Lies along the right shore of Lake Maggiore, 196 metres above sea level. The centre is situated along the lakeshore while the rest is spread over terraced hills at 400 metres. The region benefits from a mild subtropical climate with varied vegetation where camellias and mimosas grow side by side with oaks, chestnuts and gentians.
The mountain culminates in the Ghiridone, 2200 metres high. Lake and hills offer wonderful possibilities: sailing, windsurfing, swimming, tennis, boat trips, walks and many mountain hikes as well. A village with a clear tourist call, it also has a local industry in the shape of the Tobacco Factory which is world-famous for its cigars.
Monuments to be cited are the churches of Madonna di Ponte and SS. Pietro e Paolo, in pure renaissance style (Bramantine), the 17th-century Palazzo Branca, the Sacro Monte chapel, the "Bosco Sacro" or "Holy Wood" where the laburnum grows (a small tree with clusters of yellow flowers common in temperate climates). A harmonious combination of lake and mountains, Brissago brings together north and south in a perfect play of light and colour.
Ronco s/Ascona - Porto Ronco
Ronco s/Ascona extends from Porto Ronco at about 200 metres to the height of 1300 metres in the mountains. The picturesque, quaint-looking centre rests on a prominence in the mountain side at a height of 350 metres. Three main horizontal roads connect the tortuous, vertical paths.
Ronco has always been an artists' village; Antonio Ciseri painted the altar picture in S. Martino church in 1870 where 15th-century frescoes depicting the four seasons can be admired. The German writer Remarque chose the shores of Porto Ronco as his favourite residence. A mild climate and spectacular scenery invite the nature-lover to visit this remarkable corner of Lake Maggiore.
The Islands of Brissago
A visit to the botanical gardens on the Islands of Brissago is a must for anyone staying in the region. The gardens bring together a great variety of exotic, subtropical plants, cultivated in the open air and laid out according to their geographical origins.
The history of these two islands is lost in the mists of time: on the "Isola Piccola" roman remains have been found; there are ruins of a church dating back to 1250, on the walls of which roman-style frescoes are still visible. In 1885 Baroness Antonietta Saint Leger transformed the island into her residence, where painters, sculptors, musicians and writers gathered.
The "Isola Grande" became an exotic garden and the Baroness catalogued the plants cultivated on it in her diary, which was then published in London in 1913 ("The Vegetation of the Island of St.Leger in Lago Maggiore"). She lost then all her properties and in 1927 she sold the islands to a rich business man from Hamburg. Max Emden had the palace, harbour and "Roman bath" built as they can still be seen today, and also had the flowerbeds redone.
In 1949 the Islands of Brissago were purchased by the Canton of Ticino, the villages of Ascona, Brissago and Ronco s/Ascona, the Swiss Association for the Protection of Nature and the Society for the Conservation of Artistic and Natural Beauty. The islands became botanical gardens of the Canton of Ticino. The islands are open to the public from April til October.