The Carsiana Botanical Garden is located within a dolina or sinkhole in the municipality of Sgonico, 18 km from the city of Trieste, along the main road connecting the villages of Sgonico and Gabrovizza.
Founded in 1964 as a private initiative by a group of local scholars and enthusiasts, the garden has been designed with the aim of collecting, conserving and exhibiting the native flora and vegetation of the Karst in its natural context. The native plant species of the Karst are gathered together within the garden with each being located in its respective environment, which are laid out along the various slopes of a dolina.
The Karst is a limestone plateau, running north-west south-east situated across a large area divided between Slovenia, Croatia and Italy. The Italian part includes the Karst of Trieste and the part overlooking the Isonzo in the province of Gorizia, covering about 500 km2 between the natural boundaries represented by the north-eastern coast of the Gulf of Trieste toward the southwest, the marly-arenaceous basin of the river Vipava to the north-east, the alluvial plain of the river Isonzo to the North and North-West and the tectonic fault formed by Val Rosandra Valley to the south-east togerther with the marly-sandstone of the Beka Očisla basin and karst around Podgrad.
The limestone substrates are very porous leading to a widespread aridity that can be exacerbated locally by the presence of bare, heat-reflecting rocks. The high permeability of this substrate is due to the fracturing of the limestone rocks that allowed the sinking networks of passages carrying water that today are totally underground, resulting in a hydrography that can be found at at 200-500 m below ground (Poldini, 1972). Karstic activity can also be seen its creation of underground cavities that generally follow the arrangement of the layers with pot-holes that develop at the sub-vertical fractures.
The karst lakes of Doberdò and Pietrarossa and the torrent in Val Rosandra are almost the only examples of surface water.
About 600 species of flora have been collected in the 5000 m2 dedicated to the botanical garden. The area was chosen because, in this small scrap of land, naturally represented, are all the major geomorphological conformations of the karst landscape with which respective plant formations have been associated. The natural layout of the garden has made it possible to structure the botanical display according to the site’s ecological characteristics and not following any laws of systematics, thus allowing a more intuitive understanding of the link between the vegetation, climate and geology. Carsiana therefore aims to be a “synthesis of the karst landscape”, providing the visitor with a comprehensive overview of the main ecological aspects of the area.
The habitats which the visitor encounters at Carsiana are:
The plant display is complemented by some flower-beds dedicated to the native medicinal plants of the Karst.
The garden has received the support of the Province of Trieste since 1972, which in 2002 took over the ownership.
You can make a visit to Carsiana individually, with the help of interpretative materials in a range of languages (Italian, Slovenian, English and German), provided by the staff running the garden. In addition, you can always ask for guided tours (in Italian, Slovenian or English) for groups or individuals. There are also educational activities and workshops for schools as well as recreational and educational activities for youngsters.
The garden is open from May to October with the following schedule:
Tuesday-Friday: 09.30 – 13.00
Saturday-Sunday and public holidays: 10.00-13.00, 15.00-19.00
The cost of entry is:
€ 3.00 full
€ 2.00 reduced
Tuesday - Friday at 10.00
Tuesday - Friday at 10.00
Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays at 10.30 and 16.00
Guided tours can also be booked at other times.