Built by a Sicilian immigrant from 1906 through 1946, the Forestiere Underground Gardens are a strange yet captivating manmade site in Fresno, California. Baldassare Forestiere, with the occasional help from his brother, built the 10-acre underground garden with his own two hands over a period of 40 years, later to be operated by members of the Forestiere family as a tourist attraction.
The underground gardens were fashioned after Roman catacombs, inspired by a desire to escape the stifling Fresno summer heat swells. Among the twists and turns, grottos, and skylights are a winter and summer bedroom, a functioning kitchen, fish pond, and a parlor with a fireplace. The courtyards, planted with blooming flora, and spilling in the bright sunlight like a halo, are some of the more captivating features of the Forestiere Underground Gardens.
Listed as a National Historical Site, a California Landmark, and a Fresno City Historical Site, the Underground Gardens have been a popular attraction in Northern California for decades. Travel to the Mediterranean by simply descending into the ground and touring the three levels of beautiful, inspired stonework speaking of one man's imagination and nostalgia for his home country. The ancient Roman architecture will have you aching to see Rome, while the courtyards elicit a feeling of continuity conserving plants, vines, shrubs, and trees, some of which are over 90 years old. If your group is passing through Fresno, do yourselves a favor and stop by the Forestiere Underground Gardens!