The islands of San Pancrazio (Isola Grande) and Sant’Apollinare (once known as Isola dei Conigli, or Rabbit Island) can be reached easily by boat from various ports around Lake Maggiore. The islands have undergone a number of changes of ownership and were left abandoned for years until 1885, when Baroness Antoinette de Saint Léger and her husband Richard Fleming bought them to make their home there. The young couple transformed Isola Grande into a park, and it is thanks to the Baroness that we owe the origins of the current Botanic Gardens, while the subsequent owner – the businessman Max Emden – was responsible for building the Villa Emden. In the Botanic Gardens on Isola Grande, open to the public since 1950, more than 2,000 plant species from the main Mediterranean climate areas thrive – including the Mediterranean basin, Chile, South Africa, Australia and California – as well as from areas with a humid subtropical climate, such as Asia, America and Oceania. Thanks to this biodiversity, the Botanic Gardens on the Brissago Islands are some of the most beautiful gardens in Switzerland and are particularly popular with tourists.