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May 15, 2017

Sicily: Via del Sale

A path between evaporating ponds at Riserva Naturale Orientata Saline di Trapani e Paceco.

Coastal highway SP21 between Trapani and Marsala Sicily takes motorists through a flat landscape of saline pools, mounds of salt, and decommissioned mulini or windmills. Conditions in this area of Sicily are ideal for the production of salt. Salt has been produced near Trapani for centuries.

It wasn’t by plan but 2016 turned out to been our year of discovery of the history of salt. Earlier we visited Salins-les-Bains in France’s Jura and Saline Royal in Arc-et-Senans in the Doubs. In the Jura and the Doubs underground saline aquifers are the source of the salt; boiling off the water concentrates the brine producing crystalline salt. Later in the year, while on the west coast of Sicily, we toured the saltpans near Trapani. Here the sun and the wind slowly evaporate seawater leaving behind dry salt in the open ponds.

Mounds of salt

Through the centuries salt production has been a big business. Today technical advances and improved transportation has reduced the price of commodity salt. Less economically viable manufacturing means have fallen by the wayside. Unable to produce bulk salt at a competitive price, production has shifted away from Trapani. Today Trapani makes small quantities of epicurean salt for discerning eaters. The culinary salt that is produced in this area is considered some of the finest in Italy.

Traveling from Erice to Marsala we paused to visit Riserva Naturale Orientata Saline di Trapani e Paceco. At the reserve we were able to walk out among the photogenic salt ponds. Afterwards we took a guided tour the salt museum. The guide, a member of the owner’s family, shared the process and history of making salt in this area of the world. We learned how the primary purpose of Trapani’s saltpans has shifted from production of salt to the preservation of the area’s history and of the birdlife habitats. It seems a worth evolution for a historically important place.

Traditional salt production continues at Riserva Naturale Orientata Saline di Trapani e Paceco.

A preserved windmill sits near the museum.


Riserva Naturale Orientata Saline di Trapani e Paceco

1 Comment »

  1. What a beautiful place! Love your pictures! 🙂

    Comment by thefunnyoneblog — May 16, 2017 @ 9:56 am

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