... protected natural areas,
perfect for bird watching …
The beautiful territory of the Val di Mazara wine and food route which goes down from the Salemi Hills to the sea, is rich of impressive landscapes: natural lakes, stretches of water and brackish hollows alternating with the Mediterranean scrub and the typical sciare of Mazara. All these places are now recognized as protected natural areas, ideal places for resting and wintering of numerous species of seabirds and migratory birds, perfect for bird watching, especially from April to June and from September to October.
This tour can surely start from the border between the towns of Mazara and Petrosino where the land is particularly humid. The “Margi Spano” on the border with Marsala, the “Margi Nespolilla” behind the beautiful beach of “Torrazza”, and “Margi Milo” that extending to the coast, are the largest and most interesting wetlands of the area. Moving from Petrosino to Mazara you come across the large brackish hollow of Capofeto, an oasis separated from the sea by a sandy cord that is totally submerged in winter and dried during the summer. In its stretch of water surrounded by a thick and large marsh vegetation, which includes some rare and significant plants such as Limonium ramosisimum siculum, large flocks of migratory birds such as terns, stop in spring and autumn; it is also significant the presence of sedentary species.
Reached Mazara, the nature tour proceeds toward north of the town along the banks of the River Mazzaro. The area called Miragghianu , from the Arabic Emir-Guyanese, which means “Garden of the Emir,”for the beauty of the vegetation and crops, is the next spot of the tour. A natural and artificial environments where the Mediterranean scrub alternates with the ancient quarries tuff, and the numerous natural caves are a counterpoint to the old water mills. On the right bank of the river there is the Hypogeum of St. Bartolomeo or Beati Paoli, with the ruins of a catacomb, a chapel and traces of anthropomorphic paints on the walls.
Before Torretta-Granitola, a small road will let you discover a series of small lakes covering an area of 335 hectares: Lake Murana, unfortunately dry for some time, Preola Lake, the largest, and three circular shaped stretches of water, the Gorghi Tondi(High, Medium and Low). Located in a large valley surrounded by low hills, these small stretches of water are set in a miraculously intact and luxurious oasis, in a general context of harsh and arid lands. Surrounded by dense marsh vegetation typical of the Mediterranean coastal ponds, slightly salty, on the southern side they are overshadowed by calcareous slopes partially covered by Mediterranean scrub.
The area is in fact a karstic depression where the rain and the weather have eroded the chalky soil to form these natural lakes. The importance of this magnificent natural environment is twofold: on one hand the presence of a dense and rich Mediterranean vegetation, on the other hand the extraordinary abundance of sedentary and migratory ornithology attracted by the nearly desert surroundings of this authentic oasis.
To the north of Preola Lake, in the territory of Campobello di Mazara, there is the Lion quagmire, an artificial quagmire of rainwater and wastewater, where dwells a lot of the local bird population eating lithophagous. The quagmire still remains the only site in Italy and one of the few in Europe where the Marmaronetta angustirostris (marbled duck), currently considered vulnerable worldwide, dreeds regularly.
Another important sites in the territory of Campobello are the fishing village of Torretta Granitola, a characteristic little natural harbour, and, proceeding along the coast, the seaside resort of Tre Fontane, with its beautiful beaches and the crystal clear sea. The entire resort is made up of a ten miles long golden beach. In this wonderful scenario during the summer spontaneously grows the lily S. Pancrazio, spreading its intense scent and together with the dunes covered by a fat vegetation locally called Barba di Monaco, make this resort a charming place
In the inland of Mazara, it is possible to notice wide and arid stony expanses, sloping from the northwest to southeast, the so-called sciare of Mazara. The sciare are very similar to the Serir, the stony desert of North Africa. It also hosts Ocellated Skinks and Lizards, two endemic reptiles of Sicily, a few beetles and birds such as the typical warbler, the whitethroat, the Sub alpine Warbler. These rugged and hard coasts, carved and polished by the Bura, by the sirocco and the vIolent waves of the African sea, opulent of all shades of blue and green, are the most beautiful part this island has to offer.
Passing the Sciare area, going toward the western part of Sicily, we are in the Valle del Belice. The area is characterized by a landscape that offers a wide variety of the manifestation of nature: the gentle green hills punctuated by rugged mountains, broad valleys rich of streams and woods: the anthropic lush forests, the reforestation of eucalyptus and conifers and the natural ones mainly consisting of oak, cork, ash, carob, wild olive, strawberry trees, brooms, pear trees, covering almost totally the land.
We get to Salemi, a town situated on a hill that rises at the center of pleasant valleys and, not so far from it, we find Vita, the final leg of this naturalistic tour, a small urban centre, where it is located the Bosco del Monte Baronia, less than two kilometres from the town. The forest offers stunning panoramic views, traces of ancient “niviere”. Inside the niviere, concave-shaped construction with an inverted cone shape, the snow was piled up which, if properly insulated with layers of straw and earth, withstood several months, this was an unusual and particular type of trade that took place a long time ago in the province. The forest of Mount Barony, extended approximately 670,000 square feet, is a real green lung.
Very well equipped, it allows ecological excursions, especially in summer and pleasant walks sourranded by nature.