The grounds of this late-19th-century villa are one of Lago Maggiore's highlights. A Scottish captain, Neil McEacharn, bought the Normandy-style villa from the Savoy family in 1931 after spotting an ad in the Times. He planted some 20,000 plant species over 30 years, and today it's considered one of Europe’s finest botanic gardens. Even the main entrance path is a grand affair, bordered by lawns and a cornucopia of colourful flowers. It's a short walk from the Villa Taranto ferry stop.

What you'll see changes with the seasons: the winding dahlia path shows off blooms from more than 300 species from June to October; in April and May, the dogwood and related flowers run riot. In the hothouses you can admire extraordinary equatorial water lilies.

The villa itself is not open to the public as it houses the offices of the local prefecture.