One of the many astounding sights on Sicily is the Alcantara Gorge, a massive tree-lined chasm falling 65 metres to the river below, with water tumbling down the cliff side. It is popular with tourists in search of walking, nature or geological interest as well as those who just want to goggle at the dramatic scenery.
Ancient Origins of the Alcantara Gorge
There are various legends associated with the gorge. In one version it was the result of a quarrel between Vulcan and Venus; in another it was created by the gods to punish a dishonest farmer. The reality is more prosaic but no less interesting, the gorge having been formed from volcanic rocks caused by the eruption of nearby Mount Etna. The cold water of the Alcantara river, one of Sicily’s few year round rivers, caused the hot lava to crystallise, creating the strange shapes in the rock that can still be seen today.
Exploring the Alcantara Gorge
There are a number of hiking trails at the top of the gorge, but many visitors like to make straight for the river at the bottom. There is a path that you can walk down, or you can do it the easy way by taking the lift.
The most intrepid visitors can don giant waders and walk into the water. Guided walks are available alongside (and occasionally into) the river. But most people are happy just to stand on the small beach area, dip their toes in the water and admire the view.