Tall and white rocks marked by grooves perpendicular to emerge among the green of the valley adorned with the usual culture of this corner of Sicily are the karren, grooves molded by the slow action of the rain.
And then a karst landscape and chalky, uneven and sculpted by time, the fact of sinkholes and blind valleys: is the area of preriserva, extending for about 150 acres, which spreads around the creek Biviere, that little stream that part from the top of the plateau, 663 meters above sea level, and that comes down to the valley and then suddenly disappear into thin air, leaving us only the possibility to follow, if you will, where the sun does not reach there, in the depths of cavities and tunnels in the cave of Santa Ninfa.
The latter represents the area of the reserve at its true: a cavity extended horizontally for about 1400 m and is divided between an upper zone, now dry, and a bottom where the water is still king. How skilled carvers and patients, time and nature have run their course and were able to draw beautiful mineral deposits of multiple colors.
The halls and walls of the cave exhibit proudly curtains, stalactites, inflorescences mineral forms that stretch elegant and what are called "cave pearls", small balls of calcite rare and beautiful. Suspended in limbo, the drops of water are there motionless, fixed forever in that moment of indecision between the ability to disperse anonymous to the ground or to become immortal sculptures.
The reserve lies in the municipalities of Santa Ninfa and Gibellina and consists of a plateau of chalky nature that is characterized by the presence of large number of cavities, including the cave of Santa Ninfa stands out for the high interest and geomorphological cave. The Monte Finestrelle, to whose slopes the Biviere hosts a early Christian necropolis dating back to the time when they lived in the area Elimi. On the southern open a series of rock-cut tombs that have precisely the form of many "windows".
The visits - You can visit the reserve all year round, any day you want. Legambiente organizes free, by reservation, guided tours through the whole territory of the reserve. At the edge of the reserve, you will also find the Museum of agroforestry that celebrates the ancient peasant culture and the Forest of Finestrelle, the area equipped for your entertainment.
How to get there:
From the A29 Palermo - Mazara del Vallo, exit at Salemi travel the state and 188 in the direction of Santa Ninfa.
The Fauna of the Santa Ninfa Cave.
The Cave - The Cave of Santa Ninfa, already large for the same conformation and constitution of its structure, is enhanced even more by the cave fauna that settled there, being able to live in such a humid environment devoid of light. Recently, it has been discovered inside a cave arthropod species new to science: the centipede Choneiulus faunaeuropae.
The valley - the valley of Biviere live hedgehogs and porcupines, the Rabbit, the Weasel and the Fox. There are also numerous examples of Buzzard, medium-sized bird of prey with large wings, of Kestrel, a bird of prey that fluctuates in flight, Nightingale and Jay, easily recognizable by the blue-white spots on the wings. In the summer, Bee-eaters, small and colorful, they stop here to give birth to their young. Of great interest among amphibians, is the presence of Discoglosso, now rare species found only in the western Mediterranean.
The Flora of Santa Ninfa Cave.
In the downstream catchment of the cave, surviving traces of Mediterranean: they feel the scents of thyme shrub and 'Laurel, you can enjoy the colors of wild orchids and lush bushes of' Euphorbia trees. Beautiful colored expanses: the bunches of white 'Garlic Pelosetta, the petals of the blue and yellow ones Damsel country's largest Boccione together with Cicerchia purple, which from March begins to show its beautiful violet flowers with purple-red flag.
The arid nature of the land, together with the effect of gypsum, greatly hinders the growth of vegetation. However, some species have overcome the harsh natural selection and living on gypsum: Cabbage Tineo, a plant endemic to the island rock, lichen, moss i gess of whitish, small succulents perennials, Linajola, perennial plant with yellow flowers corolla.
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