The ancient Greek colony lies south of Lentini, a small agricultural town most relying on citrus fruits cultivation. It was greatly affected by the earthquake of 1693. The centre of town is marked by the Chiesa Madre dedicated to Sant'Alfio (a hugely popular saint here and in the hamlets around Etna); preserved in its paleo-Christian under-ground vault are the relics, it is alleged, of St. Alfio, St. Filadelfio and St. Cirino, as well as a 9th century Byzantine image of the Hodegetria Madonna. Relics from excavations at Leontinoi are dislayed at the Archaeological Museum.
Access is easiest via Carlentini. This area has been inhabited since protohistoric times (as the bases of huts on Collina di Metapiccola testify: these rnay be reached by a track that leads off to
the right from the entrance to the archeological zone). In 729 BC it was targeted by the Chalcidians of Naxos as a good place to found a colony. It was here that the philosopher Gorgias was born. Excavations have brought to light remains of various monumental pyramidal tombs and walling beyond. The Syracusan gate serves as the main entrance to the town. The way leads on towards what is assumed to be the site of an acropolis (on Colle San Mauro) where vestiges of a temple have been found. The track climbs up past the circular base of a possible defence tower. From the
top, a wonderful view extends over Lentini and, in the distance, a man-made lake known as the
Biviere. The mount to the left is Colle di Sant'Egidio where the town's necropolis was located, complete with tombs excavated from the base rock.
Case del Biviere – In the Contrada Biviere; from Lentini railway station turn right and follow the sign for SP 67 to Valsavoia. By the fork in the road on the right, stands a villa with a large green entrance. According to legend, when Heracles came to these parts intending to present the skin of the Nemean lion to Ceres, he fell in love with the area and created a lake which would bear his name; this was subsequentiy changed to Biviere (to mean ‘drinking trough’ or ‘fish-farm’) during the Arab occupation. The house was built on the eastern edge of the lake which was in-filled during the 1930s, when it came to be restored to its original state. It was made smaller and removed to some distance frorn the villa. The lovely gardens that now surround the house were initiated in 1967 at the behest of the Borghese princes. They comprise a broad variety of Mediterranean species including yuccas, palms, flowering trees (Jacaranda, originally from Brazil, and Judas trees), together with more exotic plants such as Xanthorrea arborea and Encefaloartus horridus, the silvery blue Prickly cycad which was thought to exist only in fossil form before it was discovered growing in Tanzania. The stone jetties of the old port are home to a fine collection of succulent plants.