[Guest post by Maria Francesca Starrabba in Palermo, Italy]
[Translated from Italian by Béliza Mendes]
My passion for gardens leads me to choose pleasant locations rich with vegetation during my outings of plein air drawing.
At the Palermo Botanical Garden (see sketch above), I recently sketched under the shade of a giant fig tree (Ficus magnolioide) while reading Léon Dufourny’s travel journal. Dufourny was a French architect who designed some of the oldest parts of the garden in the late 1700s.
Other exotic flora and subtropical species characterize the gardens of Villa Delle Niscemi and Villa delle Favare. The plants represent a historical record of the species that surrounded Palermo’s suburban villas back in the 19th century.
Villa Niscemi was built in the 18th century by the Prince of Valguarnera di Niscemi. It is adjacent to the Favorita Park and has been used as headquarters of the municipality of Palermo since 1987.
Villa delle Favare is located along the coast of the township of Romagnolo. The 19th-century exotic garden has many subtropical species that have adapted well to the Sicilian sun, including an impressive dragon tree (Dracaena draco), one of the garden’s main attractions.
Maria Francesca Starrabba is a landscape architect and teacher of Art History based in Palermo, Sicily, Italy. She has participated in events and exhibitions on the theme of ‘travel journals’ since 2013 and is a member of Urban Sketchers Italy. You can see more of Maria Francesca’s sketches here on her website, on her Facebook page and on Instagram.