Recently founded, the Riserva Naturale delle Isole dello Stagnone, located within the municipality of Marsala, dates back to 1984. Located along the west coast of Sicily, this natural reserve includes the islands of San Pantaleo, Isola Grande, Isola Schola and Isola Santa Maria. Apart from these islands, the Riserva Naturale delle Isole dello Stagnone also includes the salt flats of San Teodoro, Genna and Ettore Infersa.
The whole natural reserve spans over an area of 2012 hectares, whose landscape is mainly a lagoon; local vegetation offers a typically Mediterranean vision of the territory, whose mix includes some xerophilous species which have been capable of adapting to the high degree of salinity of the area over the years: among them worth noting the Suaeda and many varieties of Limonio, with their great scent. Also, a particular species of ranunculcacea can be found here, and it can be found only in Sicily and Sardinia. There’s also a deeply diverse wildlife, with a considerable amount of very interesting bird species. In detail, anyone who comes to the Riserva Naturale delle Isole dello Stagnone during the migration period will have the chance to admire several examples of egrets, wild ducks and glossy ibis; much more common are the nesting birds, like the goldfinch, the crested bird and the serin.
One of the elements that make the Riserva Naturale delle Isole dello Stagnone so unique is the presence of the salt flats. The tanks used for the cultivation of salt dates back to very remote era, precisely to the age of Phoenician domination; the fifties have been one of the most prosperous periods for this kind of activity, because there were 9 working salt flats: currently the natural reserve hosts only 4 working salt flats, which spans over an area of 205 hectares. This significant reduction was due to the high costs of mining salt, and to the maintenance costs of the salt flats.
The amazing the natural landscape of the the Riserva Naturale delle Isole dello Stagnone was made possble by some human interventions that have improved some existing facilities, integrating them with new elements. To clarify the concept, many upgrades were made in order to improve the mills of the the salt flats, as well as the construction of a small museum dedicated to Joseph Whitaker, who conducted some important archaeological excavations in the area at the beginning of the twentieth century. The same museum also contains some Greek sculptures that certainly will not make the art lovers remain indifferent. Other activities that may be conducted within the Riserva Naturale delle Isole dello Stagnone, but it’s very important to point out that local regulation imposes strict bans on hunting, underwater fishing and net fishing; however, sport fishing is permitted, even though it remains subject to very specific rules.