The road that run along the coast from Trapani to Marsala is also known as the “via del sale”, here, Sicily offers one of its extraordinary shows : the natural reserve of the salt flats of Trapani and Paceco. The area seems to be a huge, irregular and multicoloured chessboard of pools, used to collect the salt and divided one from the other by a thin stripe of land. This coast of Sicily is also famous for the wonderful sunsets, and here as well as in Erice you would better manage to come late in the afternoon: it’s by sunset in fact that nature provides its show. Suddenly the environment will rapidly change colours and atmospheres, turning from light pastel colours into violent orange and red to the dark blue of the night. The windmills stand out among the pools, each one with a different colour, depending by the stage of evaporation of the waters and by the presence of various minerals the salt may contain. In the past they were the only way to pump water inside the pools and to grind the salt.
The windmills are considered among the most beautiful in Europe they reflect in the still waters creating kaleidoscopic images. The rugged landscape offers a shelter to many rare and protected species of migratory birds such as the White Heron, the Flamingo and the Kingfisher : the area in fact has been declared protected reserve by the WWF. Since when the Phoenicians first arrived thanks to the particular climatic conditions the area was chosen to extract salt: the shallow waters and their high salinity level, the wind which is always blowing and the relentless sun contribute to create the ideal condition for the evaporation of water. For the same reasons the area is known as one of the best kite surfing spots in Sicily.
Nowadays the salt is no longer extracted using the energy of the windmills because the procedure is completely mechanized, but the region is still one among the most important in Europe concerning this kind of production.The most beautiful and spectacular salt flats are perhaps those around the Stagnone, a few kilometers south of the international airport of Trapani-Birgi Vincenzo Florio. The Stagnone is the largest lagoon of the whole island, almost a closed sea that goes from Punta Alga to Capo S. Teodoro towards Marsala. To enjoy the show you have to drive along a road denominated SP21 from Trapani to Marsala. Once you have visited the salt flats you can stay for a drink sitting in a very nice bar situated right on the waters, not far from the museum of the salt waiting for the night to come.