The small lakes of Cavagrande del Cassibile, a natural paradise


A tour of the Laghetti di Cavagrande del Cassibile offers an unforgettable experience in the heart of eastern Sicily. This protected natural area, located in Avola, in the province of Syracuse, is famous for its spectacular canyons carved over millennia by the erosive action of the Cassibile River. With its enchanting natural crystal-clear water pools, hidden waterfalls and lush vegetation, Cavagrande is a paradise for nature lovers, trekkers and photographers.

History and geography

The formation of Cavagrande del Cassibile dates back about 5-6 million years, during the Late Miocene and Pliocene, when tectonic movements and fluvial erosion began to shape the landscape. This process created a canyon about 300 meters deep, one of the largest canyons in Europe, characterized by steep cliffs and a rich variety of flora and fauna.

The Canyon of Cavagrande del Cassibile
The small lakes of Cavagrande del Cassibile seen from above
Cavagrande del Cassibile paleolithic settlements

The Cavagrande area has been inhabited since prehistoric times, as evidenced by archaeological findings dating back to the Paleolithic period. Over the centuries, the site has been used by various civilizations, including the Siculians, Greeks, and Byzantines, because of its natural resources and strategic location. Necropolis and ruins of ancient settlements testify to the historical importance of this area.
Geographically, the reserve covers an area of about 2,700 hectares.
The Cassibile River, which flows through the quarry, is the main architect of the creation of the ponds. These small freshwater basins were formed by river erosion, which carved out small natural pools in the limestone rock. The crystal-clear water in the ponds varies in depth and temperature, offering refreshment to visitors during the hot summer months.

Biodiversity and environmental protection

Cavagrande del Cassibile is a valuable habitat for many species of plants and animals, some of them endemic and protected. The diversity of microenvironments, from wetlands to rock walls, supports the presence of rich and varied flora and fauna. To preserve this natural heritage, the area was declared an Oriented Nature Reserve in 1990, with the aim of protecting biodiversity and promoting scientific research and environmental education.

The trekking experience

Today, the Laghetti di Cavagrande del Cassibile are a popular tourist destination, attractive not only for their natural beauty and refreshing bathing opportunities but also for trekking, birdwatching and photography opportunities.
The tour begins with a route that, although it can be challenging, rewards visitors with breathtaking views and the opportunity, once there, to soak in the cool, clear waters of the ponds. The trail descends along the canyon, passing through varied natural environments rich in biodiversity. Along the way, various species of plants and animals can be observed, witnessing the rich local flora and fauna.
The trail has sections of varying difficulty, and requires good physical fitness, as well as appropriate footwear. It is important to leave equipped in addition to shoes and good physical training, with water, hat and sunscreen, especially in the summer months. The beauty of this place I assure you is absolutely worth the trip.

Cava Grande del Cassibile
The path of Cavagrande del Cassibile

The magic of ponds

One of the pools with waterfalls at Cavagrande del Cassibile

Once at the ponds, visitors can choose to relax on the rocky shores, swim in the cool waters or explore additional waterfalls and natural pools. Here the landscape is transformed into a veritable aquatic paradise of crystal-clear waters. The ponds are surrounded by limestone rocks and lush vegetation, creating a magical and relaxing atmosphere. You can explore several natural pools, each with unique characteristics, and enjoy the tranquility and unspoiled beauty of the place. Observing wildlife up close, such as dragonflies circling over the water and small fish swimming in the pools, further enriches the experience.
It is advisable to bring a packed lunch, as there are no food services within the reserve.
For those seeking a more in-depth experience, guided tours offering insights into the geology, history, and ecology of the area are available. These tours are an excellent opportunity to learn more about the importance of conservation of these natural environments and local traditions.

Conservation, environmental compliance future challenges

Cavagrande del Cassibile is a natural treasure that requires active engagement in its conservation. Visitors are asked to follow park rules, avoiding leaving trash and harming flora and fauna. It is essential to adopt a sustainable tourism approach, appreciating the beauty of the place without compromising its integrity. Local authorities and environmental associations play a crucial role in protecting this natural wonder.
Visiting the small lakes of Cavagrande del Cassibile offers a unique experience, combining the adventure of trekking with the wonder of unspoiled natural landscapes. This place is not only an escape from daily routine but also an opportunity to reflect on the importance of nature conservation. Whether you are an avid hiker, nature lover or simply looking for a place to relax away from the hustle and bustle of daily life, Cavagrande is an invitation to rediscover the value of silence, contemplation and adventure, which is essential for anyone who wishes to connect with nature in an authentic and respectful way.

The small lakes of Cava Grande del Cassibile
Cava Grande del Cassibile
The largest of the ponds at Cava Grande del Cassibile

The growing popularity of the Cavagrande as a tourist destination presents challenges for its conservation. Balancing accessibility for visitors with protection of the fragile ecosystem is critical. Environmental awareness initiatives, regulation of access, and promotion of sustainable tourism are essential to ensure that future generations can continue to admire and respect the small lakes of Cavagrande del Cassibile.

The descent time is about 50 minutes, the ascent depending on the speed can take up to 2 hours, with steep gradient.

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