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The Etna Volcano

Alcantara’s Gorges

The Alcantara’s Gorges are located in the Valley of Alcantara in Sicily. The gorges reach a height of 25 meters, a width of 2 meters in the narrow parts and 4-5 meters in the widest parts. It is precisely these dimensions that make the Alcantara’s Gorges such a unique and fascinating spectacle.

Despite common belief, the natural canyon has not been carved over thousands of years by water.
The most likely hypothesis is linked to a seismic event that, with forceful oscillatory movements, literally divided an old lava flow (attributed to Etna), allowing the water of the Alcantara river, located at 1200m on the slopes of Etna, to infiltrate inside. This hypothesis is supported by the fact that the structure of the walls (similar in some places to “stacks of wood” ad others “columns of organ”) is intact and angular.

Near Francavilla di Sicilia on the territory of Motta Camastra at Fondaco Motta there is the most impressive and famous Alcantara’s gorge that stretches over an incredible 6 km, the first 3 km of which are easily travelled. The particularity of this gorge is the structure of the walls created by a cast of basaltic lava (poor in silicon content but rich in iron, magnesium and calcium). The lava cooled down slowly, allowing the creation of pentagonal and hexagonal prismatic forms, which recalls the molecular structure of the materials it consists of.

A diverse panorama awaits you, from the high, black lava walls to clear lakes, waterfalls and small beaches formed by erosion. Indeed, from the source down to the gorgs, the landscape is constantly changing. From the forests of the source to the typical Mediterranean shrub with Indian figs and big bushes of euphorbia attached firmly to the rocks. Immersed in this lush vegetation, close to the gorges, there are caves and cliffes overlooking the water.
The water is icy and in some stretches it is not very deep. In others, instead, it is deep enough for a nice swim. Therefore, a bathing suit and comfortable shoes are suggested.