The garden of Casa Pennisi is one of the few Italian gardens that have resisted to property speculation assaults: the garden has maintained its original structure and dimension even though it is based in the heart of Acireale, where it was planted at the end of the XIX Century as frame to the prestigious Grand Hotel des Bain. The Grand Hotel was built by the Florentine architect Mariano Falcini to host the clients of the contemporary Terme di Santa Venera in an harmonious environment, and counted among its hosts the Italian Royal family and Wagner.The garden was as well designed by Mariano Falcini, who characterised it with a classical structure, with paths delimitated by high box hedges and impressive flower-beds. Tropical plants, that can still be admired, were also inserted together with Mediterranean essences creating an incredibly fascinating and attractive ensamble. As a result, nowadays ancient palms (Washingtonia, Chamaerops, Poenix), colossal Yuccas, Sterlizias, Guaiabos, Cycas, Laracandas, Chorysias come towards visitors, surrounded by walnut trees, cluster pines and mulberries.
The box hedges gave way to more charming borders of Chlorophytum elatum with variegated leaves, whereas the Dicondra lawn creates and homogeneous and bright space between the flower-beds, highlighting the overall design of the garden and the open areas created following the recent renovation between the majestic arboreal groups, together with the hortensias, the clivias, the hibiscus, the lantana, the roses and the daturas.
Focal point of the garden is a splendid wrought iron gazebo, with an elegant grid having a wisteria climbing on it, and the cobbled paving placed in geometrical shapes. The gazebo is surrounded by blue agapanthus, rose bushes, Macrantha geraniums and coloured Dimorfotecas.
A step further a circular basin shows an ancient earthenware fountain representing two playing boys: the fountain hosts water lilies, papyri, lotus flowers and has around it maidenhairs and flowering ferns.
Moving forward a spectacular sculpture of Phoenix reclinata designs incredible squiggles with the torsion of its long and flexible trunks. Next to the Phoenixes, the tiny structures where wild animals were hosted are covered with hibiscus and hidden by box hedges, whereas an old pagoda-shaped aviary shows up just after the entrance; from the marble stairs leading to the garden a long and narrow path reaches a second basin, with a beautiful wrought iron railing, with the remains of an old pictorial decoration - today almost lost - embellishing the portion of wall on the background. Close to the basin, a precious Greek-cross plan structure is waiting to be restored. Inside the structure, it is still possible to catch a glimpse of painted canvas representing elegantly dressed women within the panels occupying the walls, of the sculpted wooden frames surrounding the family's coat of arms and of the beautiful wrought iron barriers. This sort of little temple, cosy and harmonious, is the place were ladies in the XIX Century used to have tea, and has the roof artificially covered with a cascade of lava stones, symbolising and old eruption and the protection the building offered to ladies against the dangers of the close Mount Etna. Close to the building, tiny wrought iron stairs lead to a lookout from where it was once possible to admire the volcano.
On the edge of the garden, a little church of the XVII Century, with its great marble altar, enlarges the area that can host cultural happenings.
Finally, within the XIX Century main building, occupied by the owners, an elegant apartment ensures the possibility to accommodate tens of hosts and to hold exclusive receptions.