Among the best Lake Maggiore day trips to undertake in spring, you cannot miss Villa Taranto Botanical Gardens, a riot of colors and lights!
Let’s discover something more on their history and how they surprise visitors in every season.
Villa Taranto and the intuition of a Scottish Captain
The Botanical Gardens consist of a 16 hectares park directly on the western shore of Lake Maggiore, in Pallanza, Verbania. They were born from the botanical passion of Captain Neil McEacharn who bought the land in 1931 from the Marchioness of Sant’Elia to transform it into an extraordinary botanical garden.
Born in the south of Scotland in 1884, McEacharn came from a Scottish wealthy noble family, which allowed him to devote himself full time to the great passions of his life: botany, gardening and travel. He managed to travel around the world several times to witness and study different plant species and varieties.
It was in 1931, on his return home after a long stay in Venice, that Neil McEacharn read an advertisement in the Times about the sale of a villa in Pallanza on the Castagnola hill.
Despite the abandoned condition of the villa, the Captain decided to buy it to fulfill his life-longing dream of transforming the park into a beautiful botanical garden with a rich collection of plants from all over the world.
Trusting in the beauty of the place, in the mildness of the climate and in the incredible work of terracing and excavation, the Captain was able to combine aesthetic and botanical needs.
He bought other adjacent lands and in the 16 hectares of the property he created woods, borders and valleys of shrubs, flowerbeds, parterres, lawns, ponds, greenhouses and planted plants from all over the world, forming collections of great scientific value that now count 8,500 different species and varieties.
McEacharn transformed it in 9 years and renamed it Villa Taranto, in honor of his ancestor Étienne Macdonald, appointed Duke of Taranto by Napoleon.
Villa Taranto is now a real masterpiece to visitors’ eyes
The botanical gardens of Villa Taranto are a masterpiece of extraordinary beauty, and with the help of the Captain’s first gardener, Henry Cocker, they were transformed into a beautiful English garden, combining features of Italian gardens with terraced gardens. An artificial valley was also created for plants needing shade. The biggest work was the creation of a pumping station for water from the lake, which is used to irrigate the whole garden, overcoming a difference in height of 60 meters.
In 1939 the captain, forced to leave Italy at the outbreak of World War II for Australia, donated the property to the state on condition that it remained private.
He temporarily entrusted the precious property to his friend and administrator lawyer Cappelletto and when he returned to Pallanza, at the request of friends and authorities, he opened the gates to the public in 1952.
The villa continued to be open to visitors, with its heritage of a thousand non-native plants and about 20 thousand varieties and species of particular botanical value.
Lake Maggiore day trips to admire each season blossoming
On our Lake Maggiore day trips, we will walk through the avenues of the botanical garden, and we will stop to explain the various botanical species.
All this framed by the beautiful view of the lake and mountains, a walk in the gardens of Villa Taranto is like taking a trip around the world, being able to admire botanical species from every country.
Each season has its colors:
- In spring we can admire the beautiful labyrinth of tulips with 80,000 bulbs in bloom, camellias, magnolias, rhododendrons, daffodils, violets.
- In summer we will find water lilies, lotus flowers, the Victoria Cruzana which is a giant equatorial water lily.
- In autumn the beautiful colors of hydrangeas, winter camellias and maples.