Boundless botanical curiosity originating in the British Isles, augmented by the special microclimate of the lake: this famous garden of somewhat Victorian tastes has joyous flowerbeds, exotic greenhouses, and rare specimens that are now in their maturity.

In 1931, an advertisement appeared in “The Times” regarding the sale of a villa, at that time known as “la Crocetta”. It was read by a Scottish Captain called Neil McEacharn, who was travelling on the Orient Express. Thus begins the story of one of the most important botanical gardens in the world. Designed by Swiss architect Augusto Guidicini for Count Orsetti, the villa occupies a panoramic position, in a park overlooking Lake Maggiore that, between 1931 and 1940, would be transformed into a botanical garden that took advantage of the favorable micro-climate. The complex was renamed to honour an ancestor of the buyer’s, who Napoleon had appointed Duke of Taranto. Gardener Henry Cocker directed the works, blending together areas of different character, ranging from formal Italian (with pools, statues and terraces), to “English”, criss-crossed by some 7 km of paths that constantly offer different botanical scenes and landscapes. Over the years, the garden has grown richer and richer: the 8,500 species catalogued by McEacharn in 1963 have now risen to almost 20,000, and include: eucalyptus, azaleas, rhododendrons, magnolias, maples, camellias, dahlias, tulips, lotus flowers, heather, hydrangeas, and rare tropical plants. Neil McEacharn donated the villa to the Italian State in 1939, retaining the right to use it and be buried there, in a mausoleum built in 1965. The areas of the park flow into one another with great variety. Thanks in part to the seasonal blooms, it is a more-or-less continuous spectacle: from the entrance boulevard with its dense conifers to the labyrinth of dahlias, a little valley full of arboreal broom and the Cotoneaster waterfalls, terraced gardens with pools, statues and beds of annual plants, which are perhaps the park’s hallmark feature.