From Brissago you can climb up the Sacro Monte and to the Santuario di Santa Maria Addolorata, a once wild and dramatic place that now boasts an unusually picturesque charm thanks to its baroque style. Brissago is also famous for its cigars that bear the name of the town overlooking Lake Maggiore. Founded by a group of enterprising locals and Italians in 1847, the Fabbrica Tabacchi Brissago was the starting point for the evolution of the cigar industry in Ticino and specialised in the artisanal production of Virginia cigars. Thanks to the expertise of the Brissago factory, these cigars would later become known as Brissago cigars. The charming town of Ronco sopra Ascona boasts medieval origins. Built of tower houses that lean one against the other, it climbs up the promontory overlooking the lake and offers enchanting views of the landscape. As well as its intimate and welcoming atmosphere, plenty of famous people have also made this village their home. The birthplace of Antonio Ciseri, in its cemetery you will also see the graves of many artists who chose it as their adopted home, such as Eric Maria Remarque and his wife Paulette Goddard (formerly the wife of Charlie Chaplin), Richard Seewald, Rolf Lenne, Ernst Fischer, Ursula La Ruelle-Krebs, Gerhard Maasz and Kurt Hoffmann.
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.