Itinerary: Giardini Naxos, Gaggi, Motta Camastra, Francavilla di Sicilia
Discover the Alcantara River Park and the famous Alcantara gorges, a natural site of great interest and suggestive views
Today we will visit the Alcantara River Park (pic n°1) which is a beautiful regional park in Sicily. Let's start out on our visit in Giardini Naxos, (pic n°5) the first Greek colony in Sicily. Before leaving this village, we can pay a visit to the old town and to Church of Santa Maria della Raccomandata, which preserves several paintings by local artists. After Church of San Pancrazio, follow Via Naxos until you reach Capo Schisò, where you will find the Archaeological Museum and the Archaeological Park with the ruins of the ancient town of Naxos, built in 734 B.C. and destroyed by the powerful Syracuse in 403 B.C.
At this point let's take SS185 in the direction of Francavilla di Sicilia. By driving along Alcantara river, you will first reach the village of Gaggi and then Motta Camastra (pic n°2)(pic n°6), a nice village perched on a hill, where you can visit Chiesa dell'Annunziata. The Alcantara Gorges are the main attractions of the whole area, and it can be accessed through various villages along the river.
Finally, you will reach Francavilla di Sicilia (pic n°4), which is the town where the administrative headquarters of the Alcantara River Park is located. Do not miss a visit to Convento dei Frati Minori Cappuccini, which houses Museo della Testimonianza Francescana. You can climb up the hill and visit the ruins of a feudal castle and enjoy the view of the town, or make your way to the town center Piazza Annunziata, overlooked by the sixteenth-century Chiesa di Maria SS. Assunta, or visit Antiquarium, a beautiful museum where you can admire lots of archeological artifacts dating back to the Greek period and beyond.
Now you can enter the Alcantara River Park which was founded in 2001. It lies north of Mount Etna Regional Park. Of course, the main attraction of the park is river Alcantara itself, which flows in the beautiful so-called Alcantara gorges (pic n°3) (Gole dell'Alcantara or Gole di Larderia in Italian), natural coves of volcanic origin, whose walls can be up to 25 meters high. These natural canyons were not created by water: it seems that some seismic movements caused a gap, which the river gradually flowed in. In summer, some of the most famous gorges are passable by wading the cold waters gathered from the nearby mountain range of Nebrodi.
The gorges are of great interest, both from a tourist and a scientific point of view because they include a lot of different natural treasures, such as the spectacular basalt rocks and several species of plants and animals. Make sure to spend a little time here, among gorges, beautiful lakes, streams of freezing-cold waters, and suggestive views!
Some pictures about Alcantara River Park:
Alcantara River Park (pic n°1); Motta Camastra (pic n°2); Alcantara gorges (pic n°3); Francavilla di Sicilia (pic n°4); Giardini Naxos (pic n°5); Motta Camastra (pic n°6)