Pantelleria: a 3000 year long history… the Panteschi gardens

These are typical buildings of the island of Pantelleria, the Panteschi gardens were built to protect the plants from the strong winds that blow on the island in every season. Dating back to the dawn of the culture of the hot arid countries of the southern Mediterranean, these circular buildings, inside which is preserved, closed by a door, a single citrus tree, represent an ingenious self-sufficient agronomic system able to defend the citrus tree from the two main threats to its survival present on the island: the wind, which for its intensity and frequency causes damage incompatible with the survival of the trees and the scarcity of water that can sometimes lead to 300 days of uninterrupted drought.
One of the few examples of those still present on the island of Pantelleria in good condition, exactly in Contrada Khamma, and was generously donated to FAI by the historic Sicilian winery Donnafugata. The Pantelleria garden, which is located in a natural amphitheater consisting of terraces planted with vineyards with centuries-old plants of Zibibbo, has been completely and wisely restored. For its size and construction characteristics is the most common type on the island: the circular plant, the diameter (11 meters outside and 8.4 inside), the height (up to 4 m) and lava stone used dry guarantee, in fact, the best microclimate conditions. Inside the garden, an extraordinary and centuries-old plant of sweet orange “Portugal”, an ancient variety rich in seeds but also in sugar juice, which grows on several trunks until it occupies the entire available area.

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Origins and dimensions of the Pantesco Garden

Pantelleria’s gardens are rural architectural structures, almost always circular in shape, which are located on the island of Pantelleria, built with volcanic stones with dry technique, which have the prerogative of safeguarding a single plant of citrus fruits that is placed inside, from the fury of the wind, which is always present on the island.
In addition, given the slopes of the hills, the Pantelleria garden was built near the paths, so that rainwater, a very rare “commodity”, was channelled and conveyed through some bumps in the holes of entry and then addressed with ingenuity to the foot of the tree.
In Pantelleria there are at least 350 of them and the measurements normally vary from 7 to 12 metres in diameter, with a height of around 3.70 metres and a variable width of between 80 and 150 centimetres. The garden is accessed through an arched door.
In most cases, the edge of the drywall is tilted inwards at the top to direct more light and heat onto the canopy of the tree.