Exploring: Pantalica, Part 2

February 22, 2010

So here's the second part of our hike: the descent into the river area. As we hiked around the rim of the canyon, we began to notice that the walls of stone were covered with thousands of openings. We had entered the necropolis. And not just any necropolis, but actually the largest rock necropolis in all of Europe. Thousands of burial sites dating back to the 13th-7th centuries BC. It was hard to believe what we were seeing and even harder to believe that once again we were not standing in long lines or buying tickets to see this amazing piece of history. If you enlarge the first photo, you can see the square openings carved into the walls of both sides of the canyon. It is a huge and impressive sight.At this point the path became increasingly steep and narrow as we climbed down towards the river. We left the sunny, flower covered paths of the upper rim and entered a cool, shady world of moss covered rocks and rushing water. The kids were drawn to the water like magnets. Camille worked diligently at producing some of her own creations with the river rocks. While the boys scampered up and over the large rocks trying to find a way to get all the way across the river. When Adam and the kids were hiking the same path in January, they had been able to walk across on the low stones, but this time the water was higher and we didn't attempt it. The water was clear and it would be very inviting on a hot summer day. It was so clear in fact that we saw our first snake since moving to Sicily. We watched a small water snake try to catch a frog. Which reminded me that I should get my hands on a good identification book(s) for animals/reptiles of Sicily/Mediterranean. Any suggestions?
A few final thoughts on this hike. We entered the park through the Sortino entrance. After passing through the town of Sortino, follow a small winding road towards Panatlica until it comes to a dead end. Park on the side of the road and enter through the small gravel path. Be sure to bring water, sunscreen, and snacks. There aren't any facilities on this path. The other, larger entrances apparently have parking areas, bathrooms, and one even has a museum/visitor center. The other entrances are also supposed to have more gentle hiking paths. We would not recommend this particular Pantalica hike for those with bad knees/ankles. It is also not a good hike for families with babies or young children who might wander off the edge of the canyon (there aren't any railings). It is not stroller friendly and could be scary even to have a kid in a carrier/backpack because of the steep areas.

We had a great day and look forward to exploring more of Pantalica on future visits.
Emily said...

Wow! This looks and sounds like an incredible day! We haven't been there before, but if Chris ever comes home again (sigh) I need to get directions from you. This looks like a place I'd love to explore! (Although, we'd probably have to do a gentler hike. I can *definitely* see Penelope walking off a cliff!) Anyway, thanks for another great destination!

Jocelyn said...

Hi--I'm "de-cloaking" here, as I've visited your blog a couple of times now. I found you by doing a search for "Sicily expat blogs," and that evening, I had a terrific time admiring your photos, exclaiming to my computer that I was reading the same books as you, and marveling at your adventures.

You see, our family has been in negotiations with a Sicilian family to to a long-term housing exchange when I'm on sabbatical next year (I'm a community college teacher), and when I first discovered your blog, it was in the hopeful stage...which now has evolved into certainty, as we seem to have reached agreement with the Sicilian family!

At any rate, while I'm very excited to do this exchange, I'm also nervous and overwhelmed (What WILL we do with our kids, ages 10 and 7? Will we be able to get around with no Italian? etc...). Anyhow, your blog is inspiring to me, in terms of building anticipation. I really appreciate all the information you're putting out!

So there.

Dim Sum, Bagels, and Crawfish said...

Emily,yes, avoid the specific hike we took, but add Panatalica to your list of places to visit before leaving Sicily. I think it will just get more and more beautiful in the next few weeks with Spring quickly approaching.

Ciao, Jocelyn! Nice to meet you. I hope you and your family will love Sicily as much as we do. Send me an e-mail and I'd be happy to answer any questions you might have about this wild and wonderful island.

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