The famous columnar basalt can be seen, it takes the columnar shape as the lava magmatic masse contracts as it cools while passing from fusion to solid state..
The Alcantara river represents the territorial border between the province of Messina and that of Catania. It rises in the Nebrodi mountains and is 50 km. long, then it flows into a zone between Giardini Naxos and Taormina. The lava that shapes the Alcantara canyon came from the eruptions of Etna and originates from the northern side of the volcano near Monte Dolce. In the river bed peculiar structures, the famous columnar basalt can be seen, it takes the columnar shape as the lava magmatic masse contracts as it cools while passing from fusion to solid state.
Such a change takes place at a central point where the phenomenon converges. These colonnades are not always upright as for geological reasons they can get peculiar and queer shapes, sometimes horizon- tal and sometimes vertical. Here can be also seen the “Gurne”, which are very peculiar shapes of the Alcantara Gorges; these are carved spots made by the river while strongly flows through its path, as if the river intended to make natural stairs and construct tanks of very peculiar shapes.
All along the river path we can find typical river vegetation such as: oleanders, tamarisks, willows and poplars; as for its fauna: frogs, toads and dragonflies are very common.
The route suggested is very interesting and awe-inspiring and can be carried out in one or more days. The easiest route to reach the Alcantara Gorges is by motorway A19, take the exit sign Giardini Naxos and then take the SS 185 to Francavilla di Sicilia, after 20 km. from Giardini Naxos exit you are at the Alcantara Gorges main entrance.