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It all started from here, from the hill you will immediately see as soon as you arrive. It stands there, green and quiet, covered with peach trees, but once it was a volcano. From Mount Mojo, in fact, came out the lava stream that – 3000 years ago – covered the route along river Alcantara and reached the coast now called Capo Schisò, in Giardini Naxos. In the 17th century, around this old dormant crater, Mojo Alcantara was founded. Today the village counts 800 inhabitants.

If you go to the Alcantara Gorges or to visit the beautiful churches of Randazzo, do not forget to stop for a while in Mojo as well. It won’t take a long time to visit the town and the surroundings and you will take with you a different view and… taste of Sicily: the taste of peach, which is the pride and the main product of the place.

The tale of the burning wheat sheaf

An old local tale explains the meaning of the name Mojo connecting it to the ancient word mòdio. The mòdio was a container to keep harvest and it is told that a long long time ago a smart and mean farmer had stolen his brother’s wheat. He had slowly collected so much wheat to build a whole hill in the backyard of his farm. But God punished him and he was struck by a lightning while on top of his big wheat sheaf.  Both the mean farmer and his wheat were burned and that is why Mount Mojo’s land is so fertile, due to its own ashes!

What to see in Mojo

mojo alcantara 02Being a town born from an old feud, the most “ancient” monuments in Mojo are the Town Hall – former home to the local lord Lanza – the ruins of the church of St Anthony and the rectory, now restored and painted in white and blue. Worth the visit to the Main Church dedicated to St Joseph, whose modern and simple building keeps a very old Crucifix (17th century). This statue was carved in wood by the artist priest Umile da Petralia, and it survived a fire in recent times too. The people call it U Signuruzzu (our lovely Lord).

In the surroundings of Mojo Alcantara it is certainly worth visiting Mount Mojo, which is reachable thanks to the paths that lead to its top, and of course the Alcantara river that runs very close to the centre. It takes 10 minutes by car to get to the Gurne of Alcantara, the flat part of the river’s bed that -through some water “jumps”- goes towards the canyon that will become the most famous Gorges. Near the Gurne of Alcantara, admire the Byzantine church of St. Nicola, in the territory of Castiglione di Sicilia, and the nearby Church of Cuba.

How to get there

If you can, come to visit Mojo Alcantara at the end of August when the famous Peach Festival is held, and you can bring these fruits with you in any way you like, even as a bottled syrup. Or you can come in September for the procession of U Signuruzzu crucifix. Getting here is very easy: from Messina or from Catania the road is unique, that is the A18 Messina-Catania highway. Take Giardini Naxos exit and continue towards Francavilla and Gole dell’Alcantara, on the State Street 116 to Randazzo.

Autore: Grazia Musumeci

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