Forestiere Underground Gardens
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.
My husband and I have been wanting to go here for a while now, we finally made it out to take a tour. It is a wonderful experience. There is so much to see our guide was so full of information. I definitely recommend this place. However, I would not recommend taking kiddos who can't walk for about an hour being that you can not take strollers in.
A hidden treasure. Glad we found it! Sad story about a man who wanted to build an underground resort but died before it was completed. Found amazing combinations of citrus trees.
I lived in fresno over 30 years and drove past this place daily before I ever visited. If you live in the area, you should definitely visit once. The tour is quite overpriced, though, so one trip is enough for me. It's sad to think how much of these gardens were destroyed by Shaw avenue or for strip malls and economy hotels. Classic Fresno move.
Courtney Jones Ramirez
This place has to be seen to be believed. It's about an hour long tour through beautiful courtyards and rooms that were all hand dug by one man. there's even a clever aquarium. A Fresno treasure and a must see! ***Note they are closed during most of December, January and February
Most gorgeous place I've ever been. I hope it's still just as beautiful when I take my wife to see it.