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.
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.
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)
into a series of hot tanks (càuri),
ending in the sintina.
the acqua fatta (that is with a high level of salinity)
flows into the caseddi,
where the crystallization of the sodium chloride
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.