A visit to the botanical gardens on the Islands of Brissago is a must for anyone staying in the region. The gardens bring together a great variety of exotic, subtropical plants, cultivated in the open air and laid out according to their geographical origins.
The history of these two islands is lost in the mists of time: on the"Isola Piccola" roman remains have been found; there are ruins of a church dating back to 1250, on the walls of which roman-style frescoes are still visible. In 1885 Baroness Antonietta Saint Leger transformed the island into her residence, where painters, sculptors, musicians and writers gathered. The "Isola Grande" became an exotic garden and the Baroness catalogued the plants cultivated on it in her diary, which was then published in London in 1913 ("The Vegetation of the Island of St.Leger in Lago Maggiore"). She lost then all her properties and in 1927 she sold the islands to a rich business man from Hamburg. Max Emden had the palace, harbour and "Roman bath" built as they can still be seen today, and also had the flowerbeds redone.
In 1949 the Islands of Brissago were purchased by the Canton of Ticino, the villages of Ascona, Brissago and Ronco s/Ascona, the Swiss Association for the Protection of Nature and the Society for the Conservation of Artistic and Natural Beauty.
The islands became botanical gardens of the Canton of Ticino.
The Isola Grande is open to the public from April til October, for more informations please click here.
To download a pamphlet about this botanical garden in a PDF format, please click here at the right.