the best selections ever including but not limited to Dries Van Noten, Marni, Massimo Alba, Stella Jean, Manolo Blahnik etc. etc.. Then come Blu, Nassadonna and Shuga (the three of them at Residenza Grand Palace in Piazza Bernardino Luini 2). Among those three Blu is probably the one I prefer (have a look at the Dior dresses and booties in their window), though they mostly have very pricey stuff. Nassadonna (www.nassadonna.com) and Shuga (www.shugalugano.com) are maybe a little duller but – on the other hand – have a considered choice of major and minor brands and, beside the usual worldwide renowned, top-of-the-crop designers, can also offer high quality clothes at more reasonable prices. 
Finally, if you have a soft spot for accessorises as I do and already miss Borsalino, drop in on Doria’s and try everything on, while if you’re a jewellery aficionado have a glance at Fortuny that appears to have kind of a penchant for oddities and sometimes puts up for sale some peculiar little things that get your money’s worth. 
Last but not least Dahraimo (contrada di Sassello 5) is kind of a concept store selling clothes, flowers, home decoration and the like. It’s not Colette, but it does the job and, on top of everything, they’re very nice and welcoming people.