Brissago Islands/Inseln. Photo, Foto: Wikipedia.

The Brissago Islands

The Brissago Islands (Isole di Brissago) in Lake Maggiore and the Botanical Park on San Pancrazio, the largest island, are unique in Switzerland.

The origins of the magnificent Botanical Garden dating back to 1885, when Antoinette (1856-1948), the illegitimate daughter of Tsar Alexander II (1818-1881) and Wilhelmina Bayer, and her husband, the Irish aristocrat Richard Fleming St. Léger, bought the islands and turned them into the park.

The German merchant Max Emden (1874-1940) bought the islands in 1927 and also invested in the botanical garden and exotic botany and built the mighty villa, which still dominates the view today.

In 1949 the canton of Ticino (50%) and the municipalities of Ascona (25%) and Brissago and Ronco (25%) acquired the Islands, the villa and the Botanical Garden. The garden became a scientific institution and the islands a major tourist attraction. This complex ownership structure, created in 1949, hinders effective management and administration and will be adapted in 2019.

The canton will become the sole owner and the municipalities will receive land back on the mainland in exchange.

The aim of this operation is to maintain and manage the villa and the botanical garden more efficiently and to make the islands more attractive for tourists.

(Source: G. Maspoli, ´Il Parco botanico delle isole di Brissago´in GSK, Kunst + Architektur in der Schweiz, Botanische Gärten, Bern, 2019, Nr. 3).