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Baldassare Forestiere (Italian pronunciation: [baldasˈsarre foreˈstjɛːre]; July 8, 1879 – November 10, 1946) was a Sicilian immigrant to the United States who created the Forestiere Underground Gardens in Fresno, California, a 10-acre (40,000 m2) subterranean villa built primarily by him with the partial assistance of his brother over a period of 40 years. Foresteire was born in 1879 in the town of Filari, "a hamlet near the hilltop village of Rometta in the Peloritani Mountains west of Messina, on the island of Sicily".
To make something with a lot of money, that is easy; but to make something out of nothing - now that is something.— Baldassare Forestiere
Forestiere Underground Gardens
The gardens feature nearly one hundred chambers, passageways, courts and patios dug beneath the hard pan soil. Fruit-bearing trees planted below the ground protrude through openings at ground level. Forestiere resided here, benefiting from cooler temperatures during the high heat of the California Central Valley in summer as well as warmer conditions within the ground during winter. The gardens are an example of non-traditional vernacular architecture. Forestiere's creation and story offer parallels to Simon Rodia, another Italian immigrant born in the same year (1879), who settled in California and crafted the Watts Towers.
For a fictionalized account of Forestiere and his obsession, see the short story "The Underground Gardens" by T. Coraghessan Boyle, published in The New Yorker (May 25, 1998). An extensive feature on Forestiere was published in Whole Earth Review.
- Manno, Silvio (2005). The Forestiere Underground Gardens: A Pictorial Journey. Ionian Publications. p. 3. ISBN 9780974491165.
- "Home - Forestiere Underground Gardens - Fresno, CA". Forestiere Underground Gardens. Retrieved 18 April 2017.