I am constantly amazed by the soothing power of plants – they comfort you, they calm you, they have a balmy power just by their simple existence and abundance. And it is one of my traditions to visit botanical gardens wherever I travel. Last year I traveled to Sicily and a visit to the famous Orto Botanico di Palermo was a must on my itinerary. The botanical garden of Palermo is one of Italy’s most important academic institutions and boast more than half a million plant species in a vast outdoor garden and several greenhouses.
When I arrived at the Orto Botanico di Palermo I opted for a guided tour by a local plant expert who are usually at disposal right at the entrance to the botanical garden. This service is on tip base and is so worth it – you will see the botanical garden with different eyes, that is with the eyes of a botanist. On every step you will discover new trees, many of which were loaded with ripe fruits of all kinds, you will learn of herbs, edible plants, special varieties as well as about the garden’s history and rare, odd happenings (like unusually cold winters with snowfall or crazy storms affecting the plants in the garden).
The botanical garden in Palermo is one of the richest botanical gardens I have visited so far. With rich I mean the variety of plants I have spotted. Thanks to its location this botanical garden features a wide array of Mediterranean and local, endemic plant species as well as many tropical plants – I have seen trees with ripe papayas, cocoa beans, coffee, soapberry trees (Sapindus) with which fruits you can actually wash your hands just as with a soap. The garden features giant bamboos and ponds with the rare Egyptian lotus.
The Orto Botanico di Palermo is located in the old part of the town known as Kalsa and is not far away from the city’s harbor on the seafront. If you ever end up in Palermo, don’t miss it and save a full morning or afternoon for the visit of the botanical garden to fully enjoy and appreciate it.
Orto Botanico di Palermo, Via Lincoln 2, Palermo/Italy
Photography by Igor Josifovic