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The Gorges of River Alcantara are a real worldwide tourist attraction, today. Those who come to visit Sicily want to see them, or ask for them, all the time. Could they be wrong? How can you resist the beauty of those prehistorical lavic walls carved by the river during centuries? How can you resist those colours, magic view nobody should ever miss? But tourists often just stop there. The Gorges, what else? River Alcantara, though, is much more than this.

River Alcantara Natural Park

Founded in 2001, this Natural Park has the aim to protect the nature all along the river’s bed. At the same time, it offers new and different tourist routes that go beyond the “famous Gorges”. This canyon, in fact, is just the final part of a long way starting from the mountains far away. It goes through the plains near Randazzo, water pools near Castiglione, water falls and finally gorges in the territory of Motta Camastra, then flowing to the sea.

The Park’s board rules the entrance to the Gorges, the descent via elevator down to the river’s bed. It also plans the natural routes to get down to its bed, a more tiring but more beautiful walk. There are various ideas for itineraries. For example, by following the Alcantara you shall walk on paths leading to Castiglione di Sicilia and its medieval castle, to old crater Mojo, to medieval villages as Motta Camastra and Calatabiano.

You can admire places where the river assumes different flow and shapes, such as the Small Gorges in the Ponte San Nicola area, where the water begins to flow into the cut that will later become its Gorges. Or the Gurne (pools), where the landscape becomes flat, forming small pools between one waterfall and another. You can follow the path of the Gorges from the bottom or from the top of the ridge.

The Gurne of River Alcantara

Between Francavilla and Castiglione di Sicilia, there is the locality called the Gurne of Alcantara. The natural route that leads to this point of the river also crosses archaeological sites (Greek ruins from the 5th century BC, ruins of the Francavilla castle), woods of centuries-old trees, rocks, up to a series of lakes and waterfalls that form the ” gurne “.

From the Gurne, a fairly well-maintained path leads to a unique monument: the Byzantine Cuba of Santa Domenica. This is a small and very ancient lava stone church, revalued shortly after centuries of abandonment. It shows the typical architecture of an oriental church that mixes Greek-Orthodox and Islamic styles. After being used as a stable and as a sheepfold, today it has become a small museum  in a unique panorama that includes the town of Castiglione in the background.

odissea foto LASICILIA

The shows

The Alcantara Gorges have also recently become a very prestigious theatre set. Two acting companies have followed one another over the last five years to stage, in the waters and among the lava rocks, passages from Dante’s Divine Comedy and Homer’s Odyssey. The actors use the caves, rocks and water of Alcantara itself as a backdrop. Spectators watch from the banks or from the paths along the rocky walls of the gorges. The shows usually take place between July and August and require the reservation and payment of a ticket.

Autore: Grazia Musumeci

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