PARCO SCHERRER: THE MAGIC GARDEN
About sixty years ago there was a small house with a stable on the border of the lake, with a hill covered by vineyards and chestnut trees rising behind it.
At that time, Arthur Scherrer acquired the house, bought the land surrounding it, plot after plot. He altered and improved the house until it became a small jewel. Scherrer was a romantic and passionate landscape gardener so that the park hasn’t lost its fascination and is still attracting more and more visitors.
Arthur was born in St. Gall (Switzerland) on November 2nd 1881 as the eldest son of Mr. Gustav Hermann Scherrer, a merchant and Town Councillor; he had five brothers and one sister. Scherrer went to school in St. Gall, was later educated together with other boys of respectable families from different countries at the then famous Schmidt college Institute. Later he completed his studies of the French language in Lausanne (Switzerland). Next step was the Textile and Weaving college in Aachen (Germany). He acquired the knowledge of Italian in Siena (Italy) and subsequently he went to the United States to learn English and to complete his business education, Back in Europe, he took over his father’s cloth-trade in Munich (Bavaria – Germany), transforming it into one of the smartest English style fashion-houses for men in town.
Arthur Scherrer died in Morcote 1 July 1956.
In 1965 Mrs. Amalia Scherrer (6.08.1887 – 24.03.1974) offered the estate for 300’000 fr., to the community of Morcote, on condition that it should be made accessible to the public. In spite of the financial burden such a donation placed upon the Community, it has been possible to adapt this magic garden to the requiring of, its many visitors and guests.
After structural improvements the “heavenly” park (as it was defined by the Aga Khan, grandfather of Karim Aga Khan), offers today a unique and marvelous background for cultural and artistic events and brings more and more visitors to share in Arthur Scherrer’s dream world, giving the unique opportunity of taking an extraordinary trip through time and space, where past and present, history and nature tend to come together harmoniously. The first “Follies-style” garden of Ticino.
THROUGH THE PARK
At the entrance to the park, the Venetian ornamental fountain, accompanied by a Byzantine lion placed on a Renaissance column, and two baroque lions of Carrara marble, bid us welcome and invite us to walk up a path lined with colorful azaleas towards the terrace above. On top of the stairs, between lions, nymphs and fauns, an alley leads to the statues representing the four seasons surrounded by azaleas and camellias. Near by an imposing cedar tree completes the picture. An amphora – an oil vessel dating from the 13th century – ends the alley.
Near the ornamental renaissance fountain in Carrara marble, the columns of a Belvedere. From the panoramic terrace with its two sphinx perched on the columns, the superb view of onto the southern bay of lake Lugano (Ceresio), and onto the gentle hills of Varese (Italy) reminds one of a painting by Leonardo da Vinci. Statues of Venus, Hercules, Juno and Jupiter stand watch among the azaleas.
Casting a glance to the north, against a background of pines, cedars, palms and agaves, a small Erechtheum (second Acropolis temple) in scale 1:4, made of natural stone from Vicenza, comes into view. Somewhat higher up the slope, a sun temple in Moorish style awakes dreams of the garden of the Alhambra in Granada, whereas two baroque fountains, made of Veronese stone, refresh Mercury, the god of commerce, and a female spinner symbolizes the profession of the Scherrer family.
Beyond the Siamese tea house, a remainder the mysterious world of the Far East and after strolling through a bamboo grove, we arrive at the small Egyptian temple of Nefertiti, guarded by two divinities: the lion headed Sekhmet and the hawk headed Horus, son of Osiris. The temple’s interior and the famous bust of Nefertiti, belonging to the period of Amenofi about 1375 B.C, are faithful copies of the original in Berlin. The walls are painted in ancient Egyptian style. Here the ashes of Mr. and Mrs. Scherrer found the last rest.
Nearby and perfectly integrated in a small oasis stands the Arabian house, Arthur Scherrer’s last pavilion. On the way down, one encounters sculptures of Nubian slaves immerged in lush vegetation; after having left this botanical paradise behind, there is a renaissance building, which recalls “Palazzo Salò” in Brugine, near Padua. The interior, the walls are painted in the Mogul style. In the “Indian garden”, there’s basin with four elephants, trunks in the air, threatened by three cobras ready to attack and the sacred cow of Mysore dominating from the summit. On the left a water-lily pond where a Chinese tortoise wishes a long life.
After the garden exit and now used as a restaurant – a house in the Lombard – Ticinese style of the 15th century – which Arthur Scherrer rebuilt in 1930, bears witness of his love for this area. The building is an exact reconstruction of a house in the “Sassello” quarter of Lugano, which has since been completely demolished. Its gallery with arched windows separates the upper living rooms from the court with its fountain, and at the same time constitutes a harmonious connection between interior and exterior living space.
The 15’000 sq.m. garden gives shelter to over fifty different plants and many of these are labeled with their scientific name.