Gole della Stretta, rock climbing in Sicily
Max Flaccavento introduces the Gole della Stretta crag in Sicily. A "magical place" for climbing, with nearly 30 routes up to 8a.
There are places that echo for years in people's memories, almost as if they were a distant paradise whose beauty only a select few are allowed to enjoy. Corners of the world often not too distant, but due to having been abandoned they are visited only sporadically instead of often as they should be. This is even more the case when these places are anything but distant.
One of these places is definitely Gole della Stretta in Italy's province of Siracusa. Located a few kilometres from Buccheri, it's a magical place that for long, maybe far too long, had fallen into oblivion. Unjustly so since the rock is beautiful as is the environment that surrounds it.
The crag had been first bolted years ago by Giovanni Brugaletta, a keen climber from Pedagaggi who subsequently moved up North, and in the ensuing years it thrived due to the some beautiful, easy slabs. Time, however, as always left its mark, aging the bolts, rendering the belays unsafe and make sure that vegetation once again regained the upper hand thanks to the laws imposed by nature. This resulted in the crag becoming less and less popular and for us climbers from the province of Ragusa this was always a good reason not to go there.
One early winter day received an invitation from Davide Gallo, a climber and friend from Noto, and suddenly we found ourselves at the base of the crag. Needless to say it was love at first sight, and that since that moment a sort of agreement was made between us and the cliff. Davide made the first ascent of a beautiful new route on the left while we, doing what we could, planned future lines through the overhangs. We traced possible new routes up what the rock offered, some of which were so logical we remained dumbfounded and thankful for having all this rock to ourselves, so much to interpret and experience.
The rest is recent history, dozens of days spent replacing old anchors at the top of the routes, struggling against old rusty bolts, removing vegetation from the rock face and the base of the routes. And of course spending days establishing the routes, new and beautiful, ground-up.
We were motivated by personal satisfaction, for having returned the crag to its deserved former glory and for having created a place to climb and experience intense days in silence and in nature. For our part, we can only wish all those who come to Sicily's crags happy climbing.
Last but not least, I would like to personally thank Giovanni Brugaletta, Gabriele Puccia, Antonio Tidona, Piero Criscione, Vincenzo Di Maria, Peppe “Kona” Barbagallo, Peppe Leggio and all my other friends who share the same passion, for the time spent in this gorge, accepting the hardships of long working days and reaping the rewards which this umpteenth project has given us.
by Max Flaccavento
TOPO: Gole della Stretta, Sicily