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“The Highlight of my Trip”

Forestiere Underground Gardens
Ranked #2 of 46 things to do in Fresno
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: Take a tour off Highway 99 and visit Fresno's best kept secret. *A hand-built network of underground rooms, courtyards and passageways reminiscent of the ancient catacombs. *Unique fruit producing trees, shrubs, and vines growing underground - some over 90 years old! *Ancient Roman architecture - arches, vaults and stone-built walls. *Underground micro-climates - temperature variations of 10 to 30 degrees! *Underground home of Sicilian visionary and self-taught artist/builder Baldassare Forestiere.
Los Angeles, California
Level Contributor
48 reviews
25 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
“The Highlight of my Trip”
Reviewed October 4, 2013

Truly inspirational! This place is spectacular! I had not idea what to expect but was intrigued by little snippets I'd heard about it. I wish I could go back and meet the man who built it. I'm certain I would like him. The place is an extraordinary work of art. I've traveled a lot and have seen nothing like it. The brilliance of the man who built it astounds. Its hard to hold yourself back with the tour (and you won't want to miss a word) because you want to see what's around that next corner. Everyone I met who works there was exceptionally friendly and welcoming. My tour guide was excellent!

Visited October 2013
Helpful?
Thank Robert H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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493 reviews from our community

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Livermore, California
Level Contributor
31 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Vernacular Architecture”
Reviewed September 30, 2013

The site is astounding, as you can tell from this and other reviews: Much of the original 80- acre site was excavated using pick and shovel by a single individual over a ~40 year period, into "rooms" below ground level, many with built in planters, some containing 100 year old trees or vines which still provide large quantities of fruit. What remains for us to visit today is a portion of the site which the descendants of a Sicilian immigrant (who died in 1946) continue to maintain.

The engineering skills of an unschooled ditch-digger are more than remarkable. He created Roman arches using "bricks" of hardpan that he had dug up, reinforced walls and ceilings with scrap metal he collected, and built in internal windows to view visitors before they saw him. He used principles of thermal cooling to create a complex and vast array of rooms of different sizes - with comfortable temperatures in the heat that Fresno is famous for, irrigation techniques to store run-off and collect rain water, and openings to vent hot air.

From the road it looks like nothing. The tour guides are friendly and informative.

The only drawback to me is the restriction that all photographs are copyright of the Gardens. A must visit as the proximity of Shaw Ave & Highway 99 is starting to damage parts of the site from the vibrations of the cars. The proposed high speed rail service is currently sited close enough that it may also damage this wonder of the world, comparable to Rodia's Watt's Towers, and only a few other monumental structures built by a single person.

Visited September 2013
Helpful?
Thank Nancy F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Fresno, California
Level Contributor
113 reviews
30 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 51 helpful votes
“A HIDDEN BEAUTY”
Reviewed September 15, 2013

This underground garden should be experienced by everyone! Baldasere Forestiere was a genius when constructing this garden. There are many passage ways to explore. The guided tours are informative about the man and his vision. He left the gardens to his extended family, he never married, who continue to care for the gardens and provide the tours. An engineer who was on a tour with us was in awe of the genius of the creator of this masterpiece! DO NOT miss this gem!!

Visited June 2013
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1 Thank KathiO-10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Fresno, California
Level Contributor
57 reviews
20 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
“Mind-opening experience”
Reviewed September 8, 2013

If it weren't for Fresno's proximity to Yosemite and the Sierra, this would be its claim to fame. Although the hours are somewhat limited, it is worth the effort to marvel at a single man's remarkable achievement.

Visited August 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank N1590CQdavidf
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Fresno
Level Contributor
51 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
“Going under”
Reviewed September 8, 2013

A historic landmark hand built by one man, Baldasere Forestiere. Through a vision, his skill of digging and his desire to farm in the central valley, this Sicilian immigrant succeeded in creating a cool subterranean environment of interconnecting tunnels with rooms and open spaces allowing for growing fruit trees and still providing him with a self contained residence. The garden is clean, interesting, inexpensive and cool. Great place to take your teenage child or grandchild and show them what hard work and perseverance can achieve.

Visited September 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank travelingranmaFresno
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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