A scavenger hunt on the Brissago Islands: all around the world in an island

You simply cannot live in Tessin without having visited, at least once in your life, the Brissago Islands, can you? It is like the castles in Bellinzona or a trip up to Monte san Salvatore in Lugano: they are must-sees that any local parent need to visit at least once (it is a “moral obligation”!). For this reason, I decided to take my twins. The last time I was there, it must have been when I was in primary school… and I was eager to go back.
Brissago islands(Foto Pizzicanella @Ascona- Locarno Tourism)

Do you know the Brissago islands?

The Brissago Islands, are well-known islands on Lake Maggiore (the islands are only 2, by the way) and you can reach them only by boat (obviously, as they are islands!)  Only one of the two is open to the public, the Isola Grande, and it is home to a real gem, a collection of plants (there are about 1,700 different ones) from subtropical areas of the 5 continents: so the island is a special and unique botanic garden.

Thanks to its location, the climate is very mild, which allows subtropical plants to live – even in wintertime. Just imagine the kaleidoscope of colors and smells…

Brissago islands(Foto Pizzicanella @Ascona- Locarno Tourism)

One could think: what can I do there with kids? The true gem (or treasure) are not the plants and the fascinating vegetation which, let’s be honest, are of no great appeal to kids… it is the scavenger hunt! So here we go, armed with a small backpack, ready to discover one of our Tessin must-sees…

Brissago islandsI chose to go on the very last day of the summer school holidays, so that we could enjoy one last “vacation” day before school starts. The day starts with a logistic mistake: I park my car in Locarno, thinking that on the way back I would stop there and show my kids the town where I had studied for two years. To reach the Brissago Islands is faster and cheaper to leave from either Brissago or Porto Ronco. Well, everyone knows it: the cobbler always puts his shoes on the other foot!

Brissago islands

Isola Grande: the scavenger hunt

The sailing time from Locarno to the islands is about 30 minutes, and the simple fact of getting there by boat gives you the feeling of being on vacation. As soon as we get off the boat, we pay for the entrance ticket and receive the map of the scavenger hunt, with its 13 places to look for clues, and they are all over the island. At each place you find a riddle to solve. If you solve it correctly, you receive a clue that you will need at the following “clue” place. In order to find the treasure and win the prize, you have to obliterate the map at all and you cannot cheat.

Obviously this playful aspect means that children find themselves in a magical, adventurous and engaging world. The route around the botanic garden allows you to visit all areas of the five continents and leads you to discover Mediterranean spices, a labyrinth made of bamboo reeds from the Asian continent, huts made with branches, “strange” and colorful flowers, beaches, the orchid greenhouse and the nice bee, which the children adored. Brissago islandsI hear you asking: but what about the treasure hunt? What is the final prize? Here is my answer: go, have fun and you will find out! (Which means: if I tell you, I will spoil your day!)

Brissago islandsArticle published on April 27 in Extrasette, an insert of Corriere del Ticino. 

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