The kaleidoscope of nature
The territory of the Taormina Etna District guards a myriad of different environments and landscapes, of which Etna is by far the most noteworthy, but definitely not the only one. From impressive peaks and deep canyons, nature is ready to offer you a surprising and unforgettable show in a small stretch of land, thanks to the variety of natural environments and exceptional integrity.
A sharp crest behind two seas, the Peloritans are impressive yet fragile mountains, marked by deep torrents that plunge downwards and from which it is possible to enjoy extraordinary views of the Ionian and Tyrrhenian Coasts. You’ll discover the “Matterhorn of Sicily”, mysterious megalithic rocks and soft beds of ferns along the deep torrents.
This is home of the Oriented Nature Reserve of Fiumedinisi and Mount Scuderi, famous way back in ancient times for the presence of metalliferous layers, including silver. The protected area disguises numerous surprises for the nature enthusiast: beautiful heather offsets woods populated by every variety of oak known in Sicily, which occupy the gorges and other, lower areas of the Reserve.
And the torrents: authentic outdoor geology workshops in which a myriad of different pebbles of different mineral origin tell the story of the bowels of the earth and the geological nature of the Peloritans. Unmistakable, you will recognise the gentle hills of the Eastern Nebrodi by the thick foliage of the beech woods that reach the southernmost tip of Europe, alternating with high-altitude wetlands, where crystal lakes rent the green in a spectacular colour effect.
The flourishing beech woods occupy the highest altitudes of the Nebrodi Mountains, even reaching as far as the top of Mount Soro (1847 m), while from the clay and sandstone hills emerge Mount San Fratello and the Rocche del Crasto, made of Dolomitic limestone. It isn’t rare to come across Sanfratellan horses in the Nebrodi Nature Park. The origins of this gentle and intelligent native breed, raised in the wild, are unknown but are probably Arabian or Norman.
The view of Etna on one side and the Tyrrhenian Sea on the other, make the central massif of the Sicilian Apennines particularly attractive. Between the Peloritans and the Nebrodi Mountains, those who have never visited a real wood can visit the Oriented Nature Reserve of Malabotta Wood.
The area’s ecological value is exceptional, due to the integrity of the landscape and the marked geomorphological and floristic environmental diversity. The reserve comprises different habitats: wood, meadow, torrents and rocky landscapes. The spectacle of the Gole dell’Alcantara, a magnificent grey-green landscape, deep and luxuriant, characterised by vertical or fan-shaped basalt prisms, works its irresistible charm.
Of ancient origin, the deep and impressive basalt gorges are the product of the work of the river on clay sediments, later covered by the liquid magma of huge volcanic eruptions which then sank in the more clayey stretches. You can admire the apotheosis of these spectacular natural sculptures in Contrada Larderia, in the municipality of Motta Camastra.