East meets West in Catania's most stunning private garden.
Situated just beyond the walls of Catania, "Le stanze in fiore di Canalicchio" is no ordinary Sicilian garden. A contemporary landscape of ancient origin, the garden is the result of the "fusion" of modern Western essentialism and Eastern exoticism, exuberant tropical flora and hardy Mediterranean scrub. The owner, Rossella Pezzi de Geronimo, a successful business woman with more than a drop of noble blood in her veins, designed the garden to represent a series of different "stanze" (rooms in Italian) in which visitors could enjoy unique, multisensory experiences.
The garden project was initiated 10 years ago, when Rossella planted the cultivated terraces surrounding her neoclassical villa with some 400 exotic species of plants from all over the world. Water is the element which links the "rooms" and creates a "trait d'union" between the past and present.
The water which once irrigated the citrus groves is now recycled to form the little streams which trickle along the "saie", ancient canals of Arab origin, and feed the waterfalls which cascade onto a white stone basin or old drinking trough. Elsewhere, the aquatic theme continues in the form of an enchanting little lake, the surface of which is covered with hyacinths, water lilies and lotus flowers. The garden is bordered by low walls built with the local lava stone. Seating, on which to contemplate the scenery, enveloped in the exquisite scents of roses, lilacs, cardamom and jasmine, is provided, not on benches, but upon piles of rocks.
Walls of bamboo create a natural windbreak, protecting rare botanical species such as the Chinese Bowinia aculeate, characterized by its white flowers similar to orchids and leaves the shape of butterflies. Like all living things, the garden is in a state of continual evolution. The latest addition is an eastern wing, which the owner created on her return from a recent trip to Japan. Here, the new spaces include a "white room" filled with Japanese camellias and hydrangeas, and a Mediterranean-Zen area, in which the seven rocks, which reminded the owner of Sicily's Aeolian Islands, take pride of place.
Guided tours of the garden are available by reservation only. At the end of the tour, visitors have the opportunity to stop for a "fusion break" which combines old Sicilian family recipes with contemporary finger food.
Le stanze in fiore di Canalicchio
Via Pietra dell'Ova, 181
Tel: +39 348 9794746
Visits by reservation only
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