Across from bay from Stresa is an area known as Verbania, from the name Verbano, which is what the Romans called the area when they first occupied it. Today Verbania is a few small towns along Lago Maggiore, Palanza, Villa Taranto, and Istra on a peninsula. Ferries make the route to Isole Barromeo and the hillside towns for tourists or residents alike. You hear proper English, German, French, Norwegian, Japanese, and Italian of course.
After an hour walking around Palanza, I boarded another ferry to sail around the Verbania peninsula. Along the way, we passed another small island, Isola San Giovanni, which is just a few meters from the mainland. It looks like there’s a villa on the island, the rest of heavily wooded. Some splended villas are on the hillsides with great views of Lago Maggiore.
Villa Taranto is a legacy of Scotsman Captain Neil Mc Eacharns who gathered thousands of plants and flowers from around the world to create this wonderful garden. He bought the Villa La Crocetta in 1931 intending to reproduce an English-style garden in a place that reminded of his Scottish homeland. He did a splendid job and his dream lives on today for all who visit.
I bought a ticket and decided to have lunch on the patio just outside the entrance. I had a salad, a refreshing beer, and watched others arriving and entering the gardens. I was eager to see this wonderful place I’d read about in guidebooks.
The entrance to Villa Taranto is along a gravel path through mature pine trees and beds of impatients and petunias. The layout for Villa Taranto is quite impressive, well-marked paths wind through the hillsides with sections dedicated to various flowers and trees. The first area is a broad, well-maintained lawn and flower beds with a fountain at one end and lily ponds and a small chapel at the other.
The first section featured tropical plants including coffee tree, palm trees, and nursery with Australian water plants similar to what we saw our visit Down Under in 2012.
Dwarf Asian maple trees
The next section featured small trees that looked similar to Japanese maples with varying shades of green, purple, and violet. They looked fragile, requiring careful pruning to make the best presentation.
Villa Taranto flowers
Then there were the many flowers; iris, lilies, geranium, coleus, impatients, azaleas, rhododendrons, and many whose names I did not know. They were so beautiful and well cared for by experienced gardeners.
Paths through Villa Taranto
The rest of the afternoon, I followed paths with arrows guiding you through various areas of Villa Taranto. The gardens are very well maintained, trees and flowers pruned, paths litter-free, with wooden benches to stop and admire the beautiful flowers, plants and trees. A wonderful way to spend an afternoon on Lago Maggiore.
Visit Villa Taranto on your next trip to Lago Maggiore. I’m bringing my wife later this month for her to enjoy. She likes gardens as much as I do.
Next: Bern, Switzerland
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