Brissago / Isole di Brissago
Lying at the lowest point in Switzerland, just 197 metres above sea level, and perched between the shores of Lake Maggiore and the steep mountains behind, Brissago is a small town on the Italian frontier. The lowest and oldest part of the village is clustered around the beautiful Renaissance church of St. Peter and Paul, surrounded by centuries-old cypresses.
In the narrow lanes leading down to the lake you will find some picturesque spots to admire: gardens where lemons, oranges and cedars grow in the open air, as well as beautiful mansions.
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.
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.