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Forestiere Underground Gardens

Forestiere Underground Gardens

undergroundgardens.com
Tripadvisor (758) · Gardens
The Forestiere Underground Gardens in Fresno, California are a series of subterranean structures built by Baldassare Forestiere, an immigrant from … See more

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Nov 11, 2022
TOTALLY IMPRESSED by this tour. The accomplishment of one man over the many years is amazing! We had an excellent tour guide and were pretty much blown away by the entire place!! Full review by MandM6638
Oct 31, 2022
Very interesting and inspiring story about one man spending 40 years building and improving this underground home and garden. He was clever, had an amazing engineering mind, and a conservationist whi… Full review by Escape792369
Oct 31, 2022
An amazing achievement by one man. You have to see his work to believe it! Everyone needs to see this. Full review by kellylI6621YA

Articles

Escape the Heat and Explore this Cool Dwelling
In the vast history of California, there are more than a few people who have an outlandish idea, dedicate their life to it, then create something beautiful that will be seen for decades. I would put Leonard and Salvation Mountain in this camp, along with Nitt Witt Ridge and now the Forestiere Underground Gardens. While the underground gardens are nowhere near at strange as the other two on this list they are still a fascinating example of one mans art becoming a place people visit long after his death. If you are driving through Fresno I highly recommend taking a tour of this unique spot, here is all the information.DetailsCost: $15Hours: Closed Mon & Tues, Wed – Sun: 10AM – 4PMLocation: 5021 W Shaw Ave, Fresno, CA 93722Parking: Just on the side of the road, no dedicated lotHistoryBorn in 1878 in Sicily, Baldasare Forestiere is the creator of these gardens. In 1901 he moved to Boston from Italy to purchase land and grow citrus. Since Boston is not a huge citrus town, he dug railway tunnels for years then moved to New York. After saving enough money to buy land, he then travelled to Fresno where his brother lived. He bought 80 acres in 1905 then started digging to start his citrus grove. He hit hard pan at 3 to 4 feet deep which meant that his land was pretty much unplantable. Not to be discouraged, he started digging underground and then just decided to move down there and work to create a resort for the people of Fresno, so they could escape the heat. He dug the area out until 1946 when he got pneumonia and unfortunately passed away, with the resort still unopened. It became a historical landmark in 1979 when it became strictly for tours, and now they have 5 acres of tunnels, 3.5 of which you can explore. The TourAfter being ushered into the underground shop and waiting area we were moved to the main ballroom of the underground gardens where we were told the history of the area and the man himself. Shortly after that the tour started and we were winding through the mazes that make up this fantastic place. It’s hard for me to describe in words so I will just show you photos from my favorite spots and encourage you to check it out yourself.Chapel One of the first spots you see when you enter the tunnels is the chapel. He was a devout catholic so he created a chapel complete with bell. It is said that the bell was used when guests arrived to ring and he would come find them.KitchenComplete with a stove, dining area and pantry, this underground kitchen did not leave anything to be desired. Even the dining room itself had a table that was designed to have a fruit tree growing right through the center.BedroomSince the way temperatures work underground is different based on location to the sun, air moving through them, etc, he actually had two bedrooms, one for winter and one for summer.Aquarium and 3rd levelThere is only one room that is 3 levels below the ground and it is the sitting room he made with an aquarium ceiling. He used to sit here and stare up at the ceiling to see his fish swimming around. It would be a pretty awesome room for sure.The Seven Fruit TreePrior to coming to this spot I was not aware that you could graft trees together to have one citrus tree produce multiple kinds of fruits. I was even more unaware that you could have a tree produce 7 different types of fruit like this tree in the gardens. It no longer produces that many types since the branches broke but at one point in time this one tree gave 7 different types of fruits.Old CourtyardThe biggest room that I saw in the area, this courtyard had many different types of trees as well as different benches you could sit and relax on. It was a nice and shady spot with a good temperature, even on a hot day.Car TunnelLastly, the large car tunnel was designed so that guests could drive right down into the tunnels themselves. It was even made to have multiple spots where exhaust fumes would exit so that no one had to breathe them in when in the gardens. There are of course a lot more spots that you will see when you tour the gardens but the above are some of my favorites. This is a fun place to explore and especially to escape the harsh summer heat of Fresno, if you are there during that season. I really enjoyed myself here and am glad I finally got to check it off my list. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.
californiathroughmylens.com
An Underground Mansion
The Underground Gardens are the life-long devotion and hobby of Baldassare Forestiere, a Sicilian immigrant and self-taught artist and builder who came to America in 1901 to escape the iron rule of his wealthy father and pursue his own dreams. The Gardens are a subterranean complex of patios, grottoes, and garden courts interconnected with passageways that encircle a four-room living quarters.After arriving in Fresno, California, Forestiere purchased 80 acres of land that he later found to be unsuitable for farming due to the presence of many inches of hardpan just below the meager topsoil. He discovered that a layer of mostly impermeable clay was found about 10 feet below the hardpan, so he decided to begin digging to open up underground rooms with circular holes above to allow a variety of plants to take root in large planters. He also realized that by going underground he could escape the brutal heat of Fresno’s summers and avoid spending his few day-job earnings on conventional housing.Though his later building ideas may have been affected by his very first job in America—helping to dig some of Boston’s earliest subway tunnels—Forestiere patterned his underground world after the ancient catacombs, which he so admired as a boy. Arches and passageways dominate the underground landscape, while the stonework provides stability and beauty. But unlike the darkness of the Old World’s catacombs, Forestiere designed naturally lit courtyards, driveways, even a glass-bottomed aquarium below which he could sit and read. No plans were put on paper; each room and passageway originated in Forestiere’s mind as he went. With the simple tools of a farmer—a pick, a shovel, a wheelbarrow, a dragged scraper, and eventually two mules—the determined immigrant dug, chipped, and carved his personal monument to ingenuity for 40 years in his spare time. By the time he was 44 years old, he had excavated and planted over 10 acres.But Forestiere’s genius did not stop there. Incredibly, Forestiere planted multiple varieties of fruit-bearing plants at different underground levels. Oranges, lemons, grapefruits—many on a single tree—as well as more unusual varieties like kumquat, loquat, jujube, strawberry, quince, and dates, which could be easily plucked while standing on the surface and simply bending down. Wine and table grapes also grace this sanctuary and dangle lusciously in great clumps everywhere—truly an oasis in a modern-day desert of pavement.
atlasobscura.com
A Network of Catacomb Gardens
Fresno's best kept secret, The Forestiere Underground Gardens. Built over a century ago. A hand-built network of underground rooms, courtyards and passageways reminiscent of the ancient catacombs. Unique fruit producing trees, shrubs, and vines growing underground -- some over 90 years-old...-Ancient Roman architecture - arches, vaults and stone-built walls-Underground micro-climates -- temperature variations of 10 to 30 degrees-Underground home of Sicilian visionary and self-taught artist/builder Baldassare ForestiereThe Underground Gardens are the life-long devotion and hobby of Baldassare Forestiere, a Sicilian immigrant who came to America in 1901 to escape the iron rule of his wealthy father and pursue his own dreams. The Gardens are a subterranean complex of patios, grottos, and garden courts interconnecting with passageways that encircle the living quarters of the self-taught artist and builder who sought to escape the brutal heat of Fresno summers.Forestiere patterned his underground world after the ancient catacombs, which he so admired as a boy. Arches and passageways dominate the underground landscape while the stonework provides stability and beauty. But unlike the dark catacombs that protected the remnants of the lifeless, Forestiere designed well-lit courtyards and grottos to bring forth the radiance and vitality of life.No plans were put on paper; each room and passageway originated in Forestiere’s mind as he worked. With the simple tools of a farmer—a pick, a shovel, and a wheelbarrow—the young immigrant dug, chipped, and carved the unforgiving hardpan land for 40 years in his spare time. By the time he was 44 years-old, he had excavated and planted over 10 acres.But the humble immigrant’s genius did not stop there. Incredibly, Forestiere planted multiple varieties of fruit-bearing plants at different underground levels. Oranges, lemons, grapefruits—many on a single tree—as well as more unusual varieties like kumquat, loquat, jujube, strawberry, quince, and dates could be easily plucked from the surface by simply bending down. Wine and table grapes also grace this sanctuary, and dangle lusciously in great clumps every-where---truly an oasis in a modern-day desert of pavement.
maps.roadtrippers.com

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