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The Gurne of Alcantara

Route Sheet

Regional Parc of Alcantara, Site of community importance (S.I.C) called “Natural reserve of the Alcantara river”, with the following site code I.T.A. n. 030036.

Tipology On foot

Departure Francavilla di Sicilia

Difficulty Easy

Length 1,5 km

Altitude 340 mt s.l.m.

Difference 100 mt

Google Earth


Riferimenti cartografici Page I.G.M. n. 262 quadrant IV°, positioning S.E. CASTIGLIONE DI SICILIA - CTR section. 613100 “CASTIGLIONE DI SICILIA”

Services Equipped areas for visitor stops, informative poster signs for information and directions along the way.


Foto Panoramica 360°

The “gurne” are 16 small lakes formed inside the lava riverbed of Alcantara, having a round shape and a waterfall distribution. The width of these small lakes (gurne) is between 5 and 30 meters of diameter and the depth varies between 5 and 10 meters. The Gurne are enclosedby the territory of Francavilla di Sicilia, behind the hill with the remains of the castle. The last lake is found near Fondaco Motta.


Alcantara springs in the Nebrodi mountains, at 1400m height, from Serra Baratta, in the Province of Messina. Directed south, the river enters the province of Catania, reaching fastly the North of Randazzo city: here it suddenly changes direction due to the “push” of its main tributary: Flascio. Supplied in a consistent manner by its tributaries, Alcantara river heads East, forming a right angle (it is worth mentioning that on the map, because of the right angle, Alancatara seems more the tributary and Flascio the main river). Starting from this point on, the river flows between the Etna Volcano to the South and the Nebrodi and Peloritani mountains to the north, forming up to its outlet a natural barrier between the provice of Messina and the province of Catania.
After Moio Alcantara, the river starts flowing mostly confined into the territory, brushing against the centers of Francavilla di Sicilia and Castiglione di Sicilia. Close to Motta Camastra near Fondaco Motta locality, after having received from its left the Zavianno tributary, the river weaves into a canyon-like area characterized by basaltic lava which is 300.000 years old and forms the pre-Etnean cracks called Gole dell’Alcantara.
Between Gaggi and Calatabiano, Alcantara river enlarges its riverbed. Alcantara starts diminishing its flow again when it almost reaches its outlet near Giardini Naxos, where the famous aisles of the Roman Al qantarah bridge (the bridge of the arch), from which the name of the Alcantara river stems, are digging a grove.

The outlet of the river is positioned at the Ionian Sea, in the locality of San Marco. The river crosses the following territories: Santa Domenica Vittoria, Randazzo, Mojo Alcantara, Castiglione di Sicilia, Francavilla di Sicilia, Motta Camastra, Graniti, Gaggi, Calatabiano, TaorminaandGiardini Naxos.

The Alcantara riverbed has been volcanologically impacted, during pre-historical and proto-historical periods, by various lavastreams, that have modified and obstructed its path. The river has created therefore,ata local level, the characteristical forre, with walls that are tens of meters high and are characterized by subvertical column-shaped structures, called also pipe organor slightly arched called harp or fan, orhorizontally disposedas wood catasta or fractured and chaotically arranged.
The only volcanic cave is to be found in the comune of Motta Camastra in Messina province: hard to reach, but wonderful to the sight, it has been called the Cave of the Hundred Horses, that testimonies its huge dimensions. The Nordic Forre of Alcantara can be found on the Castiglione di Sicilia territory, near Cuba Bizantina. It can be reached by taking the country road to Randazzo.