Situated in Rockefeller Park, this garden is nestled on a hillside between East Boulevard, Martin Luther King, Jr., Drive, and Parkgate Avenue. Inspired by Italian Renaissance gardens, this axial design on two levels, is animated by distinct water features. The upper section, attributed to B. Ashburton Tripp, was dedicated in 1930 to commemorate Columbus Day and the 2000th anniversary of Virgil’s birth, while the lower section, designed by James Lister, was completed in 1939.
The upper section includes two axial, perpendicular stone walks set atop a relatively level lawn. The primary axis connects the main East Boulevard entrance, flanked by stone pillars and asymmetrical plantings of ginkgos. At its terminating plaza is an overlook with a centrally located fountain modeled on the one at Villa Medici in Rome which also sits in an octagon pool basin. A secondary axis links statuary monuments honoring Virgil and Dante Alighieri.
Past the fountain, a rectilinear balustraded overlook affords visitors views of the arced court directly below and of the forested landscape beyond. From the overlook, symmetrical, concave stone staircases gracefully descend to the paved court. The southeast wall features a recessed fountain and portrait reliefs of Italian artists, philosophers, and poets. Opposite the fountain, a low, arced wall defines the edge of the court and includes a continuous stone bench, shaded by sycamores, planted on the sloped lawn outside of the garden. The exterior of the curved court wall is embellished with two arced terraces, planted with flowering shrubs.
The garden is supported by the Italian Cultural Garden Foundation and is a contributing feature of the Rockefeller Park and Cleveland Cultural Gardens Historic District, listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.