Based in Siracusa, I explore not only Ortigia but also more places in southeast Sicily. After having seen a lot of ruins and towns, I am craving for an outdoor experience. I come across the Cava Grande del Cassibile, a short drive from Siracusa. I park my car near the trailhead halfway the canyon, at the top. It turns out the trail has been closed since 2014; there is an official sign explaining that the trail is closed because of the risk of boulders rolling down the hill. Next to the sign: a firmly closed and locked gate. Next to the gate: two crates on each side of the fence, facilitating people to be able to climb over it. After my morning explorations of Ortigia, I have arrived at the end of the morning on a Saturday, and there are plenty of people climbing the fence and hiking down into the canyon, and I follow suit. The trail is steep, switchbacks with stones and rocks dive into the depth of the canyon. On the other side. I see huge caves, which probably explains the name of the canyon. At the bottom, I see a river, and people walking next to ponds.
On my way down, I pass several people who appear to have problems going down the steep trail, and I wonder if they realise that they will have to walk up again. After half an hour, I reach the first small waterfall and pool with crystal clear, cool water. It looks very tempting, but I know there are more ponds further downstream, so I follow the trail until I reach a cluster of pools and waterfalls. The two sides of the canyon stand like enormous walls on either side of the Cava Grande del Cassibile. There are already quite a few people here. I walk past a small waterfall, on a slippery ledge, until I reach a bigger pool. The ledge stops here; I take off my shoes, hook them up to my backpack, and cross the stream just above another waterfall. I am all sweaty and hot: now is the moment to put down my stuff, take off my shirt and pants, and dive into the refreshing water. I swim to the other side, until I am under one of the waterfalls. What is better than lying belly-up in this lovely water, looking at the rocky walls rising steeply on both sides?
After I find a good spot where I can put my head on a rock, I just lie down, close my eyes, enjoy the sun burning my face, and feel it drying up my swim shorts. When I open my eyes again, more people have arrived, entire families have ignored the signboard saying it is forbidden to enter. I still want to visit a museum in Siracusa, and decide to pack my stuff and head back. I walk barefoot along the rocks on the sun side of the pools, cross the stream in almost waist-deep water, enjoying the refreshing feeling of cold water, and knowing that I will sweat it all out on my way up. It takes another half hour to hike up the steep path, and when I am back on the edge, my shirt and pants are completely soaked. I once again enjoy the views across the canyon: I can see the pools far below, it seems even more people have arrived in this officially forbidden place. I eat some of the delicious summer fruits, before heading down the curvy road back to Siracusa.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Cava Grande del Cassibile (Italy). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Cava Grande del Cassibile. Read more about this site.