Sometimes you have to go beneath the surface to find what you’re looking for. This was true for Baldassare Forestiere, and it will be for you, too, on one of our guided tours! All tours are by reservation to ensure the safety of our team, our guests, and our site.
Baldassare Forestiere, a Sicilian immigrant, came to America in 1901 to pursue his dreams of becoming a citrus farmer. In Fresno, California, Forestiere crafted a subterranean complex of patios, grottoes, and garden courts, all featuring arches and stonework using the local hardpan sedimentary rock. He became a self-taught artist, and patterned his underground world after the ancient catacombs he admired as a boy, near his home town of Filari, Sicily. No plans were put on paper; each room and passageway was created in Forestiere’s mind as he worked. With simple farm tools (a pick, a shovel, and a wheelbarrow) the young immigrant dug, chipped, and carved the unforgiving hardpan for 40 years, all in his spare time! By the time he was 44 years old, he had excavated and planted over 10 acres.