The Saltpans of Trapani

Among the most striking views in Sicily are the glittering saltpans between Trapani and Marsala.

Saltpans of Trapani

Dating way, way back to the time of the Phoenicians (who were sailing the Mediterranean from 1200BC), the saltpans on the western coast of Sicily are still active today, desalinating vast quantities of sea water and shipping the recovered salt across the whole of Europe. It’s at its most attractive during the summer, when the sea water has all but evaporated, revealing huge piles of pink-tinged salt glinting in the bright sunlight. The area is renowned for its windmill-dotted landscape – the mills used to
grind the salt, after hours of back-breaking work collecting it, though today the manual labour – and, indeed, the mills – are being replaced with a mechanical means of recovery and processing.

If you’re planning a trip to Sicily, the saltpans of Trapani are well worth a visit, and there are numerous areas of specific interest along the 29-kilometre route between the towns of Trapani and Marsala (along the SP 21 coastal road), such as Museo del Sale (a museum based in a 300-year-old house previously inhabited by a saltworker), and Nubia, the HQ for the Worldwide Fund for Nature. There’s also a saltwater bird habitat, where you can observe more than 170 species.