Nena Airoldi was born on March 6, 1930, in Milan into a Swiss patrician family from Lugano.

In 1948, after finishing secondary school at the German School in Milan, she attended the Scuola di Figura (drawing school) until 1950.

From 1951 to 1952 she settled in Paris for a study program. She enrolled in drawing classes at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière, and was active in the artistic community and in the glass artists' circle.

After moving back to Milan she worked in the laboratory of a glass artist for one year.

In 1954 she attended the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera as a fellow student of Francesco Messina for one year, and afterwards of Luciano Minguzzi. She graduated in 1959.

In 1960 she met the architect Enrico Ciuti. Their love and artistic relationship will last a lifetime.

From 1960 to 1966 Nena Airoldi created mostly sculptures for public and private buildings, however, between 1964 and 1966 she interrupted her sculpting work in order to develop new plastic forms and to work with different materials.

In 1968 she created a large glass window for Palazzo Campari in Milan.

In 1969 she held her first solo exhibition at Renato Cardazzo's Galleria del Naviglio in Milan, and in 1970 she took part in a collective exhibition at the Galleria Permanente in Milan.

Her second solo exposition was at Helen Sutton's Galleria Studio La Città in Verona in 1971.

In 1976, together with her husband, she moved to Agra, Canton Ticino (Switzerland), where she continued her artistic activity, creating sculptures, collages and jewels.

In 1997 she moved to Agno.

She died on July 12, 2003, while a personal exhibition was on at the Plebano Museum in Agno.

Nena Airoldi's works are part of numerous public and private collections in Switzerland and in Italy.

Some of her works belong to the Swiss Confederation, State of Canton Ticino, Town of Lugano, Town of Chiasso, the Ticinese Society of Fine Arts, various Bank Institutes and many museums, including the Museum in Aarau.

Works by Nena Airoldi can be seen in public places in Canton Ticino: in the Town of Lugano, on the campus of the Università della Svizzera Italiana, along the Artistic Path of Brè above Lugano, in the Ospedale San Giovanni of Bellinzona and in the Ospedale Beata Vergine of Mendrisio.