In the course of the 19th century, around 1860, a beautiful orchard of almond trees was planted on the slope where today grow year round the lovely gardens of Villa Belvedere. Nowadays, the sole remaining tree of this long-gone plantation still blooms in January and February when its delicately scented white blossoms can be admired on one of the terraces of the hotel, then its fruit, the almond, grows in March and April to be picked in May.
During the 20th century, the almond trees of Villa Belvedere were slowly replaced by a variety of citrus trees such as lemon, orange, grapefruit and mandarind trees whose flowers subtly embalm the air of the gardens and whose fruit then embellish the scenery twice a year. To these fruit-bearing trees were also added banana-producing palm, avocado and olive trees bearing various shades of yellow and green. An ancient orchard was therefore transformed into a little Garden of Eden in the heart of the Mediterranean sea where birds happily sing their joie de vivre.
In this typical Mediterranean setting can be seen reaching for the blue sky the noble and gracious cypress, the great washingtonia, the grevillea, the pittospora as well as the kapok tree, a tree of vegetal wool, which turns into a colourful pink bouquet during the summer.
The marvellous bougainvillea, jasmine and hibiscus shrubs also provide another palette of vivid colours to the beautiful gardens.
With expert hands, the gardener of Villa Belvedere takes care of his little green ones day after after day, month after month, year after year. He carefully picks the seeds at the exact time of the season, then sows the seeds by hand as in the bygone days of the old almond orchard. With loving patience, he produces the next generation of plants and flowers.
The flowers adorning the terraces, boxes and pots of the cascading gardens have been locally grown for more than one hundred years at Villa Belvedere.
During the spring bloom, the first of the year, the enticing fragrance lingers in the air of the gardens for weeks while an enchanting decor is drawn by pelagorniums, forget-me-nots, eschscholzias, linen, silenas, poppies, daisies, narcissus, calla lilies, nasturziums and deeply-scented fresias.
The summer bloom produces a colourful masterpiece created by the ornemental sage, petunias, carnations, laurel trees and zinnias.
The lower level of the cascading gardens opens onto a very wide terrace which dominates a spectacular view of the Mediterranean sea and Mount Etna. It also surrounds a swimming pool where rises from its waters an island of greenery where has majestically stood for more than one hundred years a washingtonia palm tree.
Free translation from the Italian by Lillian Arsenault,
guest at Villa Belvedere since 1988.