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Giardino Pantesco Donnafugata, Pantelleria, Archivio FAI | © FAI

Donnafugata Garden in Pantelleria

The surprising microclimate generated by a lava-stone enclosure on the island of Pantelleria

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Donnafugata Garden eng
Overview

A simple lava-stone enclosure protects a single orange tree of an ancient variety against strong winds and ensures a supply of precious water. Despite the exceptionally dry, arid landscape, delicious oranges continue to grow on the tree.

Donated to FAI by the Donnafugata family in 2008.

The Khamma district of the island of Pantelleria plays host to a garden – the origins of which stretch back to 3,000 B.C. – that is a wonder both of nature and of human ingenuity. The garden was designed both to protect the plants from the strong winds that buffet the area throughout the year and to combat the lack of water that can result from periods of drought lasting up to 300 days at a time.

This garden, generously donated to FAI by the Donnafugata winery, is one of the few remaining on the island. Well-preserved over the years, it has now undergone a full-scale restoration. Externally, it is delineated by a roofless square-plan structure with a diameter of 11 metres and a height at certain points of 4 metres, with a single narrow opening affording access and small secondary apertures to allow rainwater to drain away. Inside, we can witness a small miracle: a single, extraordinary, centuries-old sweet-orange tree that fills the entire space. It not only survives but bears fruits rich in seeds and sugary juice thanks to an ancient, ingenious, self-sufficient agronomic system handed down to us.

The system uses the condensation generated by the temperature shiftbetween day and night, as well as the porosity of the thick, lava-stone walls, which are inclined towards the interior to capture the water directly from the atmosphere; the same stone is also used in the construction of channels to collect the rainwater. The garden is a stunning example of Pantellerian inventiveness that, building on the entirely Mediterranean tradition of the “walled garden”, succeeds in producing microclimatic conditions that meet the requirement for water even in the absence of irrigation.

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Visitor information
Opening hours

The Garden can be visited during the Donnafugata Wine Cellar opening times:

June, July, September, from Monday to Friday: 10.30 am – 1.30 pm; 5 pm – 8 pm

August, every day: 10.30 am – 1.30 pm; 5 pm – 8 pm

How to get there

By car:

from Pantelleria, take the road named “Strada Perimetrale dietro Isola” for 9 km and at the junction continue along Via Kamma until you reach the Giardino Pantesco.

Guided Tours

Guided tours are available from July to September, Monday to Friday, departing at 9.30am from the Cantine Donnafugata winery in Contrada Khamma. The visit lasts around one hour. Prior booking required.

Useful Advice

We recommend that you wear comfortable shoes.

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