Santo Pietro forest (Natural Reserve)
From the 19th century romantic town of Santo Pietro (that has fascist architecture from the early 1900s), kind of a ghost town now, comes the name of this forest from ancient memory.
It was, in fact, a gift from the Norman King Ruggero to the city of Caltagirone for their help in defeating the Saracens (1160).
The extent of it, together with the neighboring Cork of Niscemi, was 30,000 acres compared to the increasingly vast actual 2,500. From a geological point of view, the terrain is full of fossils dating to 1.8 million years ago (Lower Pleistocene), with many shells.
The major characteristic of this forest is the presence of very old and monumental cork oaks (Quercus suber), tress that are in their fifties, with a circumference of more than 1.3 meters. And if you find yourself in the forest, do not miss the one near Molara that approaches about 6.2 meters in circumference.
The area is rich in water sources that make for small natural waterfalls and some artificial fountains. (Cacciathours, Molare e Ficuzza).
There are also some mills around here, such as Poli, Ramione and Archi, which testify to the past presence of man in the territory.
Along the stream that feeds the reserve, we find poplars and willow trees, an ideal refuge for herons, egrets and kingfishers (photo).
Worth a visit, in the town of Santo Pietro, is the delicious museum of Mediterranean scrub.