A fragrant tour of Locarno and Lake Maggiore
Springtime on the shores of Lake Maggiore in southern Switzerland begins with a festival of fragrance.
Over 300 varieties of the camellia flower - a tea plant - will be on display in colourful arrangements all over the town of Locarno during its annual Camellia Festival, which takes place this year between March 21 and 25.
Ticino folk and classical music groups will perform during the festival, and visitors can take part in ceremonies dedicated to tea. The flower is known for its decorative white, red and variegated blossoms.
The tea-seed oil extracted from some common varieties is used in the manufacture of textiles, soap and for cooking.
For SFr21 ($12), visitors can purchase a ticket which is good for entry to all the festival events, and for the short boat ride on Lake Maggiore to the botanical gardens on the Brissago Islands.
The two tiny islands are home to around 1,500 plant species, grouped according to their sub-tropical origins. Flower lovers can get back on the boat and travel down to the Borromeo Islands on the Italian side of the lake.
The gardens on the largest of these islands, Madre, are home to azaleas, rhododendrons and camellias.
Landlubbers can head to the botanical park on Monte Gambarogno, across the lake from Locarno. The park boasts 950 species of camellias and splendid views over the lake and surrounding mountains.
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