Sicilian Gardens: 5 Green Wonders Between History and Beauty

Sicily, land of ancient cultures, breathtaking landscapes, and irresistible flavors, also offers a spectacle of natural beauty in its enchanting gardens. These ‘green gems’ scattered across the island bear witness to a rich history and extraordinary flora. In this five-stop journey, we will explore some must-visit Sicilian gardens, places where nature and art merge in a captivating embrace, providing visitors with an unforgettable experience. Are you ready to experience an itinerary of serenity and beauty with Sicilian Secrets?

Sicilian gardens are a unique spectacle. Each with its own peculiarities and ‘character’, they exemplify the perfect balance between landscape and creativity. Small oases rich in charm, you’ll find yourself surrounded by enveloping scents, colors, and fragments of history veiled by incredible curiosities. In this journey, we take you to discover the 5 ‘Edens made in Sicily’ to take note of. Let’s start!

Palermo, Villa Garibaldi

The capital of Sicily hosts several gardens. Consider the English Garden on the centrally located Via Libertà, the Botanical Garden adjacent to Villa Giulia, and also Villa Trabia. However, one of the most interesting Sicilian gardens is located in Piazza Marina, and it is Villa Garibaldi. The signature of the architect who designed it is particularly prestigious; it was the talent of Giovan Battista Filippo Basile – the ‘father’ of the majestic Teatro Massimo in Palermo – that brought this gem to life in the heart of the city. Completed between 1861 and 1864, it is named after Giuseppe Garibaldi as a recognition of his achievements.

Villa Garibaldi – Credits: Luca Corchia

Beyond the numerous commemorative busts of illustrious personalities, the true star of this place is the largest tree in Europe and one of the oldest in Italy. We’re talking about the Ficus Macrophylla, which, with its 30 meters in height and a green canopy with a diameter of 50 meters, captivates visitors and poses for photographs. But that’s not all; here, you can also find a rare Mexican oak! What’s the best time to get lost in the nuances of Villa Garibaldi? Obviously, it’s spring, allowing you to witness the blossoming of the trees and immerse yourself among the fragrant violet, white, and yellow flowers. A polychromatic blast!

Agrigento, Kolymbethra Garden

From Palermo, we move on to Agrigento, specifically to the Valley of the Temples. It is in this archaeological ‘sanctuary’ that the Kolymbethra Garden stands out, one of the most significant historical and naturalistic sites on the island. What can be seen here? Firstly, the Temple of Hephaestus, likely the most recent in the entire Valley of the Temples.

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Kolymbethra Garden – Credits: Toni Pecoraro

But the first question to ask revolves around its name. Kolymbethra was originally a water cistern, part of the hydraulic complex of ancient Akragas, the Greek city that once stood in the area where Agrigento is now located. Over the centuries, this cistern was transformed into a lush garden through the efforts of various civilizations, including the Roman and Arab. The garden is situated in a gentle valley, surrounded by hills and olive groves, and is adorned with a wide variety of fruit trees such as oranges, almonds, olives, and figs. However, it is the presence of ancient and rare plant species that constitutes a great example of biodiversity conservation, helping to preserve unique plant varieties and promote environmental sustainability.

Ragusa, Hyblean Garden

The Hyblean Garden, the green lung of Ragusa, easily receives the title of one of the most beautiful Sicilian gardens. Situated in the center of Ragusa Ibla, with the Iblei Mountains as a backdrop, this villa is a haven of well-being. It was built in the second half of the 19th century thanks to three wealthy locals, but recognizing the value of the initiative, many other citizens soon joined in to contribute to the foundation of this splendor. What immediately strikes you is the flora that enriches this monumental ‘urban balcony’. You are captivated by species typical of the Mediterranean and even encounter exotic ones. But that’s not all; along the walk, you come across three churches: the Capuchin Church with the diocesan museum, the San Domenico Church with its bell tower decorated with majolica, and finally, the San Giacomo Church.

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Hyblean Garden – Credits: su Flickr, ♥ Carmen ♥

Catania, Villa Bellini

Villa Bellini, Bellini Garden…or as the people of Catania simply call it, ‘a villa’. We are in Catania, and in the shadow of Mount Etna, we find one of the city’s oldest gardens. The most ancient part originated in the 17th century with a structure resembling a labyrinth, commissioned by its owner, Prince Ignazio Paternò Castello di Biscari. However, the fate of this place underwent various changes. The inauguration of this villa took place in 1883, and from the beginning, it became a recreational destination for citizens. Its transformation continued into the 20th century: in the 1930s, it hosted a summer opera season; in the 1950s, the floral aspect was emphasized. In the 1960s, it even became a zoo! But after its heyday, came a decline.

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Villa Bellini – Credits: Matthias Süßen

After decades of obscurity, since 2010, the Bellini Garden is once again accessible and open to the public, showcasing a diverse flora, predominantly Mediterranean and subtropical. The entrance from Via Etnea is through a staircase flanked by flowerbeds, leading to a square with a large basin in the center, where, until the 1980s, swans could be admired. On the western side, you walk along the Avenue of Illustrious Men: it is here that a series of busts placed on columns depict the major figures representing the glories of Catania, including Giovanni Verga and Luigi Capuana.

Trapani, Villa Margherita

The final stop on our tour of Sicilian gardens takes us to Trapani, specifically to Villa Margherita. A source of pride for the city’s residents, this urban park dates back to 1889, and its name pays tribute to Queen Margherita of Savoy. Within its confines, there is a historical relic: five columns with capitals in the Doric order, part of an ancient theater (Teatro Garibaldi) destroyed during the Second World War. The true fauna spectacle of this villa is the aviaries and the pond, a kind of ornithological paradise. It won’t be difficult to spot parrots, swans, ducks, turtles, as well as aquatic and subtropical plants. HEY: during the summer, Villa Margherita turns into an open-air theater. Thanks to the Ente Luglio Musicale Trapanese, since 1948, this magical place has been a stage for operas and many other performances. For the people of Trapani? Absolutely indispensable!

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Villa Margherita – Credits: Traktorminze
Strolling through these Sicilian gardens has been rejuvenating and evocative, but our news do not end here. Sicilian Secrets always tells you about some new stories on this blog. And if you wish to stay updated about our news and read our next articles, follow us on Sicilian Secrets’ Facebook page and Instagram. Stay tuned!
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