The university of Catania is the earliest one
in Sicily; it was founded by Alphonsus the Magnificent of
Arragon in 1434. The first Chair of Botany was established only
in 1788 within the context of Medical and Chemical studies.
Seventy years later, in 1858, Francesco Tornabene Roccaforte, in
a benedictine monk and holder of the Chair of Botany, strongly
contributed to lay the foundation of the eagerly awaited
Botanical Gardens. The buildings were originally designed by the
Chair of Architecture, Prof. Mario Distefano, whilst Prof.
Tornabene saw to the plant arrangement.
The Main Building
The Institute Buildings as referred to in the
original plan designed by architect Distefano and approved in
1857 comprised the Lecture hall, the Herbarium, and a library.
Situated at the end of the central path widening in the shape of
a semicircle from the main gate in Via Etnea, the building
façade appears to be larger than it really is thanks to an
outstanding portico with double-lined columns on top of a white
marble staircase. The building columns are of the ionic order,
the ceiling is coffered.
Main Collections the Succulents
The numerous plants being grown in the
Botanical Gardens are arranged in collections, some of which are
quite remarkable. The collection of succulents plants
is certainly the most relevant of the general garden; due to
their peculiar shapes and structures they are amongst the most
interesting plants from a didactic and ornamental point of view.
By way of subsequent acquisitions, the collection currently
comprises about 2000
being grown both outdoors and in greenhouses
The Palm Collection
No less interesting is the Collection of
Palms, due to Sicily’s mild climate they can be cultivated
outdoors.This collection consist of about one hundred specimens,
some of which quite large in size.
Orto botanico: via Antonino Longo 19, Catania, Opening: from monday to
friday h.9,00-13,00, sunday closed. Visits on request.