Hyblean mountain area forms the southeastern tip of Sicily. Its natural limits are marked on the north side by the plain of Catania, on the westside by the river Dirillo (Rg) and on the east and southside by the Ionian and Mediterranean seas. It is located in the provinces of Siracusa and Ragusa.
Hyblean" name goes back to the legendary Sicilian king Hyblon who reigned in these places and who granted a portion of the coastal territory to the first Greek settlers to erect the town of Megara Iblea.
It is a
massive white shelly limestone marl of the Miocene period and, in the coastal areas of the south-east of Sicily, a Pleistocene sedimentary sandstone is called "giuggiulena" in Sicilian language, because it is easy to crumble in granules that have a similar size like the sesame seeds.
In the northern portion of the Hyblean plateau, near its top, namely the
Monte Lauro (986 m), there are basalt outcrops of volcanic pillow (pillow lava) that are made by sub marine lava dating back to the Pleistocene and earlier formation of Etna.
The characteristic of the Hyblean area is to be cut by
canyons and gorges sometimes meandering that are carved by incessant flow of rivers and streams, typical example of karstification. In fact, from the Hyblean mountains originate the Irminio river (which divides the plateau in the north-south flowing between Modica and Ragusa), the Dirillo river, the Ippari river, the Tellaro river, the Anapo river, which flows into the sea near Siracusa, and the Cassibile river.
These waterways were crucial for the history of the populations of th is territory constituting communication route between the coast and the hinterland, the control of which was of primary importance for the survival and prosperity of local communities.
Thus the canyons represent one of the distinctive elements of the
Hyblean landscape. These enviroments are rich in biodiversity and they are characterized by a marked stratification of vegetation: the Platanus orientalis (Oriental plane), the Nerium oleander (wild Oleander), the Willow and the Poplar, together with other species, vegetate at the bottom of these canyons creating lush riparian forests, while , on the sides of the valley, they give way to Oak forests like the Quercus ilex and the Quercus pubescens, but also to grasslands of Ampelodesma plant widely used in the past for making cordage. On the steepes t walls it is possbile to observe some plants that grow on its cliff: the Erica multiflora, the Trachelio siciliano, rather than the Caper and other floristic elements.
The uplands that stand above the canyons are mostly dominated by the
Mediterranean vegetation, with scrub species such as the Pistacia lentiscus (Mastic tree), the Myrthus communis (Myrtle) and the Pistacia terebinthus together with aromatic herbs such as Thymus, Salvia and wild fennel that finds its most exaggerated expression further to the present of some incomparable value and beauty endemism.
Finally, the landscape is made even more impressive by the meander of
dry stone walls that surround olive trees and carob, almond, walnut groves, vineyards and citrus groves as a sure sign of man's presence that, over the centuries, has transformed and used this beautiful area. In fact, before the Greeks, the Iblei had to be rich in forests like the rest of Sicily.