Holidays in Sicily, discovering the “lakes” of Cavagrande

Wild and silent, Cavagrande del Cassibile is a trekking paradise, a picnic destination for young people and families. It is the alternative to the sea in Eastern Sicily. What to see and how to get there

Who says that in Sicily they do not exist alternatives to the sea, you are wrong. There is a place, in Eastern Sicily, where it is possible to take a dip in natural pools of clear and crystalline water immersed in unspoiled nature. We are talking about the “lakes” of Cavagrande del Cassibile nature reserve, and is located between Syracuse and Avola.

Breathtaking views at the top and bottom, a valley carved by a river it created a canyon. It is trekking paradise and it is a place
enchanting to visit, at least once, for those coming on holiday to Sicily, in the Syracuse area.


Cavagrande is one of the most beautiful reserves in Eastern Sicily. It is vast beyond 2700 hectares in which the Cassibile river, the ancient Greek Kacyparis, which over the millennia has created a series of deep canyons ten kilometers long. A natural paradise surrounded by impressive rocky walls, which in some places are up to 300 meters high. For those who love climbing, and is on holiday in Sicily, it is the perfect place. The Oriented Nature Reserve Cavagrande
del Cassibile is rich in landscape, anthropological, hydrogeological, archaeological and speleological importance. In the valley floor, a complex system of small waterfalls and natural reservoirs locally called “uruvi” has been created with fresh and clear waters, the most suggestive of which can be reached from the Avola Antica viewpoint.


I “lakes of Avola”, So nicknamed by the Sicilians, I am a small naturalistic paradise for fans of trekking and of excursions. And not only. Many are groups of young people and families who organize trips or picnics, enjoying one alternative day to the sea, in Sicily.

They are numerous the trails that lead to this corner of paradise. There are over ten possible routes to enter the Cavagrande reserve, in the Syracuse area. At the moment there are only three recommended ones.

Cruci scale“, Is the best known route and is suitable for everyone. The “lakes” are immediately reached, and here it is possible to park all day.

The pathway Prisa-Carrubella”Is one of the three alternative routes to discover Cavagrande. In this path you can observe the lakes from a different point of view and can be traveled by those who do not want to immediately relax and take a dip in the water.

The “Staircase of Mastra Ronna”Is a more difficult itinerary but you can reach the bottom of the canyon along an ancient“ mule track ”, that is a natural road destined for pack animals.

“Prisa-Carrubella” and “Mastra Ronna” are accessible in accordance with the regulations of the managing body, Azienda Foreste State-owned by the Sicilian Region. “Scala Cruci” and “Carrubbella” can be reached via the provincial road n ° 4 Avola-Manghisi, while the “Mastra Ronna” can be reached from the provincial road n ° 73 Canicattini – Cugni – Stallaini – Cassibile.

The valley floor it can be reached in about thirty minutes, on foot. You can also travel a few kilometers towards source, following the path along the hillside, which crosses halfway towards the descent, and arriving in the Prisa district, where there is the reservoir with the water used for a power plant.

They are present in the Cavagrande del Cassibile area important archaeological sites. At least one visit is a must Grotta dei Briganti, a place where Sicilian brigands took refuge at the end of the 19th century, and the prehistoric necropolis of Cassibile. There are two rock villages, the northern one that is immediately noticeable as soon as you look out from the belvedere, and the southern one, almost opposite. The first of the two dates back to the 11th-10th centuries BC, and it is possible to discover hundreds of paleochristian tombs and hypogea dug into the walls.


L’entrance to the Cavagrande Reserve is free, the advice is to choose with the advice is to go up again around 17.30. We remind you to follow only the itineraries recommended and approved by the forestry corps.

I “lakes of Avola“In Syracuse were included in the “Top 20” ranking , of the American TV CNN, of the places in the world where it is worth taking a dip.

It is one of the most suggestive places to swim in Sicily, excluding the sea. Be careful though, the water temperature is very low. If on the one hand it refreshes after the long walk in the sun, freezing water can be a risk.

Before venturing into this naturalistic paradise of Eastern Sicily, perhaps it is better get in touch with local hiking guides to inquire about any updates on the route to take to reach the lakes.

The path hides wild and uncontaminated places. A suggestive experience for all the senses, among the smells of native aromatic plants such as sage, thyme, rue, nepetella, oregano. But pay attention to the other spontaneous plants that, instead, they create hardly practicable routes.

Once the incredible experience in the ponds is over, one can return through the same path taken or with a stepped path near the dam. From here, it is possible to access and discover the rock settlement of Dieri. Along this path you can also reach the southern rock village. You can also go down to the Cassibile river, through paths that are not marked, but barely visible and very steep. Reason why we must be cautious and attentive.

Bring a costume it’s a change of clothes. Trekking shoes, also amphibious, it’s a dry bag to avoid losing or damaging smartphones and precious objects in an accidental fall into water.


The Cavagrande del Cassibile nature reserve is located between Syracuse and Avola.

Our advice, after a relaxing but tiring day at the “lakes” is to reach Avola and treat yourself to one fresh fish dinner in one of the restaurants found in the avolese seafront.

A good alternative is to cool off with a granita or ice cream Coffee La Bruna, or try the typical Sicilian sweets, starting with the cannolo.

For the more “rustic” palates, however, there is the sandwich seasoned with “Come to Tastari Avola Main Store”, A real savory delicacy to try for those looking for true Sicilian gastronomy.

Marco Panasia

This post is also available in: English