An Upper Paleolithic Ax made out of serpentinite, and some cremation graves from the Iron Age are the only prehistoric traces discovered in Massagno. The village of Massagno is first mentioned in 1146 as Masagnio. In 1198 it was mentioned as Maxanio.
The Vicinanza of Massagno emerged from the villages of Massagno and Gerso, and during the Middle Ages it was part of the Pieve of Lugano. During the 9th and 10th Centuries, the Cathedral of S. Lorenzo in Lugano seems to have owned individual farms and houses in the village, and in 1198 it was the main landholder. At the same time, the Kastlanei Sonvico owned some estates. In 1262 the hospital of St. Mary of Lugano acquired some estates as well, which were sold in 1739 to the Luvini family in Massagno. In 1329, the provost of the Humiliati monastery of S . Antonio in Lugano bought land in the village. Then, in the 14th Century, the Bishop of Como acquired the right to tithe in Massagno and land in Gerso.
Historically, Massagno was part of the Lugano parish. Between 1920 and 1927, together with Rovello, it formed one of Luganos five rettorati. After 1927 it was an independent parish without Rovello. The parish church of S. Lucia, which dates back to about 1530, was rebuilt in 1931 in the romanesque revival style. The Chapel of St. Anthony of Padua in Gerso is from 1655–70 and was restored in 1983. It was built by a member of the Solari family from Gerso, who had made his fortune in the wool trade in Venice. The chapel of Madonna della Salute was built in 1710 in fulfillment of a vow from 1636, when the municipality was hit by the plague. It was consecrated in 1729 and renovated in 1975.
Between 1815-30, the main road into the village was built. Between 1879-80 an excavation for a railway line led to strong population growth as workers (especially from Italy) migrated to Massagno for work. The strong population growth of the 1960s transformed Massagno, which had previously lived on agriculture and the seasonal migration, into a residential community with brisk construction activity. In 2000, about three quarters commuted out of town for work. The school complex was built in 1970-71.
Massagno has an area, as of 1997, of 0.73 square kilometers (0.28 sq mi). Of this area, 0.56 km2 (0.22 sq mi) or 76.7% is used for agricultural purposes, while 0.01 km2 (0.0039 sq mi) or 1.4% is forested. The rest of the land, 0.16 km2 (0.062 sq mi) or 21.9% is settled (buildings or roads).
Of the built up area, housing and buildings made up 76.7% and transportation infrastructure made up 21.9%. while parks, green belts and sports fields made up 1.4%. Out of the forested land, all of the forested land area is covered with heavy forests. Of the agricultural land, 0.0% is used for growing crops and 76.7% is used for alpine pastures.
The municipality is located in the Lugano District, in the north-western agglomeration of Lugano. It consists of the village of Massagno the settlement of Gerso and, since 1804, part of the former municipality of Rovello.
The blazon of the municipal coat of arms is Azure a chestnut three vert fructed gules a core and eradicated or issuant from a mount of the second in chief a sun in splendor and in base of the first two line invected argent. The tree refers to the location of the village, on top of a hill, surrounded by chestnut trees.
Massagno has a population (as of December 2015) of 6,209. As of 2008, 38.6% of the population are resident foreign nationals. Over the last 10 years (1997–2007) the population has changed at a rate of 2%.
Most of the population (as of 2000) speaks Italian (78.0%), with German being second most common (6.6%) and Serbo-Croatian being third (5.4%). Of the Swiss national languages (as of 2000), 369 speak German, 127 people speak French, 4,334 people speak Italian, and 7 people speak Romansh. The remainder (721 people) speak another language.
As of 2008, the gender distribution of the population was 45.9% male and 54.1% female. The population was made up of 1,563 Swiss men (26.4% of the population), and 1,152 (19.5%) non-Swiss men. There were 2,048 Swiss women (34.6%), and 1,155 (19.5%) non-Swiss women.
In 2008 there were 31 live births to Swiss citizens and 24 births to non-Swiss citizens, and in same time span there were 40 deaths of Swiss citizens and 13 non-Swiss citizen deaths. Ignoring immigration and emigration, the population of Swiss citizens decreased by 9 while the foreign population increased by 11. There were 8 Swiss men who emigrated from Switzerland and 4 Swiss women who immigrated back to Switzerland. At the same time, there were 53 non-Swiss men and 50 non-Swiss women who immigrated from another country to Switzerland. The total Swiss population change in 2008 (from all sources, including moves across municipal borders) was an increase of 35 and the non-Swiss population change was an increase of 104 people. This represents a population growth rate of 2.4%.
The age distribution, as of 2009, in Massagno is; 486 children or 8.2% of the population are between 0 and 9 years old and 513 teenagers or 8.7% are between 10 and 19. Of the adult population, 691 people or 11.7% of the population are between 20 and 29 years old. 897 people or 15.2% are between 30 and 39, 960 people or 16.2% are between 40 and 49, and 741 people or 12.5% are between 50 and 59. The senior population distribution is 682 people or 11.5% of the population are between 60 and 69 years old, 578 people or 9.8% are between 70 and 79, there are 370 people or 6.3% who are over 80.
As of 2000, there were 2,685 private households in the municipality, and an average of 2.1 persons per household. In 2000 there were 181 single family homes (or 33.5% of the total) out of a total of 541 inhabited buildings. There were 60 two family buildings (11.1%) and 219 multi-family buildings (40.5%). There were also 81 buildings in the municipality that were multipurpose buildings (used for both housing and commercial or another purpose).
The vacancy rate for the municipality, in 2008, was 0.67%. In 2000 there were 3,029 apartments in the municipality. The most common apartment size was the 3 room apartment of which there were 979. There were 292 single room apartments and 378 apartments with five or more rooms. Of these apartments, a total of 2,677 apartments (88.4% of the total) were permanently occupied, while 278 apartments (9.2%) were seasonally occupied and 74 apartments (2.4%) were empty. As of 2007, the construction rate of new housing units was 10.2 new units per 1000 residents.
The historical population is given in the following chart:
The D’Appartamenti Albairone House is listed as a Swiss heritage site of national significance.
In the 2007 federal election the most popular party was the CVP which received 39.16% of the vote. The next three most popular parties were the SP (16.45%), the FDP (15.72%) and the Ticino League (14.25%). In the federal election, a total of 1,556 votes were cast, and the voter turnout was 50.7%.
In the 2007 Gran Consiglio election, there were a total of 3,098 registered voters in Massagno, of which 1,892 or 61.1% voted. 24 blank ballots and 4 null ballots were cast, leaving 1,864 valid ballots in the election. The most popular party was the PPD+GenGiova which received 620 or 33.3% of the vote. The next three most popular parties were; the PS (with 279 or 15.0%), the LEGA (with 273 or 14.6%) and the PLRT (with 268 or 14.4%).
In the 2007 Consiglio di Stato election, 18 blank ballots and 8 null ballots were cast, leaving 1,867 valid ballots in the election. The most popular party was the PPD which received 619 or 33.2% of the vote. The next three most popular parties were; the LEGA (with 384 or 20.6%), the PS (with 305 or 16.3%) and the PLRT (with 258 or 13.8%).
As of 2007, Massagno had an unemployment rate of 5.33%. As of 2005, there were 11 people employed in the primary economic sector and about 3 businesses involved in this sector. 426 people were employed in the secondary sector and there were 20 businesses in this sector. 978 people were employed in the tertiary sector, with 196 businesses in this sector. There were 2,620 residents of the municipality who were employed in some capacity, of which females made up 46.1% of the workforce.
In 2000, there were 1,341 workers who commuted into the municipality and 2,153 workers who commuted away. The municipality is a net exporter of workers, with about 1.6 workers leaving the municipality for every one entering. About 15.7% of the workforce coming into Massagno are coming from outside Switzerland, while 0.4% of the locals commute out of Switzerland for work. Of the working population, 19.5% used public transportation to get to work, and 44% used a private car.
As of 2009, there were 3 hotels in Massagno with a total of 34 rooms and 64 beds.
From the 2000 census, 3,837 or 69.0% were Roman Catholic, while 362 or 6.5% belonged to the Swiss Reformed Church. There are 1,054 individuals (or about 18.96% of the population) who belong to another church (not listed on the census), and 305 individuals (or about 5.49% of the population) did not answer the question.
The entire Swiss population is generally well educated. In Massagno about 63.9% of the population (between age 25-64) have completed either non-mandatory upper secondary education or additional higher education (either university or a Fachhochschule).
In Massagno there were a total of 766 students (as of 2009). The Ticino education system provides up to three years of non-mandatory kindergarten and in Massagno there were 132 children in kindergarten. The primary school program lasts for five years and includes both a standard school and a special school. In the municipality, 227 students attended the standard primary schools and 7 students attended the special school. In the lower secondary school system, students either attend a two-year middle school followed by a two-year pre-apprenticeship or they attend a four-year program to prepare for higher education. There were 191 students in the two-year middle school and 1 in their pre-apprenticeship, while 86 students were in the four-year advanced program.
The upper secondary school includes several options, but at the end of the upper secondary program, a student will be prepared to enter a trade or to continue on to a university or college. In Ticino, vocational students may either attend school while working on their internship or apprenticeship (which takes three or four years) or may attend school followed by an internship or apprenticeship (which takes one year as a full-time student or one and a half to two years as a part-time student). There were 48 vocational students who were attending school full-time and 64 who attend part-time.
The professional program lasts three years and prepares a student for a job in engineering, nursing, computer science, business, tourism and similar fields. There were 10 students in the professional program.
As of 2000, there were 178 students in Massagno who came from another municipality, while 318 residents attended schools outside the municipality.