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Mozia - The Lagoon and the Salt Pans

The Regional Nature Reserve Islands of the Lagoon is a natural reserve of Marsala in Sicily, founded in 1984 in Marsala.

It extends on the west coast of Sicily in the municipality of Marsala, in the sea between Cape San Teodoro and head Boeo or Lilybaeum.
The reserve is named after the "Lagoon" a lagoon, the largest in Sicily, characterized by shallow water (1-2 meters, often no more than 50 cm) between the four islands of San Pantaleo (Mozia), Grand Island, Schola and Santa Maria. The lagoon was formed relatively recently (did not exist at the time of Phoenician colonization of Mozia) following the movement of sand caused by underwater currents that created the Big Island around two original islands. The birth of the island has closed a portion of the sea and open source here, since there are no currents needed to spare, water has become stagnant, with a temperature above the normal.
The main activity of the Lagoon was one of the salt that was exercised by evaporating water channeled into special ponds, then pick up the halls. Pumping water and grinding of salt were carried out by means of windmills, some still preserved.


The islands of the Lagoon

  • The Big Island or Long Island is the largest sandy outcrop from the Lagoon. His training, rather recently, giving rise to the lagoon. Was composed of two rocky islets, which joined to form the long island, probably for the expansion of salt deposits much exploited by the Phoenicians.There are now some salt in a state of abandonment, the forest and some sandy beaches. It houses one of the few existing populations Calendula maritima.
  • Schola is the smallest island of the Lagoon (oval about 80 x 50 m), located between Mozia and the Great Island. During the Roman period there was a school of rhetoric, from which it derives its name. Currently there are three buildings of the '30s and a tank, all in a state of neglect. The island is owned by the town of Marsala.
  • Santa Maria is an island north of the Lagoon-shaped loop. The name is derived from the sanctuary of Santa Maria Valleverde.
  • Mozia (now St. Pantaleo) is the most important islands of the Lagoon from the perspective of landscape and archaeological. Ancient Phoenician colony, has a circular shape.

Points of interest

South entrance to the Lagoon was built for the Royal Air Force an important military seaplane important especially during the Second World War. The airport facilities are easily visible on the stretch of coastal road that leads towards the town of Marsala. Of particular relevance are the large concrete hangars, designed by renowned engineer Pier Luigi Nervi and this fact known as "Hangar Nervi, totally innovative landscape architectural era for the exclusive use of reinforced concrete. The Hangar Nerve is the largest reinforced concrete construction with a single span ever.

Guarding the stretch of sea in front of the airport is a curious blockhouse built in shallow waters of the lagoon, where a sentry was placed under constant supervision of Engineers Pontieri area. The seaplane, still owned by the Air Force but not more active, is involved in several projects that want to exploit the complex, including the destination to international sailing club.

History, costume, curiosity
The Big Island was formerly a stronghold of Hauteville, from which it drew the second name of Isle of Altavilla. It was owned in the last century the wealth of the salt Adragna family, one of the families who made Trapani, thanks to salt, one of the richest food of Mediterranean habitat poles immense salt island was the scene of a film on life in which he participated saline Claudia Cardinale. Last Baron, Jerome Adragna, Salt saw activity decline, and the change of water kill the vineyards from which they obtained valuable for the factories of Marsala wine. Host Jerome Adragna, spent two nights in the ruins of the ancient splendor of the villa and salt which had housed the Palermo aristocracy a writer who, in memory of the nights between the spectra of the past, wrote the most colorful pageant.

The most important natural richness of the Marsala Lagoon is definitely represented dall'avifauna migratory area is where to stop and eat during long journeys or to spend the long winter before returning to Northern Europe. 

Flamingos and spatula: The Pink Flamingo is one of the biggest and showy waders that frequent the Lagoon of Marsala, is seen in large groups with its beak in water, employed to filter the mud in search of small crustaceans and molluscs. Interesting is the presence of the spoonbill, wading bird, white, with flat, rounded beak. 
THE DUCKS: Among the most assiduous Stagnone Marsala are certainly ducks. Among dabbling ducks (they are called "surface" ducks that gather food from the water surface) is easy to see the Wigeon with the head on which stands the tawny face yellow and recognizable for his long and powerful whistle The long-tailed Pintail and Shoveler tip flanks dark brown, bottle green head and a curious spoon-billed. Among the diving ducks (ducks instead immerse themselves completely to search for food on the bottom) to observe the most common is the Pochard with gray body and head reddish brown. The largest and earliest of the Garganey ducks is recognizable by the white stripe on his head while the rarest and the ferruginous duck, duck little rusty with the characteristic white under tail, one of four Italian species most threatened with extinction. Common in the lagoon is Stagnone Shelduck colorful waterfowl nesting area. 
The Limicola: There are also many waders, birds that feed on insects and larvae in the mud are characterized by having beaks specialized for foraging in the mud. Among them one of the best known is the Rider of Italy from the typical black and white plumage with long pink legs.Frequent visitor to the Lagoon area is billed Curlew with its characteristic long curved downward.The beaks are shorter than those of the Little Ringed Plover Kentish Plover and Little Stint.Particular form of the bill is that the Avocet has long, thin and upturned. The waders are often stationed in wetlands in groups consisting of several types and is characteristic of the function the Redshank, alarming all the birds with loud voices that makes up about flying all the animals. 

Herons: Across the lagoon from the Lagoon, you can watch the herons are ambush while properties with neck stretched and ready to shoot sharp beak as a spear to catch fish or parked along the banks of the salt. The biggest and most common is the gray heron gray and white plumage, less frequent Heron smaller and darker plumage reddish. Also frequently encounter with the Little Egret or Great Egret, distinguishable by their different size and color of the beak and legs. More difficult are more discreet encounters with species such as the Night Heron also called "crow at night" because he loves her to turn dark shedding similar to that of a crow.
The Prey: We often see the expanses of the marsh harrier salicornia that patrols the area in search of prey. The female is also acknowledged for the dark brown color and the gorge and the vertex cream. By day attending also reserves the kestrel falcon from small pointed wings and long tail and the Buzzard much bigger. Towards the end of summer can be seen as rare osprey from the head and belly white, rapacious specializes in catching fish.


The vegetation of the reserve is characterized by species adapted to high salinity xerophilous including must remember Suaeda (Suaeda maritima), the Atripla (Atriplex halimus), Salicornia glauca (Arthrocnemum glaucum) and salicornia strobilacea (Halocnemum strobilaceum), the curved logliarella (Parapholis curves), various species of sea lavender (Limonium serotinum, Limonium ferulaceum), grass crystalline (Mesembryanthemum nodiflorum), sea lilies (Pancratium maritimum) and marine ering (Eryngium maritimum).
Also deserve a nod to the Calendula maritima, a rare endemic of this stretch of the coast of western Sicily, and Anemone palmata, a ranunculacea growing on sandy substrate, present in Italy only in western Sicily and Sardinia.