Things to Do Today – Gardens Part 1

Gardens around Lake Maggiore
The particularly mild climate to be found round Lake Maggiore has favoured the growth of a wide variety of different types of vegetation, all of which have found their natural habitat in this area.

Isola Madre- Photo Lazzarini

Isola Madre is particularly famous for its azalea, rhododendron, and camellia blossoms but also for the pergolas of ancient wisteria, and for the Cashmere Cyprus, which is more than two hundred years old and is the largest example in Europe.

Isola Madre

The atmosphere of this enchanting place is magical; its immense garden of rare trees and exotic flowers, where peacocks and pheasants wander and budgerigars fly in freedom, has something of the fascination of a tropical land. The English-style garden of Isola Madre, landscaped in the early 19th century in a space of almost eight hectares, displays a flora which is a continual surprise and which is hard to find in other places.
It is famous for the amazing spectacle of its azaleas, rhododendrons andcamellias in flower, as well as its pergolas of ancient wisteria. The largest specimen in Europe of Kashmir Cypress, superb lime and lemon trees, a marvellous collection of hibiscus, and a Gingko Biloba, are all found here.
Access: The island can be reached by service boat or motor launch from Stresa, Verbania, Baveno and Arona.

The gardens of Palazzo Borromeo on Isola Bella, are a splendid and grandiose italianate baroque, one of the most important and best kept examples of its kind to be found in Italy.

Isola Bella at night

The garden is full of flowers and exotic plants of great rarity, which grow thanks to the particularly mild climate of the Borromean Gulf. Everything on the island has been designed to create a scenic effect, including the “Theatre” constructed at the end of the superimposed terraces, dominated by a statue of a Unicorn, the heraldic emblem of the Borromeos, which is flanked by statues representing Nature and Art.

View from Isola Bella across Lake Maggiore

The huge, extraordinary garden is further decorated with ponds, fountains and a plethora of statues dating from the second half of the 17th century. The white peacocks that wander over the manicured lawns add their grace to this enchanting spot.
Access: The island can be reached by service boat or motor launch from Stresa, Verbania, Baveno and Arona.

An authentic Garden of Eden, harbouring thousands of plants and flowers from all over, harmoniously spread over 30 acres.

Villa Taranto

Villa Taranto is one of the most important botanic gardens in the world, with thousands of species of trees and flowers from all over the world, planted  over an area of around 16 hectares, crossed by 7 km of paths and avenues. It is impossible in a few words to do justice to the wealth of colour, scent, and emotional impact: eucalyptus, azaleas, rhododendrons, magnolias, port winemagnolias, maples, camellias, dahlias, tulips, lotus, heathers, dwarf asters, hydrangeas, dozens of tropical plants (including the giant water lily Victoria Amazonica), rare specimens like Dicksonia antarctica (Tasmanian Tree Fern) and Davidia involucrata (Dove Tree).

Villa Taranto, a magnificent show of Tulips

From spring to autumn there are always flowers in bloom, with “special events” for certain species which are particularly spectacular in their season: the tulip week is in April/May, dahlias are at their best between July and October. The garden book festival Editoria & Giardini is an occasion for special events in September.


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