gazzena

Length: 320 m

Level of difficulty: medium-high

Average time of completion: 2 hrs

 

The Acquegrandi (Acquaranni) trail crosses one of the most intact stretches of Acireale’s Timpa. Its entrance is located next to the little church of Our Lady of Good Help (rebuilt between 1769 and 1773), which opens on the homonymous lane; a narrow, rural path accessible from the village of Santa Caterina or from Santa Maria delle Grazie, bordered by tall lava rock walls covered with Ivy and Smilax bushes.On the church façade appears the inscription Auxilium Christianorum and on the northern side you can see a small paved lane. Between high dry walls covered by Hackberry, Eucalyptus, Alaternus, domesticated Olive Trees and arborescent Ivy starts the path leading to Acquegrandi. After walking through an open metal gate, the little road becomes an uneven lane, flanked by a stonework which supports an irrigation canal. After coming across a monumental specimen of Downy Oak, you get to a slight slope which overlooks the escarpment below, offering a wide view of the sea: to the right, the Acquegrandi beach and, to the left, the slopes of Timpa di Don Masi, where can be found Downy Oaks, Wild Olives and peopling of Arundo pliniana. It is also an excellent birdwatching spot.At the time of pirate raids, one of the lookout points of the whole coast was located near the plateau, enriched by specimens of Carob Trees and Olives. There is also a memorial stone devoted to Matteo Mustica, a young scuba diver from Catania who died of embolism in the underlying water.

To reach the sea you need to walk along a steep and challenging trail with stone steps which, crossing the escarpment with points of considerable difference in height, is immersed in a beautiful landscape rich in typical vegetation (Elm, Hackberry, Alaternus, Euphorbia, Prickly Pear, Prickly Asparagus, Dianthus Sylvestris) and geological formations of utmost interest. Along the beach, which extends over several hundred metres and is mainly made of stones rounded by the action of the sea (coculi), you can find the surface water spring this place is named under; once it was characterised by an abundant flow of water, hence the name ranni (= big).

Northward, on the shoreline, you can observe boulders corroded by sea salt and various coastal plant species (Wallflower, Caper, Box Thorn, Sea Fennel). After about 200 metres there is a remarkable fossil deposit (hardly reachable by land).