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Sicily 2: Alcantara Gorge. This morning, Friday 14th April, was billed as a nature trail, which I think gave some of us the idea that we were in for a gentle stroll.  We did not imagine that we would be climbing up and down a gorge!

Claudio, of Etna Discovery, was our guide along the three areas of the Alcantara (stress on the second syllable) Gorge. Very knowledgeable he was too, and his strong arms at tricky passages were also most welcome.  He took us first down a shady path to a viewpoint over a particularly narrow part of the gorge.



Showing the basalt columns through which the river has worn its way


Then back up and along a top path to a stretch which gave an impression of a wider part of the Alcantara river valley.



This and other frogs were in a puddle in the wide path.  Most however buried themselves in the fine mud at our approach

P1260162001Return to the vehicle and then down to a spot where we were able to access the river floor.




A rapidly shrinking pool at the side of the gorge. These tadpoles would be doomed even without the fact that a young snake has discovered them



One gorged colubro snake (about 18 inches, 45 cm, long). Ibelieve that the English name is the smooth snake.



Geoff, Claudio, Emma, Alec, Isobel and Francesca, as we emerged once more at the top of the Gorge


Finally, after a debate as to how we might best use the rest of our time, Claudio drove us some way away to another spot, where a quite lengthy rising walk took us to further views of the river upstream – to find that others had got there before us.



Distant view, much zoomed, of Castiglione, where we were find ourselves that evening for the procession



Hints of Mount Etna, and its vapours, in the distance



Views upstream…


… and downstream, from a footbridge


A better view of Etna snatched on the drive back to the agriturismo (a farm used partly for tourism purposes)


Unfortunately on the way back down to the vehicle, I stumbled on a stone, and twisted my right ankle rather nastily.  This meant that for the rest of the holiday I was having to walk very gingerly, especially where the surface was not totally flat, and when turning corners, though this didn’t prevent me from joining in any of the activities. (Dancing was not on the menu.)