The mediterranean garden of Pietrarsa

Published in Out of Town
30 March 2018

A green oasis overlooking the sea with plants from all areas of the world with a Mediterranean climate. A unique and fascinating view and a must during your trip to Campania 


We find ourselves in a large Mediterranean garden that from Portici, along the coastline, looks at the city of Naples. A peculiar and really fascinating sight.

Behind us we have the National Railway Museum of Pietrarsa, a symbolic place in the history of Italian railways. With the Naples-Portici line, here was laid the first stone of what would become the first Italian railway network. The first track, built in the beautiful country, dates back to 1839, when Ferdinando II di Borbone commissioned a railway to reach one of his residences from Naples: the Palace of Portici, his summer residence. In 1842 a real factory was built for the construction and maintenance of railway locomotives and wagons.

After years of neglect, the FS Foundation has restored the pavilions and the external areas, returning the site to complete use and making it a jewel for railway modeling enthusiasts.

The garden overlooking the sea was designed and built by the Botanical Garden of the Agricultural Sciences Museum of Portici of the Federico II University of Naples. Initially it was a large area populated by very few species, among which dominated the oleander and the pittosporo. Then it was structured as a botanical garden dedicated to species from all areas of the world with a Mediterranean climate. So today we can admire it divided by geographical areas: Australia, California, Chile, South Africa and the Mediterranean Sea basin.

The creation and management of the garden created various problems related in particular to the constant exposure to salt air and recurrent intrusions of the sea that, during storms, overcomes the cliff, submerging the flower beds. Today, two years after the first installation (2015), the plants that initially showed signs of suffering have begun to adapt to the extreme conditions of the site.

A visit to this garden is a unique experience to learn about the phenomenon of morphological convergence and to be able to observe closely how plants from very distant areas, but with the same environmental conditions, have adapted to the Mediterranean climate in a similar way.

Particularly striking is the flower bed of California with its copious blooms or that of Chile: alternating shrubs, palms and succulent plants. The Australian flowerbed is instead characterized by vigorous and tenacious bushes; while the South African and Mediterranean ones, the ones most exposed to the salt air and the impetuous winds, present small shrubs and perennial herbaceous that strenuously fight against the bad weather, generously blooming during fall and spring.

The garden of the Pietrarsa Railway Museum is also a must for gardening enthusiasts who have the opportunity to closely monitor the use of useful plants in unfavorable environmental conditions.

To learn more: www.museodipietrarsa.it