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August 9, 2010 / Sarah Moore


No, you have not misread the title ;-)…Forestiere Underground Gardens, in Fresno, CA really is a little gem and fun stop if you’re traveling down 99 or in the Fresno area and needing some relief from the heat, without the help of air conditioners. It’s also across the street from an In-n-Out which, to me, means it’s in the center of the universe.

The underground rooms are the creation Baldassare Forestiere, who came to the United States from Sicily where he grew up on a successful citrus farm (but wanted to escape his controlling father). Before landing in Fresno, he spent several years as a laborer building Subway tunnels in Boston. When he arrived in Fresno he hoped to fulfill a dream to build a citrus empire, but soon realized that he had just bought several acres of solid rock. In those times, the temperatures reached as high as 120 degrees farenheit in the summers. Suffering the heat in a little above-ground wooden house, he decided to dig a cellar for a place to cool off. The skills learned in the Subways of Boston paid off and soon he had carved out a charming 2-room cellar with a built-in stove, dining table of rock (with a citrus tree growing through the center toward a skylight) and two beds: one for the summer which was on the cool ground and the other in an alcove protected from cool drafts and moisture.

With visions of making his underground oasis into a resort for people to cool off in the summer, Forestiere chipped away at the hardpan soil for several more years, digging out an estimated 50 underground rooms (some of which were probably under where Highway 99 is today).  If I had to live in this area, I’d take a lesson from this guy. What a nice way to cool off without the monetary and environmental cost of running an air conditioner day and night. However, it’s not very likely I’ll have this problem as long as I live in San Francisco…

Click here to go to Forestiere Underground Gardens website.

underground gardens




Leave a Comment
  1. Patrick / Aug 9 2010 9:18 pm

    Holy moly, what a GEM, CA really has so many wonderful, unexpected, special places. How on Earth did you find this? I’m going, Fres-YES is right

  2. Dorth / Aug 10 2010 8:40 am

    It is also a great place to go if you’re trying to lose a toddler permanently as it feels like an underground maze.

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