Alpine drama and subtropical colors are wed in Brissago, yet another flowery lakefront resort at the lowest elevation in Switzerland. It's an easy excursion by car or bus from Ascona. The main attraction, however, lies offshore: the Brissage Islands, federally preserved as botanical gardens, are set like jewels in the lake. They teem with more than 1,000 species of subtropical plants: plaques identify them in Italian, German, and French, and an English guide to the plants
is for sale for 8 SF at the gate. Have lunch or drinks at the restaurant in a beautifully restored 1929 villa. Boats bound for the islands depart regularly from Ascona (20 SF round-trip) and Locarno (34 SF round-trip). You must leave with the last boat back to the mainland—usually around 6 pm—so check the schedule carefully when planning your excursion.