Brissago islands

Botany paradise on Isola Grande

The Mansion on the Isola Grande in Brissago on the Swiss part of Lake Maggiore

The Mansion on the Isola Grande in Brissago on the Swiss part of Lake Maggiore

Anyone travelling along the beautiful Lake Maggiore would certainly make a stop over in the lush green islands of Brissago known as the Isola Grande and the smaller isle of Isola Piccola. The isles with a mild Mediterranean climate remained hidden till its discovery in 1885 by the Russian Baroness Antoinette Saint Leger, who with her husband the Anglo Irish Lord Fleming bought the land and turn it into a beautiful botanical garden. The couple collected a great number of various plants from around the world including exotic species that soon populated the island to become one of the region most beautiful botanical garden. With the dawn of the twentieth century and the blooming of a new cultural movement, the eccentric Baroness created her own aesthetic colony on the island attracting many artists, poets, musicians and writers including James Joyce and Rainier Maria Rilke. But it was not long until the Baroness was obliged to sell her beloved island due to financial difficulty, to Max Emden the rich Jewish German merchant who, contrarily to the Baroness love of the world of gardening transformed the place into a pleasure island. The new owner built his neo-classical italian style palazzo with a sumptuous outdoor Roman bath where he and his friends indulged in worldly pleasures. Max Emden was also known as an avid art collector where most of his art collection decorated his island palace, but at the wake of the Nazi party movement and the coming of war, he went into financial difficulty and was obliged to sell most his art collection for his living expenses. Today the islands are part of Switzerland Ticino botanical park and is certainly worthwhile for a stop over. Getting there, take the boat from Locarno, it will first stop in Ascona and some small villages before reaching Isola di Brissago.

The boat pier Brissago island

The boat pier Brissago island

Walk around the lovely shores to enjoy the beauty of the island …

The small lagoon on Isola Grande

The small lagoon on Isola Grande

The Isola Grande is home to many species of plants, a great number of citrus fruits such as the fingered citron and seasonal flowers from around the world.

Various exotic plants grow on Brissago island

Various exotic plants grow on Brissago island

Various lemons abound in the garden …

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The climate is even suitable for these evergreen shrub known for its delightful drink the Camilla Sinensis variety of tea …

Tea plantation

Tea plantation

As well as various squash and bitter cucumber …

Squash plant

Squash plant

But among plant species found in the garden, I was mostly impressed with the fern forest which really made you feel like being in the tropics “Mediterranean style”

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