Grotta di Sant’Angelo Muxaro


Useful Information

Location: Via Messina, 2, 92020 Sant'Angelo Muxaro.
33 km from Agrigent, SS 118 for 18 km to Raffadali, 15 km towards Sant'Angelo Muxaro.
(37.477340, 13.547694)
Open: Surface tour: no restrictions.
Cave tour: on appointment with local association.
[2021]
Fee: Surface tour: free.
[2021]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: bring torch
Dimension: L=1,200m.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: O. Martelli (1899): Fenomeni analoghi a quelli carsici nei gessi di Sicilia, dagli Atti del III Congresso geografico italiano, aprile 1898, Vol. II, pag. 134-147, con 2 tavole, Firenze, 1899.
Address: R.N. Grotta Sant’Angelo Muxaro, Via Messina, 1, 92020 Sant’Angelo Muxaro (AG), Tel: +39-0922-919669, Cell: +39-320-6580990/1/2, Fax: 0922-919749. E-mail:
Val di Kam, Piazza Umberto I, 31 – 92020 – Sant’Angelo Muxaro – (Agrigento), Tel: +39-338-6762491. E-mail: E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1898 report by O. Martelli.
2000 Natural Reserve "Grotta di Sant'Angelo Muxaro" established.
2002 Val di Kam founded.

Description

The Grotta di Sant’Angelo Muxaro is named after the homonymous town. Sant’Angelo Muxaro has a quite exceptional location, on top of a 200 m high triangular table mountain which is 1 km long and 600 m wide.. The mountain is karstified and the water raining on the mountain reappears at the foot of the mountains in karst springs. But due to the small size of this mountain, the production is not very big, and they dry up during summer.

Actually the area is rather dry, which is a good thing, as the rocks are essentially limestone, gypsum and salts of various kinds. These sediments of the Gessoso-Solfifera series are Messinian (6 Ma) evaporites and easily soluble. The evaporites are rather common in south-western Sicily, forming a typical karst landscape with sinkholes, blind valleys, and different types of karren. The chalk is less soluble than the gypsum and salt and forms escarpments. The plain south of Sant’Angelo Muxaro is composed of chalk and drained by the Vallone Gracella, also known as Torrente Grovello. At the foot of the hill it flows into the Grotta di Sant’Angelo Muxaro and resurfaces in the resurgence of the Grotta Ciavuli on the northern side of the mountain. Immediately after the spring it flows into the Vallone Ponte, which flows into the Platani River after one kilometer, The Vallone Ponte (Valley of the Bridges) was named after two natural bridges.

The karst area with its various karst forms in known under the name Grotte d’Acqua (Water Caves). It is quite famous and has been a destination for scholars for centuries. The study conducted by Marinelli in 1899 of an excursion Sant'Angelo Muxaro and Santa Elisabetta provides an accurate description of the geology. It contains illustrations and a detailed map of all karst features.

The Grotta di Sant’Angelo Muxaro is locally called Grotta Ciavuli because of the large colony of jackdaws, ciaule in Sicilian. It has two branches, one is the active branch where the river flows through the mountain. The upper branch is a fossil branch. The cave has interesting crystals, mostly gypsum or selenite, and a column, which is very rare in gypsum.

The karst around the swallow hole on the southern side of town and the karst around the resurgence with the natural bridges are well worth a visit. Both areas are only accessible on foot. The cave is a true wild cave and visited on cave trekking tours offered by Val di Kam, but only on the resurgence side. The Nature reserve does not offer any tours, because "currently the reserve cannot be visited due to 2 communal decrees by the Municipality of S. Angelo Muxaro, which inhibit access to the areas of maximum protection." We have no idea what those decrees say, but as long as you do not ignore any obvious no trespassing signs you should be safe. Nevertheless, you can contact the headquarters of the reserve, for further information and for educational and scientific material available at the headquarters of the reserve. They also show a video presentation of the protected area after appointment. The administration offices of the Nature Reserve, the offices of Val di Kam and the archaeological museum of Sant’Angelo (MuSAm), are located at Piazza Umberto I. The museum is definitely worth a visit.