The terraced gardens of Casa Cuseni are a remarkable feat of careful design, sound construction and skilful engineering. To hold the winter rainfall until the summertime, Kitson designed a set of large cisterns under the front terrace and the pergola, for which several wells and the swimming pool made further provision.
The gardens were filled with citrus and other fruit trees as well as roses, vines and wisteria, some of which still adorn the terraces. They were an integral part of Kitson’s overall design, lined up on the axis of the house and enlivening the steep access to it. At every level there is a major feature to catch the eye, both from above and below the entrance court with its basin of papyrus and tall coloured stucco piers and pavement; the patterned-brick ramps and steps sweeping up around the lower parterre; the tribune and bastione with their with stucco strap-work and bold caricatures; the rococo stucco seating in the pergola; the noble stairway up to the main terrace with its sculpted fountain niche – all provide interest, diversion and even excitement in one’s ascent to the front of the house. Behind it are rather more distinctly separated gardens, with an architectural design –one with a jazzy tiled fountain prophetic of Art Deco design in Europe several years later; the jasmine draped swimming pool, and a large garden room with a ciottolato, citrus and iris beds, and a piscina with Tunisian-tiled and sculpture filled niches.
This was Kitson’s finest contribution to Italian garden design. It is very seldom that such gardens have been preserved and maintained. Taormina is filled with villas by recent building development, collapsed terraces and a sense of concrete destruction. Casa Cuseni preservers the main lines of its garden structure as well as an oasis for the birds of Sicily and those on migration.