Palma sulle isole di Brissago

A journey around the world on the Brissago Islands

At first: the Brissago Islands are Paradise!
A special subtropical climate

Located in the middle of the Lake Maggiore, Ticino/Switzerland, they have a special climate, subtropical with warm summers and not too cold winters. There are hardly any frosty days on the Islands as the water gives off the stored warmth of Summer during Winter. This climate allows the cultivation of exotic plants.

Papyrus plant
Papyrus plant
This fall, I had the opportunity to visit the Brissago Islands

On a cloudy Friday, I set off. By train I went from Lugano to Giubiasco – where I had to change – and from there to Locarno. After a short walk I reached the ship jetty. Then I arrived on the Islands in comfortable 50 minutes. As the sun gradually gained strength, I could even sit outside on the ship and let the beautiful view pass by.

There is even a plan of building a footbridge from Ascona to the Brissago Islands.


Once I arrived on the Island, I first noticed that the air had changed. The dense foliage and the associated smell immediately made me wander into the distance and I felt as if I was in the tropics.


Between 1885 and 1949 the Islands were in private hands. First they belonged to Richard and Antoinette Fleming St. Leger and later to Max Emden. They then became public in 1949. The botanical garden was opened on April 2nd 1950.

I already knew that they also grow spices and herbs on these Islands

Daniela, one of the gardeners of the Islands, told me about it. I met her in one of my spice courses where she enriched the evening with her great botanical knowledge.

My expectations were not disappointed. I discovered spice plants that I knew. Pepper, Schinus molle, Peperoncino, Sechuan pepper and even Camelia sinensis, the tea plant just to name a few. The garden is beautiful and lovingly laid out, most plants are labelled with signs and next to many plants are glasses with the spice or fruit in it to make everything even more vivid.

Glasses with spice Glasses with fruit Chili pepper Helichrysum italicum

There were places which were sprayed with microfine mist, which of course made my holiday feelings even stronger, as I like to travel to the tropics.

Beside the spice plants, of course there are also beautiful flowers

White flower blue flower Orchid


During a guided tour, I learned a lot, for example, that the Islands are two mountain peaks protruding from the water.

And do you know why the “blue jeans” are called that? They were dyed with the blue of the indigo bush, which arrived in Genoa as a merchandise and was called “Bleu de Gênes” in France. This is pronounced “Blö dschäns”.

Also she showed me different seeds and their way of spreading.

So I travelled on a small scale from Europe to Asia, then to South Africa, South America and Oceania …

bee hotel on the Brissago Islands

Strelitzia flower



After the tour there was a fine lunch at the restaurant, suitably a curry dish. On the Island you can also spend the night, the “Villa Emden” has 10 rooms with a beautiful view of the Lake Maggiore.


It was certainly not my  last time on the Brissago Islands, there is something to see in every season.

For children there is a treasure map to discover the Island.

The Brissago Islands are definitely worth a (world) trip.


Do you know Scones? Next week I will talk about!

Tea, Scones, clotted cream and jam


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