Sicilia - Places to Visit - The Alcantara Gorge
The Alcantara gorge, an absolute must for tourists visiting the area, can be reached from Taormina-Giardini Naxos by following the main road inland (185) toards Francavilla di Sicilia for 13 kilometres.
This natural monument of basalt rock was created by the eruption of the volcano Monte Moio, Etna's most eccentric offshoot, around 2400BC. The lava flow invaded the entire valley of the Alcantara river a s far as its mouth on the coast, where the Greeks founded their first colony in Sicily.
In the Sciara Larderia region the river of lava reached a thickness of 70 metres. While still white-hot, and due to a telluric settling, a sinuous longitudinal crack opened in the lava over a length of 500 metres, 70 metres deep and five metres wide, thus assuming the appearance of a gorge.
Only later, all the waters of the catchment basin feeding the Alcantara river flowed into the fissure and fro this derived the name "Alcantara gorge". The continuous action of the water smoothed the basalt walls of the gorge producing that glowing lustre which can be admired only under the action of light.
The gorge is reached by way of a scenic footpath or by means of modern elevators. To reach the entrance of the gorge the use of wading boots is recommended, which can be hired at the site; these are a useful protection against the icy water and spiky rocks.
The gorge is always a dangerous place for non-experts and those who are unfamiliar with the site.
There is a large car-park, a bar, a restaurant and farm holiday facilities; it is possible to stay the night, and taste and buy excellent food prepared with traditional recipes.