Not too far from Siracusa, there is one of the best wonders of Sicily: the nature reserve of Cava Grande del Cassibile. This little piece of paradise is a complex of canyons and caves carved by the river Cassibile – once known as Kakyparis -during the centuries, creating small ponds and miniature waterfalls.
The whole gorge covers several kilometers in the area that extends from Siracusa to Avola Antica, where one can access the lakes via the Scala Cruci. It takes approximately half an hour to dive hiking in this masterpiece of nature; walking along the river, surrounded by the beautiful Mediterranean vegetation, bathing in the crystal clear water and laying under the sun on the white limerocks.
For those who are more into hiking, the nature reserve also has more challenging options to offer: on the Northern side of the gorge, there are thousands of artificial caves and tombs dating back to the X century B.C. that form the Necropolis of Cava Grande, evidence of the ancient history of the area. On the same side, there is also the famous Cava dei Briganti (the Brigands’ Cave), a sort of cave/village carved in the rocks by the Sicels, successively used by Arabs as a tannery and by brigands in 1800 as a lair.
Diving into the canyon to reach the ponds and the rivers is an amazing experience that allows the braves to witness a small piece of Sicily that has remained wild and natural for centuries, with wildlife like birds, wild boars and small mammals and native species of fishes, insects and amphibian.
While experiencing the nature, make sure you don’t stay too much in the canyon: temperature gets very low after the sun has set – which happens a couple of hours earlier into the gorge – and you do not want to get stuck into the darkness while climbing the stair back to the car park.
By the way, if tourists make it back to the car park before the sunset, they can refresh themselves with an authentic granita made with the local delicious Almond milk – and it is totally different from any other milk you’ve ever had in your life!