Route of Places of Memory: Salt Pans, Tuna Fishing Centres, Towers and Sea Mines

Salt Pans,  tuna fishing centers and coastal towers in Sicily and in the Mediterranean have always been essential references to understand the close relationship between man and the sea and the suggested route leads to the discovery of some of these beautiful memorial sites scattered throughout the region. Wherever you go along the Sicilian coasts you will meet  one of these silent witnesses of the relationship between Sicily and the sea, marvelous monuments , which have had  little attention and are not very visible because they are part of the Sicilian atmosphere. We have selected some among the 119 sighting towers, among more than eighty tuna fishing centres  and the ancient salt pans, they are all  treasures to be discovered. Everywhere  breathtaking landscapes.

1) PALERMO –The Tower of Rotolo
The Tower of Friar John or  tower of Ruotolo is located on the  Rotolo top, between the Addaura and Virgin Mary, on the seafront Christopher  Columbus, in the place of Virgin Mary, a fishing village of Palermo. Built on  the behest of the Royal Court during the first decades of the 15th century, it is one of the coastal watchtowers  of ‘ short range ‘ together with the Tower of Capo Zafferano, the prickly pear  Tower, the Tower of Priola, the Tower of the tuna fishing centre of the Virgin Mary and the Tower of the tuna fishing centre  of Mondello.

2) FAVIGNANA – Former Florio plant
ex-stabilimento-florio-654x420A visit to the former Florio plant  is essential for those who want to experience a journey into the glorious past of the tuna fishing centre  and  what it  represented for the development of the island of Favignana and Sicily. The former Florio plant  is a real  jewel of industrial archaeology , here are safeguarded  the equipment, anchors and boats of slaughter  inside a place  had become  one of the most flourishing canning tuna processing industries. They also tell the story of a great Sicilian family.

(www.regione.sicilia.it/bbccaa/soprintp/)

3) MARSALA – The salt pans  of the lagoon img_8128-630x420
The salt pans of the lagoon stretch in the area of the natural reserve of the Stagnone Islands, they create one of the most original and fascinating landscapes  of Sicily, a unique area facing the island of Mothia. From Trapani to Mozia it is a succession of tanks,  example of an interaction between man and nature. The density of the salt in the water changes the colours  of the reflections and at sunset is becomes an exultation of  colours , worthy of the best photographers in the world.

4) VALDERICE – Tonnara di Bonagia  ( Tuna fishing centre)
The Tonnara of  Bonagia overlooks a tiny marina that formerly was used as  shelter for fishing boats. Integrated into the buildings of the tonnara,  there is a watchtower, among  one of the most beautiful in Sicily. It is a square building which now houses the Museum of the Tonnara,  where there are kept, together with archaeological finds found in the sea, work equipments and a model depicting a trap with nets used to catch tuna and the chamber of death.

(www.turismo.trapani.it)

5) PORTO EMPEDOCLE – Tower of Charles V
The Tower of Charles V was built in 1554 to defend the most important magazine on the island. The Tower has  been used for a long time as a prison: in 1848 it was the scene of the massacre of 114 unarmed prisoners , reported and let be known by the famous writer from Empedocle,  Andrea Camilleri in his  work“ The forgotten massacre”. Today it is used as a cultural centre. Porto Empedocle also gave birth to Luigi Pirandello, at those times,  the actual city was a neighbourhood of Agrigento. Therefore there is  the opportunity to join the Writer’s Road which  leads  to Santa Margherita Belice, town of the Leopard  (Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa) and to Racalmuto, the town of  Leonardo Sciascia. But from the terrace of the Tower of Charles V,  in Porto Empedocles,  it is possible to see far ahead.

(www.comune.portoempedocle.ag.it)

6) The town PUNTA SECCA –  Scalambri Tower
The Scalambri Tower  is a coastal defense tower and it is located in the town of Punta Secca, in the province of Ragusa. It consists of  three floors, and once it was part of the defensive system of sighting of Turkish, Saracens and barbarian ships and it was a visual link with other neighbouring towers: to the West, with the Tower di Mezzo of  Santa Croce Camerina and with the Tower Vigliena of Punta Braccetto; to the East with the  Cabrera  Tower in  Marina di Ragusa. It is not much different from the other towers displaced along the Sicilian coast, but it became the subject of visits thanks to the fiction of the Commissar Montalbano, becoming for a lot of people  the Tower of Montalbano’s house.

7) MARZAMEMI- The tuna fishing centre of Marzamemi
The Tonnara of Marzamemi, built in the 16th century, is one of the oldest and most important tuna fishing centres  in eastern Sicily. The current village consists of the Prince’s Palace, the camperia (the scieri Lodge), the Church of San Francesco di Paola,  the old tuna factory and of about fifty fishermen’s houses, all gathered around the large piazza Regina Margherita. A film location, it is located in a truly exceptional and fascinating area. Here time stood  still.  The landscape is unique.

(www.tonnaradimarzamemi.it)

 8) NOTO – Tuna fishing centre and  Swabian Tower of Vendicari
torre-sveva-vendicari-300x225In the natural environment of the Vendicari reserve it is possible to  admire the remains of great charm of the ancient tonnara and the Swabian Tower, built by Pietro d’Aragona, close to the beach. But Vendicari is one of the sites of excellence in Sicily,  both from the naturalistic point of view and from the landscape and cultural ones.

(www.riserva-vendicari.it)

9) ACIREALE –the Sentry  shelter of Saint Tecla
The first historical records of the village of Saint  Tecla date back to the 13th century. From the sixteenth century,  due to a few raids of Turkish Corsairs , it was built a  guardroom with  a square plan and a  pyramid covering topped by a ball made of basalt and four battlements at the corners, that still can be admired in all its charm. This location was chosen as a symbol of a wonderful coastline, a unique path between land and sea. A place to be discovered and appreciated.

(www.comune.acireale.ct.it)

torre-acireale-562x420
Photo: Rosario Vicino

10) MILAZZO –Museum of the tonnara and the sea
Located in Caio Duilio square, the Museum represents a valuable record of the past of Milazzo,  enriched by  the profiles of ‘the  tuna fishermen ‘, who  in the recent decades have taken part in the ritual of slaughter, and by the fine and elegant cans of tuna, which date back to the Fascist period. Milazzo is also an access  to the Aeolian Islands, an invitation to visit this Tyrrhenian area with thousand resources.

(www.comune.milazzo.me.it)