Inspirations

Discovering hidden treasures among the villas and gardens of Upper Piedmont

13 activities
Lago d'Orta, Lago di Mergozzo, Lago Maggiore, Valli dell'Ossola
Villa Taranto  - Archivio Fotografico Distretto Turistico dei Laghi, foto di Marco Benedetto Cerini

GARDEN TOURISM is the calm journey among the villas and gardens of the heart on the lakes and mountains of Upper Piedmont in a nevertheless intimate dimension, ideal to fully understand and enjoy the cultural and natural heritage of our destination. It is appreciated by couples on a romantic getaway, families in search of the perfect combination of leisure and relaxation, as well as small groups ready to discover the area through different eyes.

Amidst idyllic views, between lakes and mountains, with GARDEN TOURISM the gaze now turns to small worlds full of poetry. Secret corners, sometimes revisited, of historic villas and elegant castles, but also flowers and fragrances of lively gardens, often less known to most but no less valuable. Places where architecture, art and history merge with the world of green and botany.

On our journey, we touch on the Rocca Borromea Park in Arona, a green expanse with a splendid view of Lake Maggiore and, as a backdrop, the fascinating ruins of the fortress where Carlo Borromeo - the future San Carlo, to whom the colossal 35-metre statue, one of the tallest in the world, affectionately known as the "Sancarlone", is dedicated, located not far away - was born in 1538, then destroyed in the early 19th century by the Napoleonic army. Then on to the Meina Museum, where entertaining multimedia experiences, ideal for families, blend perfectly with the 19th-century architecture of the greenhouses and chalet of Villa Faraggiana, as well as with the ancient botanical species in its park. The Alpinia Botanical Garden, nestled on the slopes of Mottarone above Stresa, allows visitors to stroll among rocky beds of alpine flora up to where the slope offers one of the most enchanting views of Lake Maggiore, ranging from the Borromean Islands to the Alps. From spring to autumn, extraordinary splashes of colour transform the Gardens of Villa Taranto in Verbania Pallanza into an outstanding floral attraction on Lake Maggiore: an example of a botanical work of art, the park features thousands of specimens of plants and flowers from all over the world, terraces, ponds and large lawns sloping down towards the lake. Also in Verbania, two charming municipal properties are worth a visit: Villa Maioni, now the town library and venue for cultural events, with its park of camellias and tall trees, is a fine example of late 19th-early 20th-century neo-baroque style; Villa Giulia, with its beautiful façade of loggias and columns and its English-style park directly on the lake, was originally the home of Branca, an aristocratic family that boasts the invention of one of Italy's most famous liqueurs, Fernet. Villa Giulia is also an event and wedding location, as well as a public garden. A magnificent park full of flowers guards the romantic Villa Anelli in Oggebbio: this is a private garden where, since the second half of the 20th century, the owner family has passionately cultivated a rich collection of camellias, in 2010 named Camellia Garden of Excellence by the International Camellia Society.

From Lake Maggiore, with the itinerary suggested by GARDEN TOURISM, we reach the far north of Piedmont, in the Ossola Valleys. The medieval Castle of Vogogna, a fascinating complex of walls, towers and concealed courtyards, was built from the 11th century onwards in a position dominating the village with the aim of defending the Bassa Ossola. Our journey in the Ossola continues further up, in the Vigezzo Valley or "valley of the painters": here, among the rooms of an ancient palace in Santa Maria Maggiore, the Feminis-Farina Perfume House inebriates the visitor with the enveloping scent of Eau de Cologne - created by two migrants from the valley - and other essences from the Aroma Garden with its delightful greenhouse.

The catalogue of hidden treasures between lakes and mountains must also include our three Sacri Monti, 16th and 17th century "bastions of faith". The unique combination of art, history and spirituality, with which these pleasant places located on the heights of Ghiffa on Lake Maggiore, Orta San Giulio on Lake Orta and Domodossola in the Ossola region enthral the viewer, is of such value that the Sacri Monti were declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2003, together with the other Sacri Monti in Piedmont and Lombardy.

The Network of Villas and Gardens of the Distretto Turistico dei Laghi - Garden Tourism Lago Maggiore, Lago d'Orta, Lago di Mergozzo e Valli dell'Ossola - is a non-profit association promoting the enhancement of the cultural, historical, artistic and natural heritage of the area, encouraging synergies between the owners and managers of the main villas and gardens, the creation and maintenance of tourist-cultural routes dedicated to gardens, botany, greenery and landscape, developing new visitor experiences between culture and green experience. The Network consists of 13 Villas, Museums, Sacred Buildings, Parks and Gardens - public and private - located in the municipalities of Arona, Domodossola, Ghiffa, Meina, Oggebbio, Orta San Giulio, Santa Maria Maggiore, Stresa, Verbania and Vogogna. The Network of Villas and Gardens - Garden Tourism is set up and promoted by the ATL Distretto Turistico dei Laghi with the scientific and organisational support of Promo PA Fondazione.

INFO & CONTACTS

PORTALE TURISTICO UFFICIALE DISTRETTOLAGHI.IT - SEZIONE “VILLE & GIARDINI”      
GUIDA/EBOOK UFFICIALE “GARDEN TOURISM Ville & Giardini” DISTRETTO TURISTICO DEI LAGHI      
VIDEO “VILLE & GIARDINI” del DISTRETTO TURISTICO DEI LAGHI      
PORTALE TURISTICO UFFICIALE DISTRETTOLAGHI.IT - SEZIONE “OSPITALITA’”      

To create a perfect tailor-made holiday experience, please contact our Offices: we will be happy to provide you with specific information and ideas!

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Villas and Gardens

Parco della Rocca Borromea - Arona

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Colossal statue of Saint Charles Borromeo

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Museo Meina

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Villas and Gardens

The Botanical Gardens of Alpinia

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Villas and Gardens

Botanic Gardens of Villa Taranto

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Castello Visconteo

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Casa del Profumo Feminis-Farina

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Sacred Mount of Domodossola

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Sacred Mount - Ghiffa

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Special Natural Reserve of Sacred Mount in Orta, Mount Mesma and Colle Buccione Tower

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Isola Bella - Palazzo and gardens

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Villas and Gardens

Isola Madre - Palazzo and gardens

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Villas and Gardens

Parco Pallavicino

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