Villa Taranto

Captain Neal’s challenge

It’s a dream that became reality: tenacity, perseverance, and perhaps a pinch of healthy craziness enabled Scottish Captain Neal McEachern to fulfill the ambition of his life and create one of the most beautiful botanical gardens in the world – a fact confirmed by authoritative international publications.

Neal was a cultured man and a botanical expert with considerable economic resources; he’d always been driven by the desire to create THE GARDEN, a place where every botanical species from all over the world could grow. Perhaps it was a pretentious dream… however with Lake Maggiore’s micro-climate as his accomplice, McEachern transformed this land into a gorgeous botanical garden by making changes to the terrain on the Castagnolo promontory, one of the two boundaries that mark the Borromeo Gulf.

Already renowned in the XIX century, the Castagnola was chosen as a privileged place to build luxurious homes. One of these, the “La Crocetta” villa, captured the attention of the captain; he bought the villa, aware of the features which the climate and land could offer in this area.

Thanks to his experience in the field of botany, the Captain was able to carve out different environments that are ideal for the planting of a variety of plants and flowers coming from all over the world – all together in one botanical garden.

Neal McEachern, an honorary citizen of the city of Verbania, donated his beloved park to Italy. Today, the Villa Taranto Botanical Gardens is lovingly cared for by the Ente overlooking it, which showcases the Scotsman’s work and continues to enhance it through the introduction of new plants.

Visiting this botanical garden is sensational, in the literal sense of the word: visitors entering the park will be immersed in bright colors, strong chromatic contrasts, shady and sunny areas with different temperatures, fragrant scents, and the sounds of nature – as well as classical music transmitted by hidden speakers. Gigantic, centuries-old trees stand like memories from the past, next to younger plants, pools with dazzling aquatic species where cheerful, sing-song frogs jump about, gushing fountains adorned by multi-color flower beds, and breathtaking overlooks where you can admire the Lombard side of the lake, the city of Intra, and the hills that protect the titans of the Vallese Canton. And then there are the flowers; they are simply unforgettable here at Villa Taranto! Flowers mark the garden’s most amazing moments: the highly popular flowering of many camellia varieties in the spring and fall months do great justice to these “queens of the lake”; the flowering of rhododendron and azalea varieties in April coincides with the tulip festival – one of the most important festivals of the year in which these cheerful flowers decorate the park in tens of thousands. When the wisteria and roses flower, the park is imbued with their sweet scents, while the dahlia show is one of the longest-running displays in the park: a multitude of species are planted in order to guarantee a burst of color and flowering from July to October, a month in which foliage all over the park begins to take on its warm, autumnal colors.

Pleasant and relaxing moments play their part in this joyous experience, which will leave visitors wanting to return and perhaps admire the garden during a different time of year, with new colors and new scents.

The villa, which is the headquarters for the Verbania prefecture, is not open to visitors.

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