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Nature reserves

SOURCE OF THE RIVER CIANE

The river Cyane, the scene of myths and legends, is one of the most charming areas of Syracuse. Known worldwide for its beautiful papyrus plants, similar to those found in the river Nile, is the largest settlement in Europe for the Cyperus Papyrus Linnaeus. The name probably comes from the greek “Cyanos”, which means blue-green, and refers to the particular colour of the water and the papyrus of these areas. Greek mythology tells us that the river was born of a young girl, Cyane, which was transformed into a source for having fight to obstruct the abduction of Proserpine. In these waters, the lush papyrus is surrounded by ash trees slightly moved by the breeze, poplars and willows. Amid this luxuriant aquatic vegetation found their shelter many species of resident and migratory birds.

The path, not so long, takes a maximum of two hours of pleasant walk. In the midst of thick reeds and papyrus plants high up to four meters, the route descends the first part of the River Cyane, from the sources to about the halfway point. After leaving the cars in the shade of majestic eucalyptus trees near the bridge, you can walk along the two banks connected by rustic bridges. For canoeists the river Cyane is the ideal place for a relaxing paddle. It is possible to go against the current from the mouth almost to the source. Near the mouth of the river there are also organized boat trips.

Getting there:

From the hostel to go right and straight ahead past the train station. Once you get to the roundabout turn left taking Via Columba. At the end turn right to Via Elorina. From there after a few kilometers you reach a bridge and the well visible mouth of the river, from which all the excursions start.

PLEMMIRIO MARINE RESERVE

The reserve of Plemmirio surrounds the beautiful peninsula of Maddalena, south of Syracuse, where you can find a real paradise with flat rocks on the sea and beautiful beaches surrounded by crystal clear and unpolluted water. Apart from the simple swimming and snorkeling, many agencies offer diving excursions in the reserve, renting the equipment. In fact, despite its proximity to the Syracusa, the Maddalena Peninsula surprizes the visitor for the biological diversity and its beautiful seabed. From Capo Castelluccio to Punta Tavernara, the seabed is low and uniform for several hundred yards, then suddenly drops to higher depths. From Punta Tavernara to Cape Murro di Porco, on the contrary the sea is arelady over 30-40 meters deep close to the cost.

In places where there is a sudden change of slope, there are many underwater caves full of life, with solitary corals, sponges, bryozoans, mantis shrimp, nudibranchs and several species of fish. In the lower depths is possible to encounter vast prairies of Posidonia with gigantic specimens of Pinna nobilis, the biggest shell of the Mediterranean. Capo Murro di Porco for its geographical features and the peculiarities of its waters is a great place for the observation of large pelagic fish, such as tuna, amberjacks, and marine mammals such as dolphins, whales and sperm whales. The geographical location and the particular morphology of the coastal zone, the incredible seabed, and many other aspects, make the area of the Capo Murro absolutely unique. In fact, you may experience emerged and submerged caves and cavities, and, after about 300 meters from the coast, very high depths.

-By bus n. 23 and 29 (from the bus station near the hostel)

-By car from the hostel go right, go past the train station and once you get to the big roundabout turn left to Via Columba. At the end turn right taking Via Elorina. From there follow the signs to Plemmirio (a few km.)

VENDICARI NATURAL RESERVE

Vendicari or Vindicari is a naturalisti reserve established in 1984, and today is one of the most representative wetlands of Europe. Hundreds are the species of bird which choose it each year as a stop on the journey.

But the reserve is not only this. It is one of the few places where it is still possible to observe the typical Mediterranean maquis in all its splendor. Includes among the most beautiful beaches in Sicily, the breathtaking uncontaminate beaches of Marianelli, Calamosche, The tuna fishery beach, and the San Lorenzo Case Citadella beach. Many are, finally, the archaological sites located inside the reserve.From prehistoric to Greek and Roman (Eloro, the Hellenistic settlement), Byzantine age (Catacombs, Trigona), from the Arabs (the fortifications of Cittadella) to the Middle Ages (Swabian Tower) to the eighteenth century with the ruins of the tuna fishery, which has been in use until World War II.

Can be reached only by car/motorbike (20 minutes from Syracuse)

NECROPOLIS OF PANTALICA- NATURAL RESERVE OF ANAPO VALLEY

The Anapo river – whose name, of Greek origin, means “invisible” – has its source in the territory of Palazzolo Acreide (in the place called Sources Guffari on Mount Lauro), and initially flows through a deeply eroded valley, which widens and narrows. Close to the town of Palazzolo, the valley begins to show the characteristic shape of a canyon, slipping through layers of hard rock in which it has excavated tortuous and steep paths with narrow and high meandering walls, known as Gole (Gorge) di Pantalica. It is here in this area – after the bridge of Cassano-Ferla and the meanders of the district of Giambra, in the town of Sortino – that is located the world famous Necropolis of Pantalica, one of the largest in the Mediterranean regions, with its hive of thousands of ancient tombs distributed along the rocky walls, used from prehistorical ages to the early Christian era.

Today much of the Anapo valley, including the area of the necropolis, is protected by the Naturalistic Reserve Pantalica and Anapo Valley. From the naturalistic point of view, the predominant vegetation is the typical Mediterranean maquis. In the valley there are the typical “oriental” plane trees, black and white poplars, willows, and a rich and fragrant underwood; the less steep slopes are colonized by large oaks and holm oaks. In the flattest areas it is spectacular the explosion of spring flowers, iris, crocuses, daffodils and many species of wild orchids. The area is populated by mammals (foxes, rabbits, weasels, martens, porcupines), birds (falcons, buzzards, eaglea, red kitea, long-tailed bushtits, dippers), reptiles, among which the leopard snake, and insects, like the black dragonfly.

CAVA GRANDE DEL CASSIBILE

The Natural Reserve Cavagrande del Cassibile is a regional natural reserve, a true paradise where the beauty of the landscape contains the richest anthropological, hydrogeological, archeological and speleological wonders. The spectacular scenery is due to the peculiar morphology of the canyon of the river Cassibile. In the valley, it has created a complex system of small waterfalls and natural lakes, where is possible to swim.

The highest elevation reached by the plateau is 520 m above the sea level, but it is close to the viewpoint of Avola Antica, with its 507 meters, that the river reaches its maximum depth. Also in this section it reaches its maximum width of 1200 meters. In the 10 km length of the canyon, as mentioned, you can see many small lakes with cool, clear waters, among which stand out for their beauty the small lakes near Avola Antica, accessible to the public through a historical path, named Scala Cruci

As the place was defended by the inaccessible cliffs of the canyon and due to the proximity of water, the “Siculi” (ancient Sicilians), who were the first known inhabitants of this place, built two villages in the rock that are still difficult to reach and have now become part of the landscape.

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