If you are travelling in south-eastern part of Sicily you can’t miss a trip to river Cassibile’s Cava Grande Natural Reserve, commonly known as Cava Grande.
This protected area in Siracusa province is renown for hosting one of Europe’s biggest canyon, dug during the centuries by the river Cassabile which runs through majestic mountains filling quite little lakes where you can relax and refresh from the torrid Sicilian summer.
The reserve opens its gates at half past seven every morning and closes at seven in the evening. Entry is free. Try to get there early in the morning to avoid the hot temperature and enjoy the place without too many tourists around. No sandals or flip flops allowed. Pack up enough food and water since the reserve is wild and untouched, luckily.
The main path is comfortable although quite steep. It will take you to the bottom of the canyon in about one hour. Walking down the path you will be greeted by the sweet scents of berries, flowers and plants, and you will dive in a landscape more and more green and luxuriant. No need to hurry, enjoy the sight of the river and the little lakes.
If you are careful enough you will notice the remains of a couple of ancient rocky villages and a necropolis carved in the stone. The place, being hardly accessible, was had been used as refuge by the local people since IX-X century.
Once at the bottom, after going down for 320 metres, you can relax. There are two main areas with pounds and lakes: just choose the one you prefer and jump into the emerald green waters to refresh yourselves. I suggest you to explore both areas and roam around the river to discover its charming spots, the small waterfalls, the beaches, the best rocks to jump into the water and the gorges among the Mediterranean’s woods.
At the bottom of the canyon the sun doesn’t last for long, hidden by the steep rocky walls up to 250 metres high. In the afternoon most people move back towards the exit, but you better wait for the temperature to cool down since a tough walk awaits you. The enjoyable path you met before becomes am exhausting climb on the way back. But don’t worry and take it easy, have many breaks to enjoy the landscape and think of the fresh beers waiting for you at the top.
Cava Grande is an exciting and surprising place, an unexpected encounter in Sicily which has yet to be invaded by the crowds.