Collie in Taormina Public Gardens

Beautiful Botanical Gardens Sicily and Wine Tastings

I have just returned from my holiday in Sicily and what a stunning destination Sicily is.

Of course in between enjoying some great food and Sicilian wines and relaxing in late summer sunshine I found a few beautiful Botanical Gardens Sicily to visit.

I also took a trip to Mount Etna which afforded fantastic mountain and Ionian sea views, along with some unexpected flora and fauna. What surprised me most about Mount Etna was how green it is, the slopes are forested, mainly with chestnut trees and Genesta at lower altitudes. There are various species of oaks, birch, and beech.

Small ponds and streams in the forests are home to frogs, toads and even turtles. You may also spot, weasels, snakes, hare, brown fox, porcupine and wild cats. Above are owls, falcons and if you’re lucky to see one – Mediterranean golden eagles.

Gambino winery is located on Mount Etna, they hosted a delicious wine tasting with tasty bites to pair perfectly with each wine, more about that later.

I digress, let’s go and explore those gardens.

 

 

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Gardens included in this article are as follows:

Taormina Public Gardens

Messina Botanical Gardens

Palermo Botanical Gardens

Ibleo Park Ragusa Ibla

 

 

Taormina Public Gardens

Taormina is located in the North East of Sicily, perched on a steep mountain side. Winding streets and stepped alleyways lead you up and down this pretty and glamorous town, known locally as the Monte Carlo Of Italy.

Expansive lava paved plazas, lined with alfresco cafe’s, open up to far-reaching sea and coastline vistas.

Taormina Public Gardens can be found along these streets just past the Greek amphitheater. They were created by Florence Trevelyan, she was the grand daughter of a baronet and as a child, after her father died, she was sponsored by Queen Victoria and lived with the Balmoral household.

She embarked on a European tour after an alleged affair with Edward vii. Exiled by the queen, with a monthly allowance towards her living costs.

Her first garden in Sicily was created on Isola Bella, an island just off the Taormina coast, which she bought and lived on for several years. The Mediterranean gardens there are now a designated Protected Natural Site.

She married the mayor of Taormina who gifted her some land on a terrace overlooking the mountain slopes down to the sea. The Taormina gardens were born.

Trees in Taormina Gardens
Beautiful Botanical Gardens Sicily

Tree lined paths lead to bougainvillea boulevards and borders full of hibiscus and lantana. Jasmine, Myrtle and eucalyptus scents the air. Florence included many fabulous follies, most of which are still in great condition. A pool and fountain is home to dozens of goldfish. Shady, leafy arbors create perfect seating for a picnic or just to while away a few hours relaxing.

A lovely statue of Florence and her husband greets you at the entrance to this pretty garden.

Taormina Public Gardens are free to visit and are open every day.

Messina Botanical Gardens

The Orto Botanical Gardens In Messina are maintained and operated by the university of Messina. They are located on Piazza Settembre.

Messina’s first Botanical Gardens was created in 1638 but were destroyed in 1678 along with the university by the Spanish. In 1889 a new garden was established by the river Portalegni, subsequently destroyed y the 1908 earthquakes.

Today what remains of the gardens is home to numerous trees such as Trachycarpus, Ginkgo Bilbo’s, Cape chestnut, Chinese fan palm, Pinus brutia (Turkish Pine), Long leaf pine. There are many others as well interesting plants like

Pineapple Guava, strawberry guava, avocado, Myrtle to name a few and water lilies in the ponds.

Palermo Botanical Gardens

On this visit to Sicily I didn’t go to Palermo so I do not have firsthand accounts of the gardens.

My research leads me to believe that while they are absolutely beautiful they are sadly in need of some basic maintenance and tidying. Maybe I should offer my gardening services and talk them into allowing me a working holiday. ????

The gardens meander through 25 acres, with various smaller specialist areas such as medicinal plants, research gardens used by the university of Palermo, tropical garden, greenhouse, pinetum and aquarium. Other points of interest are numerous marble sculptures and a solar clock.

The garden are open every day.

Entry fee €5

Ibleo Park Ragusa Ibla

In the center of Ragusa Ibla, a hilltop Baroque city in southeast Sicily is Ibleo Park.

Sweeping views from the park take in the Irminio River Valley and the Iblei Mountains with Botanical and public gardens.

Created in 1858 by several local nobility Ibleo park offers visitors a cool, green oasis to wander and relax in.

Its main features are the wide avenues flanked by palms, fountains and water features, stone vases and panoramic views. The park is home to many Mediterranean plants and trees.

Red Hibiscus
Red Hibiscus
Elbeo Park

There are three churches within the park all with their own particular interests and history.

Take time to enjoy your surroundings away from the city bustle and noise, listen to the birds and perhaps partake of a refreshing gelato or the local granita, a sorbet like specialty made with ice and Sicilian lemons served with a warm Brioche.

Gambino Vineyard

During the trip to Mount Etna we visited Gambino vineyard, situated on the slopes of the volcano.

On arrival we were given a genuine, heartfelt welcome and handed a complimentary glass of white wine to savour while walking around the small garden and viewing area. This lovely vineyard and winery served 4 of their delicious wines, a white, rosé and two reds, paired with Sicilian cheeses, cured meats, spicy sausage with salad and a vegetable couscous, as well as Gambino winery’s own olive oil and herb dips.

The knowledgeable and friendly staff explained about each wine, grapes and production methods.

The wines tasted were exceptional and the bottles generously left with us for further top ups!

Good thing we weren’t driving.

Gambino vineyard was founded in 1978 by Mr. Vittorio Raciti and his wife Maria Gambino and remains in the same family today.

The winery and visitor centre is housed in a huge, light and airy building offering stunning mountain and countryside views. Well worth a visit.

With my horticultural experience of harvesting and pruning at vineyards I would love to be able to go back to help in the winter pruning season.

Entrance to Gambino Winery
Gambino Vineyard Mount Etna

 

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Places to Stay on Sicily

I can highly reccomend the Exselcior Palace Hotel Taormina, built in 1904 is preserves a wealth of charm and old world glamour and is situated approximately 10 metres from the Catania Gate entrance to Taormina town.

Other hotels or self catering accommodation in Sicily can be found in the following links. Sicily Hotels

 

I hope that this article has interested you and enticed you to visit Sicily, she really is a jewel in the Mediterranean crown. I will be returning there.

 

Please share with friends, family and on social media. Any questions or thoughts can be posted in the comments box below and I will reply as soon as I can.

Thank you.

Louise