The Cava d’Ispica, located between Modica, Rosolini and Ispica, extends approximately in the range east longitude 14 ° 49 ’56’ -14 ° 55 ’02 “and in the north latitude 36 ° 47′ 08″ – 36 ° 52 ’16”. The valley is bordered in the north by the areal of c.da Trebalate, Finocchiara, Grotticelli, Scorsone and Scalaricotta, in the southern part by the areal of c.da Calicantone and Crocifia. It stretches for about 15 km, with a north-west / south-east trend starting upstream from c.da Trebalatea at an altitude of about 400 m above the sea level, up to Parco Forza in Ispica at an altitude of about 80 metres above the sea level.
In particular, starting from its top part, you can observe alternations of Member Irminio, divided into:
- Calcarenitic-marl Alternation: this sequence represents the top of the Irminio member. It is an alternation of hard calcarenitic greyish layers, about 60 cm thick, and soft light marl layers, less thick but which tends to increase towards the top of the sequence. The age of the succession is Aquitanian-Langhian.
- Levels of calcarenitic and yellowish-white calciruditi benches, medium-hard and one or two metres thick, alternating with porous and brittle layers, about 15 cm thick. The age of the succession is Aquitanian- Lower Burdigalian.
On the valley bottom, next to the torrential incision, the erosion of the riverbed originated some morphological jumps of several metres, during the runoff phases in winter, affected by small sparkling cascades pouring in basins (Urva), called Marmitte dei Giganti (potholes).
The presence of carbonate layers, even in this quarry caused by the formation of karstic morphologies, linked to the action of solution made by the acidic water on the limestone. Therefore, along the quarry you can observe a rich set of karstic morphologies, both on surface and underground, divided as follows:
Karstic surface microforms, given by:
- Flutes and showers on the slopes, slightly inclined to vertical;
- Corrosion tubs on rocky terraces and ledges;
- Holes and solution vacuolarity in limestone layers.
Karstic underground macroforms consisting in:
- Karstic caves in calcarenitic benches;
- solution cavities in travertine.
Other forms of solution morphologies are:
- Travertine deposits in different parts of the valley;
- Microforms by bioturbation, alveolus type, in the slopes exposed to the erosive wind action and the corrosive rainwater.
Some of the most significant forest formations, which previously populated the valley, now have disappeared or reduced; the riparian vegetation along the riverbed is absent due to the disappearance of the river; however, there are still a number of interesting geobotanical aspects and landscape.
The slopes are covered with relics of a holm oak grove, dominated by the holm oak (Quercusilex), mastic trees (Pistacialentiscus), and several species of the Mediterranean Maquis. Now, you can find this type of vegetation only in the most inaccessible rocky walls, reduced to a few relict flaps. In several areas, there are still various specimens of downy oak (Quercuspubescens).
The accessible and less steep areas have been terraced and have been used as vegetable gardens and orchards, interrupting the natural evolution of the forest.
The original vegetation gradually became high or low Mediterranean maquis, depending on the greater or lesser human pressure.
The most widespread vegetation in the rocky and sunny traits consists of a high bush characterized by the presence of small trees and many shrubs such as the arborescent euphorbia (Euphorbiadendroides), the wild olive (Olea europea sylvestris), associated with numerous trees, shrubs and herbaceous species, such as buckthorn (Rhamnusalaternus), mastic tree (Pistacialentiscus), the carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua), myrtle (Myrtuscommunis), Erika (Erica multiflora), wild pear (Pyruspyraster) and rose hip (dog Rasa) .
On the vertical cliffs there are highly specialized endemic or rare cave species. The most peculiar is the putoria of the rocks (Putoriacalabrica), the rupicolo carnation (Dianthus rupicola), the catchfly (Silene fruticosa), the Hyssop (Micromeriamicrophylla), the Scabiosa cretica, the snapdragon (Antirrhinumsiculum), capers (Capparis spinosa) and a rare Sicilian endemism, the iblean trachelium (Tracheliumlanceolatum). This interesting vegetation forms an association called Putorio-Micromerietummicrophyllae.
The scrubland is widespread, formed by low bushy bearings, including thyme (Thymuscapitatus), helichrysum (Helichrysumstoechas), the bushy milkweed (Euphorbiacharacias), the dwarf palm (Chamaeropshumilis), the germander (Teucriumflavum and Teucriumfruticans ) and three-lobed sage (Salvia triloba).
During the Spring, the erosion tubs of the rock will turn red for the appearance of a characteristic crassulacea , the blue stonecrop (Sedumcaeruleum) that forms the typical ephemeral lawns. Finally, in the clearings of the scrubs you can observe numerous species of wild orchids.
The riparian vegetation, once made up by the interesting association Platano Salicetumpedicellatae, typical of the iblean quarries, is now disappearing; only a few oleanders and cane thicket remain.
Next to the sources and on the slopes, after heavy winter rains, an ephemeral herbaceous hygrophilous vegetation starts developing, made up of an extended carpet of bryophytes (mosses) covered by ferns such as maidenhair fern (Adiantumcapillus-veneris) and other species like water linen (Samolusvalerandi ) and an extremely rare fern, the pteride with long leaves (Pteris vittata), observable only in a few iblean quarries.
Animals related to the aquatic environment are missing, apart from some amphibians like the green toad, the common toad and the rare Discoglosso. Among the mammals there are the fox, porcupines, weasels, hedgehogs; among the reptiles you can observe the green lizard, the grass snake, the Cervone, while among the birds you can spot the Tortora, the Pigeons, the buzzard and Kestrel falcon, the barn owl, the ravens, the jackdaws, the hoopoe.
Travel time and difficulty
easy to medium-term route, lasting about three hours
Travel time and difficulty
easy to medium-term route, lasting about 4 hours