The Gole dell’Alcantara , also known as the Larderia Gorges, are located in the Alcantara Valley in Sicily where the Peloritani mountain range ends between the municipalities of Castiglione di Sicilia and Motta Camastra. These are rock formations and natural canyons that wind in the southern province of Messina, near Taormina.
Description of the Gole dell’Alcantara
They are gorges high up to 25 meters and wide at the narrowest points 2 meters and at the widest points 4-5 meters. The natural canyon, unlike what is commonly thought, has not been excavated over thousands of years by water. The Alcantara river flows between lava stone that forms its characteristic riverbed. On the territory of Motta Camastra in the Fondaco Motta locality there is the most impressive and famous gorge of the Alcantara, more than 6 km long and easily accessible for the first 3.
The peculiarity of this gorge consists of the structure of the walls, created by basaltic lava flows (low in silicon but rich in iron, magnesium and calcium). The lava then cooled very quickly, creating pentagonal and hexagonal prismatic shapes, which recall the molecular structure of the materials that constitute it. The appearance of the river in the section of the Gorges is believed to date back to the magma flows of the last 8,000 years. The most recent theses identify three successive flows of fissures and open mouths in the area of Monte Dolce, in the medium-low Etna slope; the castings show themselves superimposed along the left wall of the river. The oldest flow is the one that reached Capo Schisò, on the sea. The columnar basalts visible in the Gorges are those of the less ancient casting and would be the product of rapid cooling caused by the presence of river water; they form prismatic structures of different configurations, “stack”, “harp”, with a radial pattern. The vertical, “organ pipe” formations in some cases reach 30 m.
Access to the Gole dell’Alcantara
From Messina take the SS n.114 (which goes as far as Catania), divert at Giardini Naxos towards the SS n.185, direction Francavilla di Sicilia and after twelve kilometers you reach the Gole dell’Alcàntara. Via Autostrada from Messina: take the A18 motorway towards Catania and exit at Giardini Naxos. From Catania: take the A18 motorway towards Messina and exit at Giardini Naxos. From the motorway exit continue for twelve kilometers in the direction of Francavilla di Sicilia. Another route coming from the Bronte-Randazzo is to go to Castiglione di Sicilia and from here continue to Naxos.