Grand Canyon of Sicily – Alcantara Gorge

Alcantara river, ©criography/Flickr

Alcantara river, ©criography/Flickr

Sicily has its own special heritages of which makes part the Alcantara Gorge as well. The gorge was formed due to the running waters of Alcantara River which slope down from Mount Etna and Nebrodi Mountains. The river is among the few creeks which don’t dry up all year. Its name is given by the Arabs of Sicily. ‘Al gantara’ meaning ‘the bridge’ is a reference to a Roman span which was discovered by the Arabs. The spring of Alcantara can be found near Floresta, the highest town of Sicily. The stream ends at Giardini and flows into the Ionian Sea. Visit the valley of Alcantara and enjoy a spectacular view.

Battle scene

The valley of Alcantara has been the scene of the Francavilla battle which took place between Spanish and Australian forces in the summer of 1719. More than 40,000 soldiers marched into battle and died on this site. Take a walk in the region and soak up the historical atmosphere of the gorge.

Francavilla, ©criography/Flickr

Francavilla, ©criography/Flickr

History of Alcantara Valley

Let us see what geology tells us about Alcantara Valley. Geologists say that the valley was formed by volcanic substance which flooded down from the top of Etna and as it swiftly cooled down it became crystallized. The columns and gorges which are visible today in the valley were formed over hundreds and hundreds of years and I took a voluminous and powerful rushing water to create this basalt gorge.

Alcantara Gorge, ©geographyalltheway. com/Flickr

Alcantara Gorge, ©geographyalltheway. com/Flickr

Alcantara gorge is not the only known canyon in Sicily. The Cavagrande Cassibile located near Noto is also a sight worth seeing. However the formation of this latter canyon was a more progressive process which involved limestone instead of volcanic substance which usually involves cataclysm and a more sudden evolution.

Alcantara River

The Alcantara Canyon is about 65 m deep and its water is a perfect location to cool down in the boiling hot summer seasons. The river is parallel with the road of SS185. Follow this route and enter the gorge at the medieval town of Motta Camastra.

Alcantara river, ©criography/Flickr

Alcantara river, ©criography/Flickr

Spend a lovely day out at Alcantara gorge where there are opportunities for hikes and strolls and you can even cool down in the fresh water of the river bank. The Alcantara gorge might not be as spectacular as the American Grand Canyon but for Europe it makes a wonderful and picturesque location worth visiting in case you spend a holiday in Sicily.

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