The gardens of Villa Taranto in Verbania, between Intra and Pallanza, are known the world over for their great beauty and the huge number of plant species they contain. The result of a labour of love on the part of the Scottish Captain McEacharn in 1931, the myriad of colours and scents the marvellously landscaped garden offers continues to enchant visitors from March to October.
The gardens are landscaped in what is essentially the English style, though there is no lack of Italian features like statues, fountains, ponds, terraces, waterfalls – in short, all the ornamental elements that add some extra magic to this earthly paradise.
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 harmoniously 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 wine magnolias, 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).
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, dahlias are at their best between July and October. The garden book festival Editoria & Giardini is an occasion for special events in September.
This extraordinary place was the brainchild of the Scottish captain Neil McEacharn, who bought the villa in 1931 with the specific intention of creating the garden of his dreams on the shores of his beloved Lake Maggiore. He named the property after a family ancestor who had been made “Duke of Taranto” by Napoleon. In 1939 Captain McEacharn, who had no direct heirs, decided to gift the whole property to the Italian state, in exchange for permission to be buried in the mausoleum which now stands in the middle of the park.
There is an entrance fee for visiting the gardens.
HOW TO GET THERE
By car: from the A26 motorway, exit for Verbania. Take the Suna/Pallanza by-pass until you come to the new marina; turn right along the lakeside just before the marina. You can also get to Villa Taranto by boat: some of the public service boats stop at the Villa’s pier.
from the end of March to November, everyday
Open hours: from March to September 8.30-18.30 everyday. October and November 9.00 – 16.00.
Ente Giardino Botanico Villa Taranto
Via Vittorio Veneto, 111 – Verbania Pallanza (VB)
+39 0323 556667
The beautiful, famed Alpinia Botanic Garden is located in the pretty hamlet of Alpino between Stresa and Gignese. Its exceptional view, which sweeps from the Borromean Gulf to the chain of the Swiss Alps, made Alpino a favoured holiday spot from the mid 19th century for the European aristocracy as well as artists who found here inspiration for their work.
The superb Alpinia Botanic Garden was started in 1934 during the Fascist period, under the name of Duxia, by Igino Ambrosini and Giuseppe Rossi. The garden, at an altitude of 800 metres, is extremely interesting to naturalists due to its huge, varied collection of botanic species from the Alps and the Alpine foothills, as well as from the Caucasus, China and Japan. The most valuable plants in this spectacular botanic garden are specimens of trees and shrubs, some of them rare.
The garden has recently been extended to include a wetland area for aquatic plants. There is a spring of oligomineral water near the entrance to the garden.
HOW TO GET THERE
By car: from the A26 exit at Brovello Carpugnino; continue in the direction of Gignese and follow the signs for Alpino-Mottarone.
By train: the nearest railway station is Stresa.
1 April/ 31 October: 9.30 am – 6 pm
Giardino Botanico Alpinia
Address Piazzale Lido, 8 – Stresa (VB)
The Park of Villa Pallavicino in Stresa is a favourite tourist attraction on Lake Maggiore, a paradise of flowers and animals to delight visitors of all ages.
The Park was originally the idea of the Neapolitan statesman Ruggero Bonghi, who fell in love with Lake Maggiore and decided in 1855 to purchase the land and build a small house for himself. In 1862 the family of the Marquises of Pallavicino acquired the property and began to improve it, extending the grounds, building drives suitable for carriages, embellishing the park with statues and transforming the modest house into the opulent 19th century Neoclassical mansion which still graces the hillside. In 1952 Marchioness Luisa Pallavicino completed the family project with the addition of a zoo with animals from every corner of the globe.
Now thousands of tourists visit the Villa’s extensive 16 hectare-park between March and October.
Broad lawns, shady avenues and open spaces planted with roses, oleanders, magnolias, daffodils, azaleas, and rhododendrons blend perfectly with the majestic, mature trees of the wooded areas. The zoo with its more than 40 species of animals from all over the world is the major visitor attraction: black swans, rare species of duck, grey crowned cranes, deer, silver pheasants, cervi-capra, zebras, Bennet kangaroos, and peacocks add their life and colour to this natural stage looking out over Lake Maggiore and the surrounding mountains.
The park (admission fee) has a restaurant, bar, souvenir shop, children’s play area and several picnic areas.
Open from March to October, the Park of Villa Pallavicino is the perfect place for a day out in the open air with all the family!
HOW TO GET THERE
By car: from the A26 motorway exit at Carpugnino or Baveno. When you get to Stresa lakefront, turn right along the lakeside road towards Belgirate. Villa Pallavicino is just outside Stresa on the right. Leave your car in the car park on the left.
By train: the nearest station is Stresa.
Park of Villa Pallavicino
Address Via Sempione Sud – Stresa (VB)
+39 0323 31533
+39 0323 31533