Cavagrande del Cassibile Reserve
Cavagrande del Cassibile, Sicily's CanyonsThe Cavagrande del Cassibile Nature Reserve is of geographical, anthropological, archeological, hydrological and speleological importance. The Reserve covers an area of 2,700 hectares in the region of Avola, Siracusa and Noto. The river Cassibile, or Kacyparis as it was called in ancient Greek, runs through the reserve and over the millennia the river has created a series of deep canyons stretching for more than 10 kilometres. Defended by the unassaibale sheer walls of the canyon and with access to water, the Siculi people first inhabited this place and created two stone villages here: one to the north which can be seen from the observation point and one to the south, almost opposite. The first settlement dates back to the 10th and 11th Centuries B.C. and features hundreds of tombs carved out of the rock face, one next to the other, on six different parallel levels. In the bottom of the valley the river has created a complex system of small cascades and uruvi filled with cool, crystal-clear water. The best examples are accessible from the Avola Antica vantage point. It takes about 30 minutes to reach the floor of the valley and you can either return via the same path or via a stairway located near to the dam. The same path also leads to the stone settlement of Dieri. To experience more of this beautiful location, you can continue for several kilometres towards the source of the river following the path along the middle level (which you cross around half way through the descent) to the area of Prisa where there is a lake that contains water used for hydro-electric power generation. Along the way you will come across numerous wild and unspoilt areas and experience the fragrance of aromatic plants such as sage, thyme, rue, cat mint and origano as well as other wild flora such as brambles, ivy and oak which can create some difficulties for inexperienced hikers. The southern stone settlement can also be accessed via this path as can the the river itself via unmarked paths, however, these paths are steep and a great deal of care and attention should be taken if you decide to follow them.