Marsala: land of salt pans and emotional sunsets.

Western Sicily is famous for the rarest landscapes that can exist in the entire territory. The beauty and uniqueness of its environment is suitable for those who love being in nature and for having primitive and intoxicating sensations.

SicilianMagpie will take you to Marsala to discover the history of its salt pans.

The “stagnone” of Marsala

A few kilometers away from the inhabited center of Marsala, the land that produces one of the most well-known liqueurs in Italy, there is a nature reserve incorporated between the four islands of Mozia, Isola Grande, Schola and Santa Maria. Inside, the sea draws a large pond or “stagnone” characterized by shallow waters and temperatures above normal.

The territory, which based its economy on fishing and trade, since ancient times, was exploited for the production of salt. Just in the fifteenth century, the Spaniards, present in the region, had mills built for pumping water and grinding salt.

Even today, large salt producers, such as the Sosalt company, operate in the area making it unique in the sector.

The big pond of Marsala, however, stands out for its amazing landscape, at times ethereal. A pleasant walk at sunset can turn into a real sensorial experience. The colors are the main elements that inebriate the visitor’s gaze: the bright white of the heaps of salt mixes with the red of the waters that reflect the rays of the sun that is leaving for the evening.

In honor of Expo2015, the salt marshes of Marsala were declared the most beautiful landscape in Italy. The uniqueness of its nature, therefore, makes this territory a fundamental stop for those interested in the primordial beauty of Sicily.

Martina Spampinato

The “Great Cretto”: Burri’s work in Gibellina

Gibellina is a small town next to Trapani, its city center is located in a limeted area called “New Gibellina” that was born after the belice earthquake that destroyed all the town in 1968. In the “Old” zone, uninhabited, we can find one of the most big land art work in the world: the “Great Cretto” or “Cretto of Gibellina” made by the contemporary artist Alberto Burri.

But, before telling this amazing story of environmental recovery, it’s important to make some concepts clear: what is a “Cretto”?

Burri approches this artistic trend in the 70s with the intention of showing how the artist’s hand is an accessory in comparison to fatalism and process of time that irremediably changes the work, making it unique. In fact, he mixes products such as cellotex, glue, white and colored powders and let time do the rest.

The mixtures, then, will take particular forms, simulating the arid and uncultivated lands. Art becomes a natural process, a projection of what happens every day and that the distracted eye of man doesn’t see.

Gibellina promotes this message of awareness: the rubble compacted and reused in the “Big Cretto” are the metaphor of a shattered nature, destroyed and remained dry but which, however, can become a symbol of rebirth.

The gigantic monument in honor of the “Old Gibellina” is promoted by the mayor Ludovico Corrao with the intention of seeking a post-earthquake redemption that could restore luster and beauty to the territory. Burri went to Sicily on his own, he finances the trip and the project.

Work began in 1984 and lasted until 1989 (although it’s estimated that some completion works ended in 2015 in honor of the centenary of Burri’s birth).

Currently the work appears as a series of fractures on a cemented ground, symbol of the freezing of historical memory and, in particular, of the sad events of the belice earthquake.

The surface of over 80000 square meters includes a lot of cracks between two and three meters wide and the blocks are about one meter sixty high.

The artistic path can be reached along the Strada Statale 119 of Gibellina in the section that intersects the Grotta of Santa Ninfa integral nature reserve, or coming from the Austostrada A29 towards Mazara del Vallo.

In an old church, undamaged by the earthquake, in 2019, the municipal administration, led by Giovanni Sutera, promoted, with the help of the councilor for culture Tanino Bonifacio, the birth of the “Museum of the Great Gretto” in which recall the events and the history of the most big land art work in the world.

This story is very important for the sicilian memory, because it’s a land that has been destroyed a lot of times, but which has always been reborn to its full splendor.

The Cretto, in fact, stands as a symbol of rebirth and, repeating councilor Bonifacio’s words, “it is a place of narration and knowledge where there was life, today there is preservation of memory: first it was the tabernacle of death, today shrine that generates life “.

Martina Spampinato

Erice

This place is rich in history and traditions. Its origins date back to prehistory, when sa Greek mythology says, the Trojans fleet the destruction of their city, landed in Sicily and founded the city of Erice, giving life to the population called Elimi. The Greek mythological tradition still mentions this place on one of the Ulysses journey and earlier in one of the Hercules myths. For a long time it was one of the few Carthage outpost in Sicily and today is one of the recommended destinations for all tourist who visit the island.

Zingaro Natural Reserve

It is a wonderful natural area located along the coast in the municipality of Castellammare del Golfo in Trapani province. The peculiarity of this place is that it is one of the few parts of the Sicilian coast completely free of human influence. Because of this, the Zingaro Natural Reserve is one of the places to be visited by natural lovers who are on holidays in Sicily.