Sicily can surprise you with its many beauties scattered here and there, sometimes in the most hidden of places. On a beautiful day you can take a drive north of Mount Etna towards the Peloritani and Nebrodi Mountains and visit the Argimusco, a site in the territory of Montalbano Elicona (Messina) which was awarded the most beautiful medieval town in Italy in 2015.
As you step on this high plateau at about 3600 ft above the sea level you will be stunned by the amazing view on Mount Etna on one side and the Aeolian Islands right on the horizon. Moreover, the sublime feeling will be emphasized by the numerous large rocks that rise above the woods of ferns and holm oaks in a place often referred to as the “Sicilian Stonehenge”.
Even if these majestic quartz sandstone blocks are often called megaliths suggesting that they are the result of prehistoric human craft, the reason of their bizarre zoomorphic and anthropomorphic shape is actually to be found in the perennial erosion of the wind and the rain. Some of the rocks have been given evocative names, such as the eagle, the elephant, the alchemist, the praying woman, the baboon, the priest (or the warrior).
Although a vast portion of the scientific community is inclined to believe that the rocks have been modeled by atmospheric agents, this doesn’t mean that the site has never been occupied by the human being, as demonstrated by the discovery of a number of burials and pools carved in the rock to collect rainwater. This suggests that already in the Neolithic prehistoric men might have used the Argimusco as a sort of sacred area to connect with the divinities of nature and afterlife.
In the past years this site has risen renewed interest because a number of academics have started to study the arrangement of the rocks that supposedly mirror the pattern of stars and constellations. The location of the Argimusco, combined with its 360-degree view over the horizon, might have been the ideal characteristics for the primitive man to use this place as a primordial observatory and produce an actual astronomical calendar to do rituals related to religion and the cycles of nature.
If you love exploring off-the-beaten-track places or you are intrigued by astronomy, astrology and mystery, a hike in this area should definitely be on your bucket list. A couple of local associations also offer the possibility to arrange guided tours or to take part in special events during the spring and fall equinox. A beautiful afternoon walk in the Argimusco will connect you with the wild nature and will reward you with the surreal atmosphere of an esoteric place, an amazing sunset and a breathtaking sky full of stars at night.