In Italy, the coastlines not contaminated with a coastal road are very uncommon. The Riserva Naturale Orientata dello Zingaro, located in Sicily in Castellammare del Golfo, is definitely one of this. This characteristic can be easily explicated knowing the reserve’s history: in fact, the seventies and eighties have been marked by the mobilization of some no-profit organizations that have fought to ensure that works for the construction of the road were suspended and the funding revoked. With its 1650 hectares, this reserve is mainly composed of limestone rocks and mountain reliefs dating back to the Mesozoic era: all together, the elements that make the area create a barren and rugged landscape.
The flora which characterizes the territory of the Riserva Naturale Orientata dello Zingaro sees a mixture of very different environments. The entire area, deeply subject to changes made by man, is mainly made of grasslands, assembled between rushes and sedges, one of the main food sources of the local fauna; the grasslands is flanked by Mediterranean plants, and by some cultivated areas; the fauna of the Riserva Naturale Orientata dello Zingaro is rich, but many of the species seem to be gradually declining. The rocky environment, no matter how impervious it is, is the ideal retreat for most of these animals. The birds are the most frequent visitors of the entire region: among these are very common the Bonelli’s eagle, the peregrine falcons, the buzzards and even the owl; there are also many species of small mammals, like weasels, foxes, hedgehogs and occasionally porcupines.
What distinguishes the Riserva Naturale Orientata dello Zingaro is the presence of several huts along the path that runs next to the coastline: such structures, between October and May, are free to use for people who wish to camp overnight inside the reserve. To use this service, just contact the management. Many activities are organized by the Centre for Environmental Education and Interpretation “Terra Magica”, which promotes interesting and rather unique initiatives, such as the discovery of new paths created by nature.
The entry point of the Riserva Naturale Orientata dello Zingaro is its Visitor Center: here, a wide range of products made using the local flora can be tasted and bought. The materials used for this purpose are part of one of the most important traditions of the area, because since ancient times they were the main currency unit.