Palermo’s English garden

 Paul and I have been in Italy  for a month, and we have enjoyed many wonderful Italian green spaces, so I’m turning Canberra’s Green Spaces into Italy’s Green Spaces for a month or so.

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this stunning Cathedral in Palermo was built in 1184 and has been transformed and re-built many times over the centuries.

Two years ago Paul retired to begin a PHD, and eighteen months later he was accepted to give a paper at an International Conference in Palermo, the capital city of Sicily. He is a good example of how retirement can bring a new and rewarding chapter to your life…and I’m very much enjoying being his support team and blogging about green spaces at the same time!

Palermo is a teeming colourful city with a grand history reflected in its buildings. It was once known as ”the garden city” because of its parks. These parks are centered around the city and are well used, and much needed with a population of city dwellers.

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Whenever we travel, I look for the parks to restore my energy….no more so than in  Palermo. This beautiful and well kept park is named The English Garden (Giardino Inglese) after a style of landscape that emerged in England in the 18th Century and spread across Europe.

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This style, typically, presented an idealised view of nature, and usually included, a lake or water feature, and gently rolling lawns set amongst groves of trees.

In the background of the photo below, a gardener is hand watering the lawn. Palermo has very hot summers and water must be precious.

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In the 18th Century parks were a sign of power and wealth, and were designed to compete and impress. Plants from all over the world were imported to create an exotic environment.

The banana trees do look exotic in this park, and fig trees are wonderfully sheltering and cool on a hot summer’s day.

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This English garden has many sculptures and a temple designed by Ernesto Basile, inspired by Arab-Norman architecture.

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Unfortunately, not all the fountains were active the day we were there, but what a peaceful cool place to sit..

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There is an impressive statue of Guiseppe Garibaldi  on the opposite side of the Viale della Liberta sculpted by Vincenzo Ragusa in 1891.

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I often notice people reading in parks, and this fig tree is giving wonderful shade and protection to its readers.

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In cities teeming with millions of people, where living conditions are often cramped, parks are such a vital part of the city. Here in Palermo  they are used all day long …

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And here we have a group of young school children, being brought to the park by a wonderful young teacher and her assistant…as the children held onto a rope, the teacher sang a song all the way across four lanes of crazy traffic….what a class act!

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We visited many parks in Palermo, not all as well kept as this one, but all being used and enjoyed, probably more today than at any other time.

Copyright Geraldine  Mackey. All rights reserved.


I hope you can join me again soon to look at Villa Giulia in Palermo…this park had many plants very similar to the ones of my childhood home in Zambia (Central Africa) Nothing like plants to bring back memories!


24 Replies to “Palermo’s English garden”

  1. Such a thrill to see how the other half live and enjoy life. Good to have Green Spaces back in action again.

    1. Thanks Judy, we did enjoy Italy…the whole trip was quite unexpected which made it all the more enjoyable. And the Italians are very good at ”joie de vivre”…and we enjoyed that too. However, always nice to be home and I’m enjoying all the summer blog postings from the northern hemisphere too.

  2. Great photos, Gerrie. How wonderful to spend a whole month in Italy. Looks like you had great weather. Love the teacher with her obedient brood. 🙂

    1. Yes, a month in Italy was terrific….the weather was a bit patchy in other parts of Italy, but Palermo was lovely and sunny. Glad you liked the teacher, I was full of admiration!

  3. Italy is one of my favorite places in the world and this park is stunning. How fortunate to be able to spend time there. Congratulations to your husband ~ quite an accomplishment for him!

    1. Yes, Italy is quite unique isn’t it? I’ll pass on congrats to Paul, yes, I admire what he has achieved in 18 months of his PHD, and another 18 months to go!

  4. That must have been a wonderful opportunity to visit Sicily and a great thing to do in your husband’s semi retirement!. Palermo park looks wonderful, I love the many parks in London they offer so much to those living in the city. Sarah x

    1. Yes, it was lovely to go to Italy with an extra sense of purpose. I agree about parks in cities, they are so important…especially these days of high-rise living and also so much unemployment.

  5. A month in Italy?Wow!!! What a lovely place, that mountain is magnificent! I’m the same re searching for green spaces….I need them to breath. That ancient fig is simply beautiful. Looking forward to hearing more about your

    1. The fig trees in Sicily and all over southern Italy were amazing….glad you enjoyed the tour, I always enjoy your posts and pets!

    1. Yes, the fig trees were amazing…and in the middle of a Sicilian summer they would be wonderfully shady.

    1. Yes, always lovely to come across a park in a city, and the fig trees in Sicily were amazing……thanks for the comment..

  6. I never knew that Palermo had an English Garden until I saw it while I was on a bus in Palermo. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to tour it, so I really enjoyed your post and remarkable photos, Gerrie. Your love of gardens is quite apparent!!

    1. Thanks Margie. Palermo is an amazing place isn’t it? The buildings and the gardens really show the history….the bigger the city, the more I look for the parks!!

  7. The statue of Garibaldi was sculpted by Vincenzo Ragusa (my great-great uncle). The base may have been made by Mario Rutelli.

    1. My apologies for crediting the statue to Mario Rutelli, I will edit that piece to acknowledge Vincenzo Ragusa. Congratulations on having such a talented great-great-grandfather, this statue was one of the most striking in Palermo.

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