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If you are looking for a particular place to admire in winter on our volcano, Mount Etna, they will suggest dozens of beautiful locations, where the snow accumulates, where the woods with the colours of the cold season are combined with the lovely mountain shelters… But we suggest, instead, a place that few people know: the Valle delle Muse (Valley of the Muses). You find it on the southwestern side of the volcano, near the city of Adrano.

The ancient testimonies of Adrano

Adrano has always been an important city for this corner of Etna. Since ancient times it was a point of reference served by more than one commercial route. Suffice it to say, that the name of the town of Paternò derives from “Per Adernon”, i.e. the directions to get to ancient Adrano.

Today the city is an agricultural center that is increasingly being rediscovered as a cultural and historical-artistic destination. It focuses above all on the ancient Greek-Roman and Saracen heritage and on the natural beauty of the nearby Simeto river. Right near Adrano lies the Cannemasche hamlet, where the river creates a bend and the water constantly erodes the columnar lavas along its banks. Locals call this place the Valley of the Muses.

valley of the muses 2
mysteries near the Simeto river

What you will see in the Valley of the Muses

What immediately catches the eye is a large sandstone rock overlooking the watercourse. It is an irregular stone, perhaps because it was sculpted by the elements, or perhaps not. On its surface there are square holes, which are not at all random but certainly the work of men. What were they for? And why are they here?

At first glance it seems to be tubs. Pools dug into the bare rock and connected to each other as if to form a sort of fountain, or a sacrificial altar. Is this really a religious testimony of populations who were here long before the Greeks? Or of rudimentary religious forms of the very first Hellenic settlers? Many associate Simeto with Greek myths linked to the rivers (such as Aci river), which were always linked through love or drama stories to the water nymphs. From this interpretation – due to a mistaken association of ideas – the nymphs become “muses” and the place takes on that name.

In addition to these very ancient rock artefacts, in the so-called Valley of the Muses you can admire the Simeto river and some corners of spontaneous vegetation of rare beauty. Also worthy of attention are the columnar basalts which are very similar to the much more numerous ones which embellish the course of the Alcantara river’s famous gorges. Just 6 km from the Valley of the Muses you can admire the pointed arch bridge called “dei Saraceni”, also over the Simeto river.

Why come here in winter

Why come to the Valley of the Muses in winter? Partly to have the opportunity to explore the place in peace, without the hassle of summer tourists looking for a bit of entertainment in Simeto. Partly because the winter colours are beautiful, and the snow rarely reaches these areas. Finally, the course of the Simeto in winter is slightly lower – certainly not as full as in spring nor as scarce as in summer – and offers particular views. Finally, exploring Adrano in winter is a rewarding and intense experience, which we recommend everyone to try.

How to get to Valley of the Muses

To reach Adrano, from Catania just take the state roads 284 or 121. From Adrano, travel by car for 8 km along the SP94 you reach the area with signs for the river and the indicated location of the Valle delle Muse.

In detail …

To find out more about the Valley of the Muses and to admire wonderful photos of the place, visit the page signed by FRANCESCO GIORDANO at this link.

Autore: Grazia Musumeci

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