Sicily’s ancient salt reserves

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The area comprising the Nature Reserve of the Stagnone Islands of Marsala and the Salt Pans of Trapani and Paceco is characterized by lagoons and marshes with shallow water ranging from 50 cm to 2 metres in depth.
The reserve includes the 4 islands of San Pantaleo (Mozia), Isola Grande, Schola and Santa Maria in the area of Marsala and the stretch of coast at Paceco between Torre Nubia and Salina Grande in the territory of Trapani.
The lagoons were formed relatively recently (they were not present at the time of of the Phoenecian colonization of Mozia) by undersea currents which caused movement of the sand. The water flow in the resulting lagoons was severely reduced, the water stagnated and the temperature of the water rose.
The primary activity in the lagoons was, and still is to a certain extent today, the production of salt: the method is fairly simple and consists of channelling sea water into small ponds, allowing it to evaporate under the sun and collecting the salt which is then left to dry in piles which are covered in terracotta tiles that take on the appearance of the roof of a house.
The water was pumped using wind mills, some of which have been restored and remain visible today.
The reserves are always open to visitors and you can find the reception area with information at Mulino Maria Stella on the provincial road that runs from Trapani to Marsala.
The main points of interest are migratory birds such as herons and flamingoes which stop en route to Africa, the old wind mills, some of which are open to visitors by prior appointment, the salt museum near Torre Nubia and the ruins and necropolis on the island of Mozia where the ancient Phoenecian city of the same name was located. The remains of an old aircraft hangar used in the Second World War can also be seen.
The Riserva dello Stagnone di Trapani is characterized by small lakes of sea water that are used for production of sea salt and windmills, nearly all of which have now been restored and can be visited. There is also a salt museum here.