The Catanese Coast: From the Simeto to the Alcantara
A coast of 70 km, whose variety is startling. We are not seeing it. Follow us: From the Serra del Re in the Nebrodi, once it gets the water from the Saracen torrent, the Simeto flows for hundred kilometres and then flows into the Ionian waters, twelve kilometres away from Catania.
From the river mouth to Catania’s port it expands a sandy strip of almost 9 kilometres.
The Simeto’s mouth, with its natural lakes, its bends, its marshes, is home to migratory and protected bird.
The landscape is unspoilt, with its wide extensions of golden sand, its dunes and the transparent waters of the sea.
It is on the last stretch – accessible by car and then on foot – of the Playa (sandy beach), the sandy coast, where the Catanese love taking sea and sun bathers.
The beach is well served by public transport, is dotted with tourist facilities, numerous seaside resorts, with beaches and holiday resorts very comfortable.
A few metres away from the shoreline the presence of the fishermen is noticeable, they are immersed to the trunk, plumbing the sea depths with the ingegnu rake triangle with a net, looking for mussels, or better said, clams. Ready to be eaten raw……and taste the Ionian Sea.
On the back, it expands a large green area of 338.000 square metres of pine forest, the Playa forest.
The sandy beach ends at the slipway of Catania’s central port from which it kicks off the lava cliff that, for the port to the railway station is called Armisi.
The old nineteenth century chimneys still soar recalling the extraordinary sulphur season of Sicily that, had assigned to Catania the sulphur processing activities and the role of Manchester of the Island.
Crouched at the foot of the stacks of ancient glory, from the sea you notice a gigantic “cutulisciu”, a huge pebble, rounded and polished by the sea, of black lava: reuse of industrial archaeology and preservation of the old memories, of ephemeral economic primacy of the past and, simultaneously, a tribute to the sea and Mount Etna, deliberately wanted by the architect Giacomo Leone in the construction of the Cultural Centre Viale Africa Trade Fair.
Once we have come through this unique gem of industrial archaeology of Catania, it is possible to see the twist of the bathing beaches on the rocks that, from Piazza Europa take us to S.Giovanni li Cuti, old sailor’s village with a little sandy beach of black sand with lava shingle between rocks.
Then, once come through the black cliff of the Rotolo, the fishing village of Ognina, once upon a time the natural port of the city of Catania (Port Ulisse for Plinio).
The stop by pleasure craft and fishing vessels equipped for fishing blue fish of which every year the festival is organised.
The water sea of Ognina fed a type of seaweed that attracted, as bait, king prawns and brown damselfish. In modern times we must not despair:with luck and patience itis possible in some places to grope for the big stroke of luck
From Ognina overlooking a sea of cobalt colour, greeted the remains of the sixteenth-century sighting tower, the watchful eye should pay attention to seven hollow caves on a row on the coast then, we glimpse the silhouette of the high castle of Aci with turrets and battlements.
It is a Norman fortress built in the 1076 on a rock made of a thick pile of basaltic globes, overlooking the sea, now the local heritage museum, guardian of a rich mineral collection, among others.
The legend tells that a young shepherd from Aci, in love with the nymph Galatea, refuge in the castle from the fury of Polyphemus, which, however, managed to bring down the successful rival.
Neptune, god of the sea, moved to tenderness by the event, turned the body of Acis into a river that ended his race in Galatea, transformed into the sea.Further north of Acicastello, facing Acitrezza of “I Malavoglia” by Giovanni Verga and “La terra Trema” by Luchino Visconti, a trace of the Odyseey, the journey back to Ithaca of Ulysses, and the wrath of the Cyclops Polyphemus: the Cyclop rocks or Cyclop Islands, as a crown or to follow the island Lachea or Aci, nature reserve of great geological and naturalistic interest.
The sea is magic, its seabed are marvellous due to its fishing possibilities and for the variety of vegetables species, seaweed, sponge and corals. The lighthouse or the Sant’Anna tower is still in excellent conditions, built with lava materials in the second half of the sixteenth century, followed and harassed by the activity of sighting and firing pollarded tower, the old tower.
A defence tower, the herald of Capomulini, another magnificent resort, disseminated, as the whole coast until the Alcantara, of restaurants overlooking the sea, with mussels, sea urchins and selfish that stand out on the tables.
Catania is the Baroque queen on the Ionic coast, Acireale, 15 kilometres away from the capital, is the regent princess that is regally perched, overlooking the sea, on a terrace of lava, a precipice.
From the sea such terrace goes up in the form of a green Timpa, rocky ridge which is reflected on a stretch of the crystal clear Ionic waters: a wall of ancient lava resting on a watery pedestal, a tuft of Mediterranean scrub, inmersed to feed itself in the sea.
It is a steep slope over 140 feet above the sea parallel to the coastline, 7 kilometres long, starting from Capomulini, with the “Timpa Don Masi, Santa Catherina, and further on after Santa Maria La Scala, Santa Tecla. Sediments of at least two eruptive cycles, and Mediterranean scrub of mastic, hackberry, euphorbia, wild olive and carob.
A spring of ferruginous and silver orange water colours of the lava leading to a creek in which the pleasure crafts stop by. A cathedral of lava on the sea that hides leaning against or emerging the rampart of the seventeenth century fortress of the Tocco, confused with the terraces of lava rock.
Pure ecstasy from which to recover to recover the sight of Santa Maria la Scala, a small village of fishermen, gathered around a seventeenth-century church at the foot of the Timpa.
Once a port for large ships coming from Trapani and Malta or from Lipari, port and fortress of which the traces remain.
Small places, big pleasures: Santa Tecla, not a Christian name but Arab Sciant Tagla (landing place) with the remains of a tower, and then, Scillichenti, Stazzo with the ruins of the cargo port where the lava stone was embarked for merchants outside the islands.
Pozzillo, was a port and, a source of mineral water rich of salts.
Small seaside towns which stretch along the coast to complete the seasons, at high-skilled capacity of hotels, in the Cyclops Coast and the introduction of the high beaches of Architrave strewn with rounded rocks.
Furthermore, the sea of Riposto with lobsters Tower: it is suggested by the pots that you see here and there, in front of the doors.
Riposto – because there reposed (riponeva) the load of ships waiting to sail to international markets – has a pebble beach and a marina on the vocation to become a touristic port having been a great trading port which once exported loads of wine, citrus and even sulphur.
After the one of Catania it is held to be the biggest port of the Ionian coast: a specific future port for nautical tourism which should be directed to Taormina and the Alcantara, to transform it in the Etna port, from the sea to the snow, among the vineyards, citrus groves, orchards and lava.
For sea bathing there is a nice beach, that of S. Anna.
Fondachello the beach, full of camping sites, then the mouth of Fiumefreddo (Cold River) with its exceptional submerged vegetation, and, therefore, the Marina di Cottone, also equipped with camping sites and followed by the coast of Calatabiano enhanced by a fortified residence, the castle of St. Marco (opera from the late seventeenth century), surrounded by a rich and improbable green pine forest that hosts a camping site, marine and agro touristic: the last outpost bordering the Etna coast before arriving at the Alcantara Gorges, all to be drank and go back up.