The Zingaro Special Nature Reserve - Sicilyincoming

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The first nature reserve to be instituted in Sicily, Zingaro is considered the symbol of the new relationship between the Sicilians and the environment. Today the reserve is one of the best equipped in Sicily, and in addition to initiatives aiming at recovering traditional activities, it contains three museums – nature, maritime activities, country life – as well as an Environmental Education Centre, two picnic areas, some rural buildings you can sleep in, and drinking water at various points along the paths that the managing body has made available.

The Natural Environment

The reserve has a surface area of 1650 hectares and lies between Scopello and San Vito Lo Capo, along a stretch of about seven kilometres of jagged coast interrupted by small pebble bays and inlets, and is closed off by massive calcareous mountains that loom over it. It contains a big variety of environments and landscapes, characterised by no less great a variety of flora and fauna. Indeed, at Zingaro there are over 650 plant species of major naturalistic interest, forty of which are endemic and many rare; a wholly characteristic feature of the vegetation is the dwarf palm garigue, seeing the remarkable density and exuberance that characterises the coastal landscape, where this palm tree, the only spontaneous one in Italy, can reach the exceptional height of 2-3 meters. There is rich fauna: the existence of various ecological niches determines big diversity not found in other places on the island; in particular, here there nest and reproduce more than forty species of birds, including numerous important birds of prey. Separate mention must be made of the sea environment, rich in biodiversity; a major feature is the vermetid platform, endemic to the Mediterranean, only present in environments characterized by a high sea “quality”. It is a bio-construction generated by the concretion of two species of gastropod molluscs, whose shells determine progressive stratiform growth of calcareous platform on the water’s surface.
No less significant is the natural environment and the landscape of “upper Zingaro”, the rock wall that closes off the coastal stretch of the reserve. These are calcarenite formations that give rise to harsh and uneven morphologies, sporadically colonized by ilex and the wild olive tree.

Man and Zingaro

Despite its rugged nature, Zingaro has been frequented by man since the Palaeolithic and therefore preserves the discreet signs left by farmers and shepherds at Borgo Cusenza and at the Tonnarella dell’Uzzo, in a series of constructions that testify centuries of experiences and hard work. The most ancient “Zingaro people” sheltered 10 000 years ago in the Uzzo cave, one of the most important Sicilian archaeological sites, which has yielded human remains in burials, and numerous utensils, now kept at the Regional Archaeological Museum in Palermo; even more ancient the remains of some mammals today extinct in Sicily recovered in the cave.


An environment so strongly marked by biological diversity and by the anthropological datum could not fail to constitute an ideal “laboratory” for different activities. In the sphere of revaluation and maintenance of the traditions of the territory, which is one of the objectives of the reserve management, in the countryside around Borgo Cusenza, in addition to vineyards, orchards, tomato fields, ancient varieties of wheat have been planted and harvested with traditional methods: in month of June visitors can assist at the demonstration of some phases of this millennial rite. “Wefts and warps of the nature” is a seminar (in June-September) on the techniques of plaiting of plant fibres, held at the laboratory of the Plaiting school, which for some years has been present at Zingaro. “Curing your self with herbs” is a first approach to the recognition and use of medicinal plants (in March). Further, among other activities, there are night-time walks (in July and August), excursions along the orchid path (in April), and cave experiences (in April and October).


There are three itineraries most representative of the various aspects of Zingaro. With different durations, circuits and landscapes, they are signposted footpaths; you are advised to go along them equipped with a water flask, which u can refill at various places. There is a series of connections between the different paths, so you can choose the route to suit your own capacities and interests.

The coastal itinerary (about 7km; about 2hours; easy, water refill at Cala del Varo and the Country Life Museum) links the south entrance to the reserve (Scopello) and the north one (San Vito Lo Capo) and goes from the visitor centre to Tonnarella dell’Uzzo. Along it you see splendid little bays, which you can easily get down to. On the way you can visit the Uzzzo Cave and three museums and make use of two picnic areas and visitor centre, where you can get a through knowledge of the peculiarities of the reserve with the help of images and scale model.
A second itinerary (“halfway up the hill”), is slightly more difficult than the previous one (about 8,5km; about 5 hours; water refills) and also goes from one reserve entrance to another, parallel to the first one, between visitor centre and the Uzzo Shelter; among the most interesting places are Baglio Cusenza and the splendid Canalone Mastro Peppe Siino, where there are very luxuriant plants.
The itinerary which is most demanding, but is fantastic in term of landscape and nature, is the “upper Zingaro” one (about 14km; about 8 hours; water refills), which can easily be integrated with the previous ones. It goes along the Zingaro crest from the visitors centre to Macato Puntino. There are remarkable views of the coast and peaks of the crest, it is the kingdom of birds of prey, and its slopes are very important environment because of the presence of numerous endemic species and rare members of the Zingaro flora.
Futher information on the Zingaro paths can be found at the official site


Full price - € 3,00; Reduced price - € 2 (children up to 14 years and call up soldiers); Special price (Groups of students, training course pupils) - € 0,50; Free entrance – EU citizens over 65y., children under 10y. and policemen.


By car: You get to the reserve from Palermo or Trapani by going along the A29 motorway as far as Castellamare del Golfo and then continuing in the direction of Scopello (south entrance) or San Vito Lo Capo (north entrance).

Special Thank you for the text to the "Azienda Regionale Foreste Demaniali"

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