Vendicari Nature Reserve was created in 1984, but did not become
operational until 1989. It consists of a narrow strip of marshy
coastline covering 574ha and provides a rare, and now completely
protected habitat for migratory species and a highly peculiar kind
of sand-loving Mediterranean vegetation. The large stretch of swamp,
a hostile environment in many ways because of high salinity levels,
has evolved a very unusual ecosystem which continues to attract
vast numbers of birds passing through the area on migration.
the autumn months, it is common to see a variety of waders: grey
heron, little egret, white and black stork, greater flamingo. Later
lesser black-backed, slender-billed and audouin's gulls regularly
winter in the area. Between November and March, when the level of
the water rises, the swamps attract many species of wintering duck,
including teal, shoveler, pintail, mallard, tufted duck, pochard
and red-crested pochard. Among the few species to breed here, there
are black-winged stilt (white body, black wings, long red legs)
– adopted as the emblem of Vendicari, as well as Kentish plover,
little tern, reed warbler and little bittern.
reserve is open throughout the year; the best time of day for bird-watching
is the early morning or late afternoon. Needless to say, binoculars
are vital. The track briefly skirts the edge of the Pantano Grande
before leading off towards the so-called Torre Sveva, actually erected
in the 15C by Peter of Aragon, and the chimney that rises from among
the ruins of the tonnara (tuna-fishery)
which functioned until the Second World War. Nearby, set back against
the rocks where the waves break over the shore, sit the vestiges
of a Hellenistic fish-processing plant: the tanks were used to steep
the excess fish before salting them (tarichos) or using the by-products
to make garum or fishpaste by breaking down the fish gut and off-cuts
in sea-water – a highly lucrative commodity that was traded
right across the Mediterranean from Phoenician to Roman times.
regards the flora of the area, Vendicari consists essentially of
rock and sand: the rocky subsoil mainly found in the north of the
reserve, near Pantano Piccolo, supports garrigue-type vegetation
with cushions of thyme and thorny burnet (Sarcopoterium spinosum).
Near Pantano Roveto, on the other hand, where sand predominates,
sand-loving perennials grow among the maquis plants such as prickly
juniper (Juniperus oxycedrus) and rosemary.
extreme southeastern tip of Sicily consists of a headland with a
lighthouse: to sea, it marks the point at which the Ionian Sea meets
the Canale di Sicilia. The local tuna fishery flourished during
the course of this century, and continues to be owned by the Baron
of Belmonte, who, only in 1994, took part in a calata when the fishermen
go out to lay the nets far catching tuna.
complex comprises canning works albeit now unused, where the tuna
was put into tins, a house for the Rais – the quarter-master
responsible for overseeing the mattanza (the killing of the tuna)
and a family residence for the owner himself. A splendid view stretches
across the water to the open horizon: a seascape which changes tirelessly
at the whim of the elements.
natural channel separates the islet of Capo Passero from the mainland;
this can prove to be an especially strategic place to lay nets when
the tuna are running. The islet, meanwhile, has been subject to
a campulsorily purchase so that the colony of dwarf palms growing
there might be protected; this has forced the fish-rearing tanks
that were there to be jettisoned at sea, and has decimated tuna
fishing in the area; as a result, the place is no longer the centre
of activity it used to
di Capo Passero – This comprises the small picturesque
archetypal fishing-village. Naturally, the hub of activity is the
harbour where, between noon and 2pm, the fishing-boats return and
the quays suddenly throng with curious old men and busy housewives
come to purchase the fresh catch straight from the sea.
curious fact about the mattanza
the catch, the fishermen used to signal the number of tuna netted
in the various Chambers: a white flag was flown when there were
ten; a red one meant there were 20; a white one for 30; a red and
white one to signal 40, and so on. If they were unable to estimate
the number of fish, they used to wave a sailor’s jacket on
top of an oar, a gesture known as u' cappottu, which meant “we
can’t count them any more, there are too many".
Porto Palo di Capo Passero
Eremo San Corrado
Laghetti Di Avola
Marina Di Avola
Marina Di Noto
Scivoletto e Michelin Italia. Le foto sono di proprietà
dei rispettivi autori. Ogni riproduzione non autorizzata verrà
perseguita a norma di legge.
- buy on line
Guide of Sicily
italiano | in