There is a very peculiar mount in the Sicani range: the town of Sant’Angelo Muxaro is balanced on its summit and its steep slopes are perforated by large caves of great speleological interest. The Nature Reserve of the Grotte di Sant’Angelo Muxaro, managed by the Legambiente Sicilia, has the main aim of protecting the fascinating underground world, considered of great interest for the study of underground waterways of the past and present and the genesis of underground chalk rocks. Specialized guides are prepared to accompany visitors into the caves on excursions to small waterfalls, underground lakes, rock formations and peculiar crystals. The cave is temporarily closed to visitors. But it is possible to make an alternative and very interesting visit to the Vallone del Ponte, exclusively accompanied by specialized guides: the excursion follows a narrow gorge cut out by the torrent which runs into the river Platani.
This system of approximately 1,5km is also called Vallone Ponte-Grotte d’Acqua because some parts of the underground riverbed are filled by running water. Furthermore, the excursion is particularly varied as underground passages are alternated. Muxaro is a lovely destination for a daytrip because of its natural beauty, interesting archaeological sites and genuine local traditions. Legend has it that this was the place where Kamikos, the impregnable city built by Daedalus as a gift for hospitality received from the Sican King Kokalos, was built. According to mythology, Daedalus escaped from Crete, where he had been imprisoned king Minosse, by means of a pair of waxen wings with which he managed to fly to the south coast of Sicily where he found refuge in the territory of Kokalos.
Kokalos not only welcomed him but also defended him from the attacks of the furious Minosse, who landed at the mouth of the river Platani years later to recapture Daedalus. This might only be a myth, but the historic importance of the area is confirmed by the vast necropolis underlying the town and the sumptuous Tomba del Principe: the largest protohistoric tomb found in Sicily, with two round vaulted sepulchral chambers typical of the period of the Mycenae. In fact, centuries before Greek colonization, the valley of the Platani was a rich and active hive of exchange amongst the Mediterranean civilizations and the very heart of Sican culture, as proven by important archaeological specimens showcased in the archaeological museum of Sant’Angelo Muxaro, of Agrigento and of Syracuse, where two magnificent gold rings are exhibited. The British Museum houses a rare and exquisitely beautiful golden libation bowl.
The Nature Reserve Grotta di Sant’Angelo, run by Legambiente Sicilia, is temporarily closed. Nevertheless, various guided speleological excursions in the Vallone del Ponte and Grotte d’Acqua are available on request.
Various walks, hikes, excursions and personal tourism experiences are available to visitors wishing to explore nature, archaeology, local artistry and typical products of Sant’Angelo Muxaro and the surrounding area.
The proposed excursions are available on request.
Prices vary according to the chosen experience and its duration.
For further information and booking, contact:
Speleological excursions: Ufficio Legambiente Sicilia
+39 0922919669 / +39 3206580990 / +39 3289529529
Archaeological, natural and experiental tourism excursions: Ufficio Val di Kam
Grotta di Sant’Angelo Muxaro: the following coordinates indicate Piazza Umberto I.
Piazza Umberto I is in the vicinity of the administration offices of the Nature Reserve, the offices of Val di Kam and MuSAm, the archaeological museum of Sant’Angelo.
N 37° 28' 49.04''
E 13° 32' 46.19''
37.480288 , 13.546162