Come back to Itaca

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“Come back to Itaca” is the production garden created for the second edition of the Radicepura Garden Festival, the Mediterranean Garden Biennial held in Giarre, Sicily. “Come back to Itaca” tells of the return journey home through a physical and mental path. The project is inspired both by the passage of the Odyssey in which Ulysses goes to Alcinoo’s palace and is impressed by the richness of its plants and by the poetry of Kostantinos Kavafis, Ithaca, which tells the story of Ulysses’ journey as a metaphor for life.

The focal point is not the destination but the journey as an opportunity for knowledge, a source of intangible wealth. “Come back to Itaca” proposes this journey through a spiral path defined by three semicircles made from iron rods placed vertically on which climbing plants cling (Passiflora edulis in the outer semicircle; Passiflora vitifolia, Passiflora ‘Panda’, Passiflora ‘Lady Margaret ‘, Passiflora‘ White Queen ‘, Passiflora‘ Incense ‘, Passiflora x violacea, Passiflora x belotii ‘Empress Eugenia ‘in the middle semicircle; Jasminum grandiflorum and Trachelospermum jasminoides in the inner semicircle).

With the archetypal form of inclusion, the garden protects and guards an intimate secret that will only be revealed by the most reckless traveler. As for Ulysses, also for the visitor, the journey will be the real source of enrichment. Before reaching the center, one last obstacle will have to be tackled: a water tongue symbol of ‘saja’, the irrigation system typical of the Sicilian countryside. Reached the center, the visitor will find a body of water that represents not only the main source of sustenance but also the sea to be crossed to reach Ithaca, symbolically represented by the stone placed there.

If on the one hand the visitor observes an increase in vegetative production near the water element, on the other hand he will enrich himself with thoughts and reflections by making an introspective sensory experience dictated also by the colors and scents of the aromatic plants (Lavandula dentata, Origanum vulgare, Mentha x piperita, Thymus vulgaris). At the end of the route the visitor will find himself on an arid ground, a desert on which only succulent plants (Euphorbia tirucalli and Trichocereus pasacana) grow, but transformed by the saja, which allows you to irrigate a lemon tree, and the knowledge gathered during the trip.

Project details

Designers: NaCl Team (Sandro Del Lesto, Silvia Giuffrida, Martina Pappalardo)
Location: Giarre (Catania), Italy
Typology: ephemeral garden
Built: April 2019
Area: 50 mq
Client: Radicepura Garden Festival
Cost: 10.000 € + other sponsorships
Supplier/Sponsor: Aeroporto di Catania, Cuscunà Srl, Damiano Siragusa, Piante Faro, Giuffrida Giuseppe e Antonio Srl
Photo Credits: © Alfio Garozzo, Martina Pappalardo, Tuglio Pullia

NaCl Team

NaCl Team

NaCl Team is a design workshop based in Catania, Sicily, founded by architects Sandro Del Lesto, Silvia Giuffrida and Martina Pappalardo. After pursuing academic and professional paths in Italy and abroad, the three met on the island to develop together projects of an architectural and landscape nature, capable of integrating technology, experimentation and narrative. In 2018 they were selected by the Biennale del Giardino Mediterrano “Radicepura Garden Festival” to create the garden “Come back to Ithaca” with which they won the Gardenia Prize. The project is published in Gardenia issue 426-October 2019 and in the volume 100 Italian Projects 2019. In 2019 they are selected by NIB-New Italian Blood as one of the best 10 studios under 35 for the Landscape/Public Space section, receiving the 2019 NIB PRIZE. In 2020 the garden “Pandora’s Box” will be realized at the “Festival Internacional de Jardins de Ponte de Lima”.