Simeto river  
     
     
     
 
 
   
 

 
  It is formed in Bronte by the joining of torrent Cutò with the river Serravalle. It flows into the Gulf of Catania in Contrad Torre Allegra. It is 85 km long. Place: Catania. It is driven by the station road of Simeto-Paternò-Curaci-Bronte. It receives the rivers Dittàino and Gornalunga from the right.
 
     
  The Simeto, main Sicilian river, has an hydrographical basin going for over 4000kmq in a large part of eastern Sicily.
 
     
  It originates under Maniace from the joining of the torrents Cutò, Martello and Saracena which come down from the southern side of Monti Nebrodi. It runs towards the southern regions flowing among the flows of the southern side of Etna and the sedimentary substratum of the province of Enna. South Paternò it changes its direction, it runs to the east, goes through the Catania Plain and after 120km flows into Mar Ionio.
 
     
  The apparent richness of water of the Simeto in the area of Primosole is due only to the sea water going into the earth, given the reduced slope of the riverbed; to the Ponte Primosole, that is about 2km from its mouth, the sea level is nearly 2 metres.
 
     
  To these particular slope conditions and to the irregular water contributions coming from the mount, characterized by infrequent floods, was due in past times the formation of large ponds and of wide marsh formations, now nearly disappeared, which presence is testified in the toponym that indicated the area until the beginning of the century : Pantano di Catania.  
     
 

 

 
 
simeto  
simeto
 
     
 

 

 
  The natural environment of the river Simeto  
  The environments of flowing waters have peculiar characteristics: they usually spread only along the water flow; and the exchanges with other environments are highly wide. Moreover, the environmental characteristics of downstream river are highly dependent on the ones of the whole hydro graphic mount basin. Along the river flow, from the spring to the mouth, the chemical-physical characteristics of water (temperature, salts, pH, oxygen, and so on) and the morphologic ones (substratum, slope, depth, wideness, flow, turbidity) can vary. For all these reasons a river flow is not unique but is made up of many environments, and each of them influence the downstream characteristics and, in someway, the mount ones.
 
     
  The sources are often unique for their chemical-physical characteristics and substratum. They take a small place and this can determine the peculiar fragility towards environmental alterations. They give hospitality to a special fauna, often with endemic species, natural and cultural evidence of millenniums of biological evolution. Unfortunately, the majority of springs have been discovered and only in the highest basins, especially in the Nebrodis, natural springs can be found. According to the geomorphologic or biological characteristics, we can share the river flow in three parts: a mountain, an intermediate and a plain part. Each of them has particular landscapes and peculiar environmental and biological aspects, all interesting and sometimes unique in Sicily.  
     
     
 
simeto  
simeto
 
     
 
 
  Flora and Fauna  
  The variety of protected environment and the poor human presence allow to observe species hardly visible in other parts of the river, except the humid areas. Here different Ardeidaes have been seen: Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea), Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea), Little Egret (Egretta Garzetta), Night Heron (Nycticorax), Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides). The steep bank wood, the cane thicket or bulrush bands and the environments with low waters are essential for their presence. The Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra) too and, above all, the Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) are very easy to see in this part of the river. During the periods of migration some species of duck can be seen. Among the thick vegetation it is common the Cetti’s Warbler (Cettia cetti), in the cane thicket the Eurasian Reed-Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus), among the tall grass the Zitting Cisticola (Cisticola jundicis). The Eurasian Pendoline-Tit (Remiz pendulinus) has many couples making nests and is in areas where there is no human presence. It is a species confined in Sicily and introduced in the Red List as vulnerable. In this part of the river the Kingfisher (alcedo attis) can be seen, a little bird with brightening colours that plunges in the water to find the fishes it eats. The faunistic interest has increased because many other birds, even they are not linked to the water environments, comes to the humid areas of the river.  
     
  Among the reptiles we can remark the presence of the Western Whip Snake (Coluber viridiflavus) and of the Grass Snake (Natrix natrix), that can be met along the river or in the water. The steep bank willows (Salix alba and Salix gussonei) are the most relevant vegetation aspect as in no other part of the Simeto they are so well developed, thick and very wide. Particularly interesting is the Salix gussonei which is endemic of some water flows of north-eastern Sicily and the survival of this species is allowed by the steep bank woods. In the floody tablelands, apart from the Tamarix (African Tamarix), the Broom (Spartium junceum) there is also the Oleander (Nerium oleander). Wide surfaces of the shores are covered by the peculiar vegetation where the Helichrysum italicum dominates. Going down to the valley, the river is stopped by the transom of Ponte Barca which has determined the formation of a storage that attracts many water birds.
 
     
  During summer downstream the storage the water is not flowed down and the negative consequences have repercussions on the whole remaining part of the Simeto, until the mouth. Along its way in the Plain of Catania the river is sometimes spoilt because of the numbers of embankments that goes to the mouth, and because of some other human interventions as fires. In the joining point of the river Dittaino with Simeto, the embankments are sufficiently distant from each other and this has allowed more natural conditions. Here the steep bank wood is wide enough and the shores are sandy. Particularly relevant is the presence of a large colony of a big Blue Mussel Mollusc, the Unio elongatulus, which could disappear because of the drying up of the rive; on the sandy walls of this part of the river in past time there was a colony of European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster), exterminated by poachers. The weak water flowing allows in different parts the settlement of a water vegetation in which two species of Potamogeton, characterized by their elegant floating leaves, predominate.  
     
     
     
  PHOTO GALLERY  
     
     
     
   
     
     
     
  Sources:  
  - www.legambiente.sicilia.it  
  - www.catania.tourinfo.it