North slopes of Mount Etna.
From Messina SS114 towards Catania, turn at Giardini Naxos on SS185 towards Francavilla di Sicilia, 12 km to the gorge.
(37° 52’ 46.32” N, 15° 10’ 29.79” E)
All year daily 8-sunset.
Adults EUR 8, Children (6-12) EUR 5, Children (0-5) free, Seniors (65+) EUR 8, Family EUR 14.
Walking: Per Person EUR 4.
River Trekking: Per Person EUR 30.
Body Rafting: Per Person EUR 40.
Canyoning: Per Person EUR 60.
|Address:||Gole dell'Alcantara, Strada Provinciale 7, Castiglione di Sicilia, Tel: +39-0942-985010. E-mail:|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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The Gole dell'Alcantara (Alcantara Gorge), also called the Gole di Larderia (Larderia Gorge) is a gorge located at the northern flank of Mt. Etna. The river cut deep into a layer of basalt, exposing the octagonal pillars which are so typical for basalt. This gorge is not developed, as almost all other gorges we list, but it is definitely a major tourist site. Ignored by foreign tourists, it is where locals go on weekends and during extremely hot days. The gorge offers not only a unique geologic situation and a beautiful view, it is also very refreshing to take a bath in the river Alcantara.
The catchment area of river Alcantara is Mount Etna and the Nebrodi Mountains. This is one of the few rivers on Sicily which runs all year. The formation of the gorge started with an eruption of Mount Etna and a lava flow which blocked the path of the river some 300,000 years ago. As soon as the lava cooled the river started to cut into the basalt. The upper layers of the basalt are massive, they cooled rather fast. But deeper underground the lava was covered by a crust which insulated it and it hardened much slower. Given enough time while cooling basalt always form octagonal pillar. The diameter of the pillars is proportional to the cooling speed, slower means bigger. And the direction of the columns gives the direction of the heat transport. The pillars are always vertical on the cold layer.
The basalt pillars in Gole dell'Alcantara are only found in the lower part, and they are oriented in various direction, they even bend snakelike. This shows us that they were formed close to the surface, where the heat could go out in various directions.
At the entrance to the gorge is a beach area which is quite popular. It can be reached from the parking lot through a long staircase with 110 steps or with an elevator. The river is 50 m below the parking lot.
There are trails for walking, the gorge trail follows the river upstream along the top of the gorge. While it offers some great views into the gorge, it is not as spectacular as a walk through the gorge. The trail on the floor of the gorge is called Alcantara Trail and goes from Gorge Beach to Saje Beach. It is not developed, you just walk along the river and it is necessary to enter the river various times, so apprpriate colthing is essential. We recommend wading boots or neoprene shoes and bathing clothes. This trail is only possible with a guide.
And finally there is the possibility to do a body rafting or canyoning trip which is called Venus Trail. You can do this only with a guiode and a helmet, lifejacket and wetsuit are necessary. You are floating down the river, which is mostly calm but there are some rapids nevertheless.