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Villa Taranto

The Botanic Gardens of Villa Taranto
cover an area of about 20 hectares on the promontory of Castagnola in Verbania Pallanza. Their origins date back to
1931, when a Scottish gentleman, Captain Neil Boyd McEacharn,Queen of England’s archer, gained the estate called
“La Crocetta” from the Marchioness of Sant’Elia to change it into one of the main botanic gardens in the world. Captain McEacharn renamed the estate “Villa Taranto” to honour one of his ancestors appointed Duke of Taranto by Napoleon. The appearance of the estate was very different at that time: the villa, built in 1880 from Conte d’Orsetti, in a style vaguely inspired by Normandy architecture, needed restorations: the park, smaller than nowadays, did not have any stylistic mark, being predominantly rich in chestnuts, robinias and bamboos. Captain McEacharn, who had already acquired a remarkable experience in the botanic field in the huge park which surrounded his castle of Galloway in Scotland, dedicated his enthusiasm, competence and a large amount of his money to realize a work which took thirty years and the presence of more than one hundred workers.
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The area of the gardens was nearly doubled by acquiring other neighbouring estates; pre-existing vegetation
was uprooted by cutting down more than 2000 trees; it was created a waterworks using water pumped from
the lake in a big tank and then distributed to the garden through a 8 km net of pipes; the altimetrical structure
of the ground was varied by digging an artificial valley for the cultivations which needed a more protected and
shady climate; besides, more than 7 km of paths were placed. Finally there was the delicate task of replanting
the gardens. This work lead Captain McEacharn to go round the world more than once to find seeds and plants
to grow in Villa Taranto; it stimulates gardeners and floriculturists to grow species up to that moment unknown
in the gardens of the country. The importance of the gardens is not only due to its botanic heritage,  even if
rich in more than 20.000 varieties and species, but to the beauty and harmony of the whole; the English mark
of the park is enriched by the Latin taste and sensitivity through the insertion of typical elements of an Italian
style garden. The gardens, given to Italian State by Captain McEacharn when he died, were opened to the public
for the first time in 1952. When he died, Captain McEacharn was buried in a chapel, built on purpose, in the middle
of the garden.
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