Castello ManiaceMarch 27, 2021
Table and TheatreApril 6, 2021
All photos © Antonino Gerbino
The Park of Villa Landolina
Leaving the island of Ortigia, the centre of cultural and economic life of Siracusa in the first half of the nineteenth century, you would have seen the countryside stretching in front of you, divided into ‘contrade’ with cultivated fields, mainly irrigated vegetable plots and citrus groves. Dotted here and there stood groups of the villas and gardens of the nobility.
Villa Landolina, a historic house of the 19th century, was the residence of the Landolina Interlandi family, whose famous ancestor, Saverio Landolina, was the Royal Superintendent of Fine Arts, archeologist, naturalist, a man of great culture and a benefactor, and who, amongst other things, discovered the famous statue of Venus Anadyomene, known as the Venus Landolina, and also identified and championed the protection of the botanical species of the spontaneous papyrus colony of Cyperus papyrus that grows along the banks of the Ciane River.
La tomba del poeta Von Platen
Reperti archeologici nel giardino
“…However there was a place near the Catacombs of San Giovanni where poets, travellers and illustrious men of culture used to converge, at Villa Landolina”, wrote the poet Salvatore Chindemi from Siracusa in 1841, as he described the villa on the occasion of the visit of the Austrian Emperor Maximilian.
Around the villa, built over a small quarry in the early 19th century, are niches, ‘loculi’ tombs with traces of inscriptions, paintings, hypogeums and a protestant cemetery where the poet from Bavaria, Von Platen is buried.
The garden is characterised by ancient plants with tall trunks, flora of a sub-alpine type and a rich undergrowth that changes with the seasons. It’s arranged around the villa, defined by a spatial relationship where the main gate is lined up with the principal facade of the house, and flowerbeds are arranged symmetrically and concentrically around certain focal points, surrounded by limestone blocks and stones from the coast, but also decorated tiles in terracotta from Caltagirone.
Some archaeological finds from the collection of the Paolo Orsi Archaeological Museum are displayed in the garden, inaugurated in this form in 1988, which makes a walk in the park particularly interesting.
The variations of the vegetation over the changing seasons and the great variety of the species means the garden is full of blooming plants all year round. Laurel, myrtle, rosemary, jasmine, hibiscus, and viburnum grow alongside palms, pines, holm oaks and citrus trees, and there are also plenty of exotic species, introduced long ago, like cypresses, plane and walnut trees, or Chamaecyparis and Tujas, and the plants that grow locally like periwinkle, verbena, chlorophytum, ivy and Antyllis barbajovis. All of the species are labelled with terracotta plaques.
Although the original project had planned the full integration of the museum and garden, it’s only in recent years that the garden has been restored, appreciated and protected as a natural area. It still can’t quite fulfill its role as a garden area destined for public use, as Saverio Landolina had imagined, because its access is conditioned by unsatisfactory management on the part of the public offices, including the lack of appropriate and constant maintenance on the one hand , and the limited access to the gardens on the other. In fact it is open only during the museum opening hours which is perhaps not enough if we consider that the museum is one of the most important in Europe.
Agronoma e paesaggista, socia dell’Associazione Italiana di Architettura del Paesaggio, da Dirigente della Soprintendenza Beni Culturali di Siracusa, ha coordinato gli aspetti tecnico-scientifici del Piano paesaggistico della provincia e ha collaborato alla perimetrazione del Parchi archeologici di Siracusa, Eloro e Leontinoi. Ha progettato e diretto i lavori di valorizzazione del giardino storico del Museo archeologico Paolo Orsi di Siracusa. Ha svolto attività di ricerca scientifica sulla vegetazione dell’area archeologica della Neapolis e sul verde naturalistico per il Piano di risanamento ambientale di Priolo e Augusta.