Art & culture

The salt pans of Sicily

The salt pans of Sicily were exploited in antiquity when salt was exported as far as Norway. The long periods of sunshine land made these pans productive..

The salt pans of Sicily were exploited in antiquity

and reached the height of their importance in

the 19th century,

when salt was exported as far as Norway.

The long periods of sunshine (five or six months a year)

and the impermeable nature of the land made these

pans very productive,

although activity has decline in the last 20 years.

At one times,

windmills supplied anergy for the Archimedes screws

used to take water from basin to basin;

yet, some of them have now been restored.

At Nubia,

the Museo delle saline is now open,

and the Stagnone lagoon area will soon became a fully

fledge nature reserve.

The seawater will be protected from pollution,

and the age-old tradition of salt extraction will survive.

The American and dutch windmills

In this area,

the traversa separates the traditional salt pans from the sea,

a causeway made from blocks of tufa from the

island of Favignana.

A sluice-gate regulates the flow of sea-water into the fridda,

the largest and deepest tank in the complex.

Here,

the water deposits the heaviest sediments,

and windmills (of Dutch or American type) pump

it into the vasi,

thanks at a slightly higher level.

One of them,

known as the vaso cultivu,

also collects the liquid from the previous salification process

therefore acting as a sort of “yeast”.

The untreated sea-water (acqua crura) is then conveyed

into the intermediate tanks (called ruffiana and ruffianedda)

and subsequently,

into a series of hot tanks (cĂ uri),

ending in the sintina.

From here,

the acqua fatta (that is with a high level of salinity)

flows into the caseddi,

where the crystallization of the sodium chloride

take place.

Therefore,

after the harvest (from June to September),

the salt is then deposited on the banks (ariuni) of

the salt pans in long piles (munzidduni),

protecting it with the use of terracotta

tiles against the elements.

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