Brissago is famous not only for its tobacco and cigar factory, but also for its islands, which seen from above look like bright green spots in the blue of the lake. Between 1885 and 1928 Baroness Antonietta Saint-Léger, a Russian of German origin, planted a botanical garden designed as an earthly paradise, and her successor, the department store king Max Emden, continued her work.
Today the neo-classical villa contains a restaurant and the administration offices of the Botanical Park of Canton Ticino. Their plants are still there, together with the Himalayan cinnamon with its scent of camphor, the Madagascar gladiolus, the bald cypress from the swamps of North America with its trunk under water, and numerous other exotic species.
The islands of Brissago are easy to reach by boat, have the mildest climate in Switzerland, and can be best admired from Ronco s/Ascona, a little village caressed by the sun, situated on the slopes of the mountain and characterised by the church of San Martino, which dominates the surrounding countryside. The hill between Ronco and Monte Verità above Ascona is the site of luxury villas, and the view can be enjoyed from one of the spectacular footpaths. Here, especially on clear winter and spring days, you can discover all the charm of the south: mimosas and agave grow between the walls and the view over the lake is of a rare beauty.
- Islands of Brissago (Botanical Garden of the Canton Ticino) - It is the only botanical garden on an island in Switzerland, created in 1885 by the Baroness Antonietta de St. Léger. This beautiful island offers the visitor the possibility to admire over 1’700 different species of flowers and plants of the 5 continents.
- Palazzo Branca-Baccalà, Brissago - Baroque house from the XVII century. Today it hosts the Museum Ruggero Leoncavallo, dedicated to the famous composer, who, at the beginning of the 20th century, lived and worked in Brissago.
- Dannemann Centre - The Tobacco Factory, Brissago - Founded in 1847. The famous “Brissago” cigars are worldwide renowned for their excellent quality. Today the structure also offers a cultural centre.
- Via Crucis and Sacro Monte, Brissago - After the hall of the first chapel, which is used as the main door, you can follow the Via Crucis stations, restored and ornamented with tables of Fra Roberto, an artist from Ticino. The Via Crucis leads up to the church Sacro Monte.
- Artisti di Strada – Over 100 shows of all kind of art forms at free admission performed by artists from all over the world along the lake promenade (Piazza) and in the streets and alleys of Ascona (May).
- JazzAscona – Europe’s largest hot jazz festival. Internationally renowned artists perform live on stages located along the enchanting Ascona lake promenade and link the event directly with the city of New Orleans (June-July).
- Settimane Musicali di Ascona – The most prestigious classical music festival in Ticino with symphony orchestras, chamber ensembles as well as recitals on single instruments held at the Churches Collegio Papio in Ascona and San Francesco in Locarno (August-October).