Thursday, September 25, 2014

Francavilla di Sicilia and the Alcantra River

Francavilla di Sicilia has everything you could want in a Sicilian excursion.

There is the charming, decrepit Medieval quarter in the old part of the town.

And the scant remains of a Norman castle perched on a hill above the town that you can hike to for spectacular views of the neighboring village, Castiglione di Sicilia, and beautiful Mt. Etna.

And a trail that will take you from the castle into the Alcantra river nature reserve, where you can hike along orange groves and olive trees, examine the ancient irrigation system still in place since the time of Arab dominion,  and pick and devour sweet figs growing on the wild trees that appear before you just when you realized you forgot to pack a snack. Soon the roar of the rushing Alcantra river provides the soundtrack you were searching for. 

And then astonishing falls and pools appear before you, unique to this stretch of the river, known as Le Gurne. At this point the Medieval ruins seem dull in comparison to the river, its emerald green waters, the abundant plant life growing here, and all its natural splendor.

And then you find a spot where you can get a closer look and walk along the ancient volcanic rocks, now worn to a smooth, slippery sheen by the river.

Here you sit on the rocks, take off sweaty shoes and layers of clothes to cool yourself in the deliciously fresh, clean water. Trust me, you will not want to leave this spot.  And when you do, you will make a promise to yourself to come back soon.

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