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Turismo Catania » The territory » Natural Reserve » Simeto Natural Reserve Oasis

Natural Reserve "Lava Gorges of the Simeto"

GoleThe Natural Reserve of the “Lava Gorges of the Simeto” is the only one foreseen by the Regional Plan of Natural Reserves in the province of Catania, but not yet established.
The Reserve includes, in part so far, the high waterway of the river Simeto which presents a diverse set of natural environments in good preservation state, of great natural interest and host a rich biodiversity.
Of great interest are also the geological and geomorphologic aspects.
On leaving the lava gorges of the Cantera, currently not included in the established Natural Reserve but are probably the most unique and spectacular environment, the river flows for ten kilometres, until the village Pietrerosse, in a tight hive placed at the edges among the lava of the Ancient Alkaline Centres, on the East, and the Sedimentary lands on the West.
At the Bridge Passo Paglia initiates the section of the Natural Reserve.
From there to the land district Pietrerosse on the right bank of the river, there stand the so called “Argille Variegate” (varied clays) of cretaceous age, characterised by characteristics gray, red and green colours, which erosion has led to the establishment of badlands areas. Ponte Saraceno
The lava is present on the left bank, however, they form high sub-vertical walls marked by spectacular columnar basalts. Near the Saracen Bridge we find a second section of the Reserve deeply etched in lava rocks belonging to the Ancient Alkaline Centre, to whose side the full river bed, also carved on the lava, has the characteristics erosive forms known as “Marmitta dei Giganti” (pothole).
Downstream of this the bed of the river widens again and it develops for several kilometres, until the land district Santa Domenica, in a narrow valley flanked by high walls of lava limiting with large flat areas.
Of importance, in areas outside the current scope, the presence, in the land District Santa Domenica, some water sources that feed the River Simeto.
The small caves (“Favare”), from which the water springs, are located in thick chalky concretions formed by the fall of the calcium carbonate of which the sources are rich.
The presence of aquatic environments, shelters and gorges determines a significant interest in both vertebrate and invertebrate fauna. Simeto sciare
In particular, the waters of the river are home to discreetly rich macro benthic communities; and the presence of sources with pure water near the water course raises significantly the level of biodiversity and causes a hydration that improves the biological quality of water.
The presence of different environments in terms of natural and semi-natural conditions (rivers, lentic environments, pebbly shores, cliffs, meadows, and wooden areas, arable) makes the territory of the protected area particularly attractive for terrestrial fauna.
Regarding the vegetation, the waterway is home to extensive forests willow shelters (Salicetum albo-purpureae) characterized by the presence of three species of willow, white willow (Salix alba), red willow (Salix purpurea) and Gussone willow (Salix gussonei) as well as the greater Tamarisk (Tamarix Africana), black poplar (Populus nigra) and oleander (Nerium oleander). In several sections the shelters willow and poplar forests are dense and considerably physiognomic evolved, which indicates a good state of preservation.
Simeto sciare 2The presence of willow Gussone, has in addition, special interest as an endemic species of the waterways of the North-Eastern Sicily. In some sections with weak water flow there are wetland vegetation like cattail (Typha angustifolia) which is associated with other water hydrophytes such as mint (Mentha aquatica) and common bunting (Cyperus longus).