Nature trail to discover the Gurne, the sixteen characteristic circular ponds created by the erosive action of the river Alcantara, in the homonymous nature reserve.
The Gurne are small peculiar circular shaped lakes (diameter from 5 to 30 m. and depth from 5 to 10 m.) which fall one upon the other, and their shape is a result of the millenary and steady erosive action of the river ﬂowing on the lava soil. These water basins, 16 in its totality and identiﬁed, each of them, by a noun of their own (Schiccio Cataratto, Schifazzi, Di Muna, Quattareddu, etc.), have peculiar features according to the distance from their head and their length which offer peculiar biological conditions and consequently varied and differentiated ecosystems.
The fauna shows specimen of dormouse, martens, weasels, foxes, hedgehogs, carps, trout and hundreds birds. Nearby the stream you can see river crabs, water tortoises and countless lizards. Walking along the Gurne and the Alcantara Nature Reserve is an enchanting experience which makes you discover both the natural beauty and the history and local traditions of the region. This charming path comprises many sites in the territory of Francavilla di Sicilia
The road signs are very clearly marked and they lead to the archaeological excavations, to the ﬂysch, to the “saie” (canals of Arabic times, used to water the lands), then to the Gurne and to a very old bridge up to the Ciappa Mill, which is considered one of the ﬁrst hydroelectric station for the production of energy. It is a circular path which ends up beneath the Norman castle of Francavilla di Sicilia, built by the Normans between 1100-1200 A.D., of which some spooky remains can be seen.
The Alcantara Natural Park
The Alcantara Natural Park comes from a series of small springs in the Nebrodi Mountains near Floresta, at an altitude of 1.500 metres and after passing through the valley for about 50 km, the precious waters are poured into the Ionian Sea near the ruins of the ancient City of Naxos.
The river, flowing and eroding the hard volcanic basalt, has created, in some stretches, vertical walls called “canyons” (or “gorges”), bringing to light the heart of the lava flows.
The visitor could admire the spectacular prismatic morphologies of columnar basalts; unique natural sculptures that recalled aligned organ pipes, elegant fans and tidy piles of firewood.
The Alcantara is one of the main Sicilian Rivers, with natural environments of natural and landscape interest.