Fresno, California: Forestiere Underground GardensTour the labyrinth of tunnels, patios, and grottoes chiseled over 40 years by immigrant Baldasere Forestiere.
Visitor Tips and News About Forestiere Underground Gardens
Simply amazing! I can't believe I've lived in the area pretty much my whole life and never heard of this place until I got this app. My husband and I spent a lovely afternoon exploring the tunnels and enjoying the much cooler temps below the valley soil. Definitely a must see![Sara Torabi, 07/20/2012]
Nondescript from the street, but once you enter the property, it's a beautifully designed paradise.[Sydney Harter, 06/18/2010]
Baldassare Forestiere began digging in 1906 and was still at it 40 years and 50 rooms later. He did it, he said, because it was more comfortable to live and grow things under Fresno than in it.
We just took a tour with our homeschool group. It is still a marvel to visit. We went while it was still cool in Fresno, but visits during the heat of summer are more awesome due to the temperature change below.
The price has gone up a little, and the grandson doesn't do the tours any more. We were led by a college age student. He was informative and friendly.
This is truly a unique experience if you have never gone. I went in high school, when my son was about 12, now my daughter is 12 so we went again, and took my now 21 yr son. He and I still enjoyed it even though we had visited before.[Danielle, 05/08/2009]
May 2012: Photo added.
Forestiere Underground Gardens are a must see for anyone who is interested in architecture, unusual gardens, and unique road trips. The surrounding Fresno area gives no hint as to what's beneath the fenced in an overgrown lot off the freeway. As you make your way beneath the earth's surface into the tunnels and rooms, you are transported to another country, with its Mediterranean and Old World charm and feel. The ballroom is simply amazing with its stained glass basement windows, terrazzo marbled floors, wrought iron work, and washed aqua-green beamed ceiling.
The guided tour is lead by Baldasare Forestiere's younger brother's great grandson, Andre Forestiere, who is very polite, welcoming, and informative. The tour is very informal and relaxing. Andre enthusiastically tells the story of Baldasare Forestiere and the creation of his gardens, and reveals Baldasare's personal meanings and artistic expressions behind specific planters, rooms, and so on. He raises questions about the auto drive and why the cellar was built next to it. He points out and gives background into other family member's contributions and additions over the years to the gardens, such as the ballroom and aesthetically pleasing arbors built over the skylights. Using a bit of humor, Andre gives hints and glimpses into what he has in store for the gardens in the upcoming years. Unlike other tours, Andre actually encourages the touching of walls and rock/brick work.[Kim and Diane, 06/08/2005]
Still there, still wonderful. We've driven by a million times whenever we're in Fresno, but finally were able to stop in while they're open. Marvelous.
This project is clearly a labor of love. There is nothing slick or too-polished about the tour or the grounds. They will not pester you to buy stuff after the tour, and the nephew's wife and their son will be the ones leading you around. I am sure there are few questions they haven't heard, but you'd never know that by the gracious way they answer each and every one.
Go a couple of times -- your admission is good for a year, they told me -- once for the tour, and once with a nice book. On that second trip, return to that nice spot you found on your first trip, enjoy the currents and cross-currents designed by Baldasare, the lovely scents borne on those breezes, and let your mind wander a bit. You may not get much of your book read, but you will have your soul refreshed.
We plan to make this a stop whenever we're in Fresno.[Shannon Smith, 08/02/2004]