The Alcantara Valley
The Hotel Belsoggiorno is situated in a very favourable position that enables different kinds of excursions, such as to the Alcantara Valley and Taormina that lie only 15 km from the hotel.
In ancient times, Sicily was divided into valleys and one of these was The Alcantara Valley. The name Alcantara comes from Arab – Al Qantarah – which means “The Bridge”, testimony being the numerous remains of crossings that are visible along the entire valley. At the same time, the river which crosses all the valley has also taken the name Alcantara. Due to its wide variety of characteristics, the entire area has been called The Alcantara Fluvial Park. There are 12 municipal towns inside the Park: Calatabiano, Castiglione di Sicilia, Francavilla di Sicilia, Gaggi, Graniti, Malvagna, Moio Alcantara, Motta Camastra, Randazzo, Rocella Valdemone and the tourist towns of Giardini Naxos and Taormina.
Apart from Taormina and Giardini Naxos, which are already well-known, there are many monuments, churches and monasteries of noteworthy architectural interest to be visited in all the towns of the area which are testimony to the various foreign dominations that have taken place, above all that of the Arabs. From the Calatabiano Castle, which will shortly be a permanent museum, to the Capuchin friar Monastery at Francavilla; the 7th century Byzantine church at Malvagna; Randazzo – rich in medieval history and full of churches and monuments; Lauria Castle at Castiglione – undergoing renovation etc., etc. All the towns are true ‘Borghi’ (villages/districts) and each one has its own traditions, historic and cultural origins and also various typical local products.
One of the major attractions of the Valley are the famous Alcantara Gorges (‘Gole Dell’Alcantara’) where, for thousands of years, the river has flown over the basalt rock river-bed forming deep gorges in some parts. The water flows fresh and clear between the high rocky walls with their natural designs and shapes and many sections of the gorges can be visited with suitable equipment. Inside the park there are several nature paths called “Agrosentieri” to allow those people who are keen on nature to discover the colours, fragrances, fruits and vegetation present in the park. One of these paths is the “Sentiero della Salute” (Health Pathway), where herbal, aromatic and medicinal plants are cultivated and then transformed into health products.
Another important itinerary is the “Sentiero Natura” (Nature Pathway) which starts at Francavilla and allows you to go alongside the Alcantara river, arriving at the town of Castiglione. Along the pathway, you can admire the various bridges of Arab origin over the river, ruins, watermills, archaeological digs, and here and there, “Le Gume”, mirror-like pools of water surrounded by a varied vegetation. The whole river flows in lava creating basalt rock formations, waterfalls, gorges, nooks and inlets. Along the pathway there are some panoramic observation points which allow you to see long stretches of the river and the entire valley with some villages on the hills.
Finally, a special note for the whole area which is rich in alimentary/food products. Apart from the typical local products such as honey, wine, cheeses and cold cuts (salamis etc.), each town in the Valley has its own particular products: Giardini Naxos - oranges and lemons; Castiglione and Randazzo – grapes and wine; Calatabiano - medlars/loquats; Graniti - cherries; Moio Alcantara – fragrant peaches; Motta Camastra - walnuts; Francavilla – almonds, figs, prickly pear fruits, olives and much more all over the region.
- Alcantara Fluvial Park:
- For information Tel +39 0942 98 99 11 - Fax. +39 0942 98 10 38
- Giardino Mediterraneo della Valle dell'Alcantara:
- Via Nazionale 5 - 98030 Motta Camastra Per info Tel.& Fax.+39 0942 98 50 10