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Along the mouth of the watercourse here known as the Freddo river rise some of the most beautiful beaches of the Sicilian Ionian coast . Several kilometers of sands that wind from the tourist port of Riposto – the Port of Etna – to the border with Giardini Naxos, formed by the lava cliffs of  Schisò.

A part of this territory has recently become a natural reserve. The aim is to protect the beauty of the river and the vegetation and fauna that grow and live around it daily. The reserve can be visited, open to all and very nice to live as an alternative experience to the classic tourist route. A new and beautiful summer will be waiting for you this year, perhaps right on these shores of the river Freddo.

The Natural Park

The river Freddo is not a large water stream. It starts just 2 km from the sea, from two sources – Quadara Grande and Capo d’Acqua. They, united, create this cold river which always remains at low temperatures, even in the heat of summer. Once, back in the past, the river formed a large swampy area which was drained in the mid-twentieth century. What remains is protected today by the special Oriented Natural Park established in 1985.

The reserve extends over 10 hectares of land, includes some cultivated areas and others of spontaneous vegetation. Here you find specimens of papyrus, marsh reeds, rushes . Some if its aquatic flowers  cannot be found anywhere else in  Sicily. The fauna consists of amphibians, reptiles and several species of fish, in particular eels. Visits can be made by reservation (095/4013625 – email: [email protected]) every day – except holidays – from 8:30 am to 1:30pm and from 3 to 5:30 pm.

The town of Fiumefreddo

The town that takes its name from the river (fiume) Freddo is Fiumefreddo di Sicilia, in the district of Catania. It is an ancient inhabited centre, dating back to the 13th century as a fief. Today  you can still admire  two eighteenth-century churches and a beautiful baroque palace called Castello degli Schiavi. In the perimeter of a citrus grove outside the town rises a former funeral monument dating back to Roman times, the so-called Red Tower.

An itinerary that includes Fiumefreddo must also involve two nearby cities: Giarre and Riposto. Practically a single urban centre divided only by the railway, these two cities once formed a single nucleus called Jonia. The name was taken up at the time of Fascism, but immediately after the end of the war it was abandoned again.

Ancient Jonia and the Port of Etna

fiumefreddo 02Today  two municipalities have replaced the former Jonia. They are friends-enemies and certainly independent of each other: Giarre and Riposto. Their names, as well as their history, are inseparable. Giarre derives from “jars”, the terracotta containers used for the long storage of food. They kept them stored in the closets (Riposto) before boarding. Giarre and Riposto form an efficient commercial centre that has existed for centuries.

In Giarre you can admire several eighteenth-century churches, among which the most important is the Cathedral of St.Isidoro. The city also has some interesting Art Nuveau architectures, such as Palazzo Bonaventura. Riposto is a town that gravitates around the central square where there is also the beautiful church of St. Peter, but the most beautiful monument is certainly its touristic marina, the Port of Etna!

Equipped to accommodate yachts of all sizes, the port offers many services for tourists and one of the most spectacular views of Mt.Etna. Riposto – and the nearby town of Mascali – have some of the most beautiful sandy beaches: Fondachello, Sant’Anna, Marina di Cottone, San Marco.

Autore: Grazia Musumeci

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