In 1901 an Italian immigrant came to the U.S. By 1906 he had traveled from New York to California and began a new life as a farmer. His name was Baldassare Forestiere and he built something truly extraordinary once he got to Fresno: a mysterious-looking underground house with sunny courtyards and citrus trees growing under the earth. See more about this unique (and expansive) place below.
It might look strange, but this home was no bunker. It was built to escape the summer heat of California. Forestiere began digging his new home by hand. His plan was to create an underground house. Over the course of 40 years, he created a winding set of rooms, complete with kitchen, bedrooms, a fountain, and citrus trees that grow beneath the surface in the courtyard.
The trees get their light from grates in the ceiling and there are more than 20 varieties of trees growing underground here. It was a bit of a departure from the citrus groves that Forestiere imagined when he first moved there, but is now a monument to his creative vision.
The arched stone pathways through this mysterious-looking space make it seem like something that could be hiding under the Vatican or under the streets of Paris. And, this is because Forestiere was inspired by the catacombs near his home in Sicily. The Old World look certainly adds to the charm of the site and it’s incredible to think all of it was done via manual labor.
Today, the family run this attraction and give tours 6 days a week in the warmer months. The underground tunnels were dug using no dynamite and expand to over 10 acres. The site is on the Register of Historic Places and is a California Historical Landmark.
Have a closer look at the Forestiere Underground Gardens and the history of the site in the video below.