Gioeni Park dominates the city

#Gioeni #Park #dominates #city

Its charm is romantic, wild and authentic and less known than you think.
A perfect adventure, which awaits you for a late summer afternoon …

The Via Etnea, seen from above, looks like a long river, moved by people and cars, which divides Catania in two.
An old black and white postcard that I hold in my hands reveals this same panorama: it can be seen beyond the vegetation, behind some prickly pear shovels.
The city is constantly changing under this hill, at the foot of the park, but the view from its terrace never ceases to take your breath away.

The Gioeni Park it is the largest garden in Catania and dominates it from above, it extends for about eight hectares, surpassing its elegant rival, the Villa Bellini, in size.
This park has no liberty cloisters or refined flower beds; its charm is romantic, wild and authentic.
The garden is modeled on a volcanic terrain, of which it follows the impervious lines, thanks to a series of terraces in lava stone, which recall its identity.

The sciara, irregular but harmonious, is adorned with Mediterranean vegetation: the olive trees cling to the rocks, the oleander, the bougainvillea and the agave grow free looking for the sun.
Between the volcanic earth and the green, paths wind and panoramic terraces open up; the central one, on top of an imposing pyramid of black blocks, looks like a throne that towers over the city and observes it.

The land on which it stands was owned by several families from Catania, the gardens that were located here, from where we now admire the city, and which also included the area now occupied by the road and the roundabout of the Tondo Gioeni, belonged in the past to Giuseppe Gioeni Schininà, Carmelo Barbagallo and Baron Felice Spitaleri.
The first design of a park, this park, north of the city, a few steps from the ring road, dates back to 1931.

The original project, included in the city master plan, drawn up by the architect Michelangelo Mancini, was then abandoned, like all plans for the future, due to the outbreak of the Second World War.
Finally, in 1972, the executive project was approved, but, despite various funding from the Sicily Region, the works went slowly.

I was a little girl when a competition was launched, aimed at middle schools, which asked students to imagine their new green refuge and to create a model, which could best show their ideas.

My classmates and I had learned to cut polystyrene with hot knives, to reproduce the terraces, which would soon become real, and to sow them with small lampposts and tufts of moss.
the Gioeni Park, in fact, dedicated to Giuseppe Gioeni D’Angiò, a naturalist and volcanologist who lived between the 18th and 19th centuries, was only inaugurated in the mid-nineties.
Since then, the garden has been redeveloped (and vandalized) more than once.

In 2015 the commemorative plaques of the “Righteous“(Those who had distinguished themselves for their acts of generosity during the war), along the main avenue, and, on that occasion, the sculptor Leonardo Cumbo created the work” traversolfinitoamorecolmo “, which still welcomes us when we are about to explore the park.

As we move away from the avenue, in a green and shaded area, a group of ladies, each with their mattress under their arm, meet for yoga.
From a distance, a regular noise reaches us, like a wave always followed by a thud, which guides us to the Skatepark, the concrete track for skateboards.
Few of us know that, a few steps from there, camouflaged among bushes and brambles, there is a small cave of volcanic origin, created by one of the many flows that in ancient times crossed this place.

If, on the other hand, we decide to take one of the quieter paths, heading north, we would find ourselves, with great amazement, in front of the historical testimony of a great work: the long stretch of a monumental aqueduct.
The sturdy wall of arches, built of red brick and lava stone blocks, which today appears to be part of the natural landscape, supported the canals of the aqueduct that for centuries served the Benedictine Monastery and many other areas of the city.

In fact, the monks owned lands and water mills on the sides of the Leucatia hill, where, starting from the mid-1600s, the construction of this imposing structure began.
The water from the springs, numerous in this area, was conveyed into a large cistern (or “water barrel”), and then followed the natural slope of the land, kept constant thanks to the arches.

Along the way, the collection tanks allowed the irrigation of the neighboring lands and access to the most precious commodity, for the inhabitants of the various neighborhoods.

The Gioeni Park, despite being clearly visible from the streets, despite having hosted large and small musical events in the past, remains a place yet to be discovered for many people from Catania. A perfect adventure, which awaits you for a late summer afternoon …

Sicilian news 2022-06-23 05:31:00

This post is also available in: English French Spanish