Villa Taranto, Lake Maggiore, Italy by Donald J. Macdonald of Castleton.

Following on the notes on Continental Macdonalds, the name of this estate on Lake Maggiore was first brought to our notice by a member who had been travelling in Italy and was much impressed by the beauty of the Botanical Gardens there and still more interested when she noticed that the servants all bore the hand and cross-crosslet of our Clan on their uniforms. Enquiries resulted in the following interesting information which may be useful to clansfolk touring in Italy. It is obvious that these gardens are well worth visiting.

From the present administrator we have found that the estate was acquired by a Captain Neil MacEacharn in 1931 and was developed over the years until MacEacharn’s death in 1964 when it was donated to the Italian State. Since then it has been managed by the Consighliere Delegato, Dr. A. Cappelletto from whom we received this information with an impressive brochure of the gardens and surroundings on the shores of Lake Maggiore. Dr. Cappelletto worked with Captain MacEacharn from 1931 till his death in 1964.

What interested us was the name of the Villa and its founder, who claimed descent from Marshal Macdonald, Duke of Tarentum. We are very well documented on the family and descendants of the famous Marshal; but have failed so far to link him up with our pedigree. That there was some connection is beyond doubt; and, if any reader of this article knows how to solve the mystery, the Editor would be extremely grateful for any further information.

The headed paper on the letters from the Villa bears a coat of arms so familiar to us – the black galley of the Isles, with, as crest, a hand holding (vertically this time the cross-crosslet and the motto – Per Mare Per Terras. Captain MacEacharn was a son of Sir Malcolm and Lady Mary Watson and gave the Villa its name to commemorate his ancestor, Marshal Macdonald. He left no children but had two sisters “one married to Lord Selton and the other to Sir Guthrie”. We have so far found no trace of these ladies.

Full information about the Villa and its gardens can be obtained from:

Il Consighliere Delegato,
Ente Giardini Botanici Villa Taranto,
28922 Verbania-Pallanza,
Lago Maggiore,

Footnote to the Online Edition: You can take a virtual tour of these beautiful gardens at: -R.K.W.M.