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Villa Garibaldi

These are not tree trunks, but shoots or branches the banyan tree sends down to the ground that then root. This is not even one -third the diameter of the tree. This one happens to be the largest banyan tree on the European continent.
Filippo Basile, one of Palermo's finest architects, designed this small, square park in the Liberty style.It took three years to build and was inaugurated in 1864, just after Italian unification, and dedicated to the unifier, Giuseppe Garibaldi. The banyan trees that grow in it are humongous, and one of them is the largest in Europe. All but one of the tall palms has died or had to be cut down because of an island-wide infestation of "punteruolo rosso," a bug that ate them hollow. But other types of palms flourish there. There is also a dragon's blood tree from the Canary Islands, so called because its bark bears scales like a dragon's, and if you puncture the trunk it bleeds a blood-red sap.
Basile's task was to lighten up this square of land, about two acres, which had previously been the public execution grounds for people condemned by the "Holy Inquisition," which took place in the nearby Steri Palace of the Chiaramonte family. People would bring picnics to watch innocent people hang to death, or be burned alive. The executioners all lived in a street in the nearby Vucciria, still extent, called Cortile della Morte, Death Courtyard. Some address.
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