Giardino Pantesco Donnafugata
Isola di Pantelleria
Trapani, Contrada Khamma
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Tel. 0923 915649
Donnafugata donation - 2008
From July to September, open every day except Mondays, departing at 9.30am, from the Cantine Donnafugata in Contrada Khamma.
Duration of the visit: around one hour.
This Pantellerian garden (Giardino Pantesco), generously donated to the F.A.I. (National Trust for Italy) by Donnafugata, the historical Sicilian winery, is one of the exemplars still present on the island of Pantelleria – found in a good state of conservation and now completely restored. Dating from the dawn of culture in hot, arid Mediterranean countries, these cylindrical constructions, 7 to 12 meters (23 to 40 ft) in diameter and 3.5 to 4.5 meters (from 11 to 15 ft) high, have a door and enclose a single citrus tree; they are an ingenious, self-sufficient agronomic system able to protect citrus trees from the island’s two main threats to their survival: the wind, whose intensity and frequency can cause irreparable damage, and the scarcity of rainfall, at times leading to 300 consecutive days of drought. For its size and
construction features, the Donnafugata garden is the type most common on the island. Its circular layout, diameter of 11 meters (36 ft) outside, 8.4 meters (28 ft) inside, height up to 4 meters (13 ft) and lava stone laid dry provide the best microclimate for the garden, permitting an extraordinary century-old and sweet “Portugal” orange tree – an ancient variety full of seeds but also of delectable juice – to grow on several trunks, filling all the available space.
A history three thousand years old
The oldest depiction of a garden is the one on a Sumerian tablet of 3000 B.C., showing a fruit tree surrounded by a wall. This is the first testimonial to the concept from which the idea of a garden developed through the ages: an enclosed area in which to grow plants. The typical Pantellerian garden came straight from the “walledgarden” myth symbolizing life and the womb. In fact, utilizing the porosity of stone and the big changes in temperature between day and night to capture moisture from the air, plus stone and beaten earth ditches collecting rainwater, the Pantellerian garden provides enough water for the tree even without irrigation