The territory of the province of Trapani is extraordinarily rich in naturalistic beauties that make it a destination for numerous visits by enthusiasts of the subject, as well as by those who simply want to rediscover uncontaminated territories enjoying relaxation in contact with nature and see the habitats of numerous fauna and flora species.
The seaside village of Torretta Granitola, a hamlet of Campobello di Mazara, is located in a beautiful inlet of the jagged coast, characterized by a natural harbor, and today it has become a resort area renowned for its crystal clear sea and the warm waters that attract numerous bathers. Until a few decades ago it was the site of a large tonnara (1875), whose structures were used both for the processing of tuna and as boatshed for special boats and for the preservation of nets, anchors and various tools (malfaraggio). The two towers along the coast were part of the control system of the entire coast dating back to the 16th century, This place has received the recognition of one “sail” from Legambiente for the quality of the tourist services and the territory as well as for the clarity of the bathing areas.
On the other hand, the protected area of Castelvetrano involves the last stretch of the Belice river, with its wet environment rich in marsh vegetation, an important resting and nesting site for many species of birds, and coastal dune formations that represent a natural habitat for few but typical faunal and floristic species. The characteristics of the dunes, like the highly permeable and unstable soil subject to high temperature range between day and night, do not allow the presence of any floristic species present in the hinterland. The dunes make the reserve a natural laboratory that offers the possibility of observing the precise sequence of their formation.
The sandy coastline of the Reserve, an environment that is essentially hostile to stable life, represents a biological frontier of exceptional naturalistic and landscape interest. It is 5 km long and extends between Marinella di Selinunte and Porto Palo di Menfi.
The sandy coast is dotted with the Psammophytes, plants that over time have strengthened physiological mechanisms that allow them to withstand, beyond their dryness, other conditions unfavorable to life such as saltiness, wind, high temperatures, by accumulating water and reducing transpiration. Other plants including the Rastrello, the Calcatreppola, the Wild Carrot, perform a pioneer action by settling on sandy peaks of first formation, the first stage of the “dune”, and helping to shape the relief itself. The dune is linked to the presence of the Sparto pungente, a perennial graminaceous that forms dense spots up to a meter high that help to brake and fix the sand carried by the wind. Next to the Sparto pungente you can also find the sea daffodil and the maritime Euphorbia, which allow the formation of stable dunes, where species that need a consolidated substrate can grow.
The river, approaching the sea, hosts a vegetation dominated by the Cannuccia palustre, a grass that carries a purplish-gray panicle inflorescence. There are also bushes of Giunco pungente and of Tifa, Water Mint, Equisetum, which are part of the plant association typical of environments that for long periods of the year are subject to flooding, as it happens at the mouth of the Belice river.
The protected area is an ideal place for stopping and nesting of many species of birds. The nesting avifauna is made up of the Fratino, a small bird that nests on sandy shores, the Moorhen, the Beccamoschino that nest where marsh vegetation is present. The area is also crossed by a good migratory flow of Anatidae, Herons, and other wading birds that winter along the river mouth.
The Reserve is populated by a series of invertebrates, numerous dunic insects and some Sicilian endemic species of beetles that find in this area one of the last shelters, such as the Branchitripe Capogrosso that has nocturnal habits and emits a verse similar to that of crickets.
The beach is frequented by the Loggerhead Sea Turtle, the only sea turtle that lays eggs on our coasts. The vocation of the Reserve’s beach to the laying of the Loggerhead Sea Turtle is one of the most valuable elements of this biotope, which must be adequately respected by limiting as much as possible the disturbing factors caused by anthropic pressure.
Inserted in 1991 among the protected natural areas of the Regional Plan of Parks and Reserves and entrusted in management to the Italian Association for the WWF, the reserve of Lago Preola and Gorghi Tondi is known for the peculiarity of its karstic lakes and for the vegetation of great naturalistic value. The constraint of the Natural Reserve concerns a strip of territory that from Mazara heads towards Torretta Granitola, almost in parallel with the coast, about 2 km away from the sea. The oasis, classified among the coastal wetlands, includes four natural karst basins: Lake Preola, Gorgo Alto, Gorgo Medio and Gorgo Basso. Nearby are the so-called Catafossi, depressions originating from the sinking of the limestone.
The marshy vegetation stretches almost weld with the luxuriant Mediterranean scrub that climbs up and covers the calcarenitic ridges that fall almost overhanging, in contiguity with the shores of the lakes, and that, in spring, dress in the colours of the multiple blooms of lawn (wild orchids, anemones, asphodels, daisies, dandelion and the beautiful Scabiosa atropurpurea).
The edges of the woods of Quercus ilex and Quercus colliprinus are also of great landscape importance.
During the spring period you can admire little bitterns and splendid red herons, as well as, on the water surface, marsh turtles, a species protected at community level.
Lake Preola, unlike the whirpools, develops in length and, if aided by the winter and spring rains, it appears full until mid-June of a layer of about thirty centimeters of brackish water, becoming an ideal pond to give refreshment to herons , common stilts, spoonbills, egrets and flocks of cranes heading towards central Europe.