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Tourists arriving in Sicily almost always look for river Alcantara, and only river Alcantara. As if beyond the famous “river of the gorges” there was nothing else. Yet the Simeto river, which cuts the eastern part of the island diagonally to flow between Catania and Syracuse, is one of the most interesting and beautiful water sceneries. And in summer it is certainly one of the rivers to be rediscovered. For the Greeks it was the “father of the nymphs” (the god Simethos) for the Arabs it was “the river of Moses” (Wadi Mussah). And for us today? What is Simeto?

The Simeto River

The Simeto River starts 10 km west of Bronte, behind the great body of Etna, from the union of two streams. It flows for a certain time with the same torrential form, until it receives the waters of the important tributary river Troìna. The new thrust diverts the course of the river towards the south, surrounding the southern flank of Etna between lava canyons and jumps that have very little to envy to the albeit beautiful Alcantara gorges.

Between Adrano and Catania, the river receives other important tributaries: the Salso Cimarosa, the Dittaino, the Gornalunga. This means that the Simeto is the largest (but not the long est) river in Sicily, i.e. the one with the greatest flow of water. Near the coast, the Simeto finally widens into a spectacular mouth, near Primosole. Thus it flows into the Ionian Sea, cutting across a large sandy beach and a nature reserve of rare beauty called the Simeto Oasis.
Interesting places on the course of the Simeto

There are many interesting places that wind along the course of this great river. The medieval towns of Adrano and Paternò for example, large centers with a heart in the shape of a castle and baroque churches that recall the richness of the territory. Both are interesting to discover and experience, also because they are surrounded by unique natural wonders. Paternò is the city of the salinelle, the small mud volcanoes that recall an ancient volcanism. Adrano, on the other hand, rises a short distance from the Simeto gorges. The gorges are very steep ones, less spectacular than those of the Alcantara but just as rich in unique panoramas. They also include archaeological sites and medieval bridges within their perimeter.

The Saraceni Bridge is one of them. Even if rebuilt in modern times, its origins date to ancient Roman times, then modified with pointed arch shapes in the 12th century. The medieval structure was maintained even after the restoration and has come down to us today.

Important nature reserves open along the course of the Simeto. The Tratto Pietralunga, for example, is rich in typical fauna. And the Simeto Oasis, close to the mouth, very important above all for the passage and habitat of migratory birds, as well as being an interesting observation point for those who love birdwatching.

SIMETO_ (2)Recommended places for the summer (and how to reach them)

As a summer resort for the month of June, we suggest Saraceni Bridge. It is located near Adrano, easily reachable by car. It passes the Simeto in an area where the rocky gorges are not very steep and you can walk along the bank. Near the bridge there is also one of the rare “fords”, which you can travel by off-road vehicle (but in theory only forest rangers and professionals would be authorized to do so).

Nature is wild and alive in this area, the river is also highly enjoyable for families with children. The bridge can be crossed on foot and from its top you can photograph a beautiful panorama of the surrounding countryside and Mount Etna.

To reach the Saraceni Bridge: from the airport follow the Catania ring road up to the crossroads for Misterbianco and from here take the state road SS121 to Paternò, Adrano and Bronte. Exit at Adrano and cross the town, then follow the signs for the SP94 provincial road and the bridge. (photos by G Musumeci)

Autore: Grazia Musumeci

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