Information on:

Forestiere Underground Gardens

5021 West Shaw Avenue


The Underground Gardens are the life-long devotion and hobby of Baldassare Forestiere (1879-1946), a Siciliani mmigrant 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 (1906-1946) in his spare time.  By the time he was 

44 years-old, he had excavated and planted over 10 


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.



Saturday, May 19, 2018
Amazing place. It is so cool to see what an immigrant did to contribute to this country's National Historic monuments. The caves reminds me of the Winchester mystery house. Industrious and somewhat eccentric but nevertheless very iconic. A must see tour!! Leave a tip for your docent. They won't ask but very much accepted.

Charlotte Trabakoolas-Garber

Friday, June 8, 2018
We have visited the gardens several times over the 60 years we have lived in the valley. It's a must see for everyone. The group tour was very informative and entertaining. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable. She told the story of the family and the process of building this local treasure. Take an hour and visit this historical site right in our back yard.

Marge Jackson

Thursday, May 31, 2018
This place was amazing. We received a tour of the underground and a story of how it happened. It took me back to how it must have been to create the home and orchards. I wish there was more to see but overall it was a great tour.

Miray Kas

Sunday, June 3, 2018
Very nice 1 hour long tour with a very nice tour guide. Took the last tour of the day around 4pm, was pretty hot, underground gave some nice cooling. I felt for the guy who built it even though it is only early summer late spring time.

Laura van Hoof

Sunday, May 20, 2018
What a great place. Very informative. Our tour guide, Martin, really brought the history of the place to life. Definitely worth a visit if you are in the area. Also cool below ground on a hot day

Forestiere Underground Gardens is not affiliated with AmericanTowns Media