The nature reserve of Capo Feto and its surroundings
Capo Feto nature reserve, the kitesurfing paradiseAround Trapani’s most southern area, to the west of Mazara del Vallo, lies one of the few remaining salt-marsh areas in Sicily. This place figures among the list of places designated by the European Community as Special Protection Areas. The Protected Area of Capo Feto is an area of 453 hectares of sand dunes and small stretches of water. Separated from the sea by a strip of sandy beach, the area is mostly submerged by the sea in wintertime while becoming dry during summertime. Capo Feto is an area which is particularly rich in rare species of oceanic Posidonia, a Mediterranean tapeweed that has evolved through adapting itself first in a terrestrial and secondly in a marine environment. Because of a curious combination of currents, this plant has found its habitat all along the coast. Indeed during wintertime its dried out leaves come off its stalk and clump together along the shore. Hence they form well-known clusters that can reach huge sizes, as the natural barrier formed in Capo Feto, which ended up by enclosing an area of shallow coastal sea thus forming a sort of small lagoon. This region is characterised by vast humid areas with mostly brackish waters. This distinctive feature makes this the ideal habitat for various species of birds that use this area as a resting place during their migration though the Sicily Canal to Africa and viceversa. This area is also popular with other species of birds that stay in the region during winter. As for the flora around here the most common plant is the Salicornia (also known as glasswort or pickleweed), a species that is able to tolerate the elevated salinity of the soil in this area. Growing on sand dune areas overlooking the sea are instead plants such as Ammophila littoralis, sea rocket, Alecost herb, sea fennel (or Peter’s Cress), sea daffodil and sea lavender cotton plant (santolina). It is also not unusual to find peculiar brownish seaballs (egagropili or Posidonia spheroids) along the shore, a consequence of the sea actions over (and progressive disintegration of) the residual oceanic Posidonia leaves. From 1999 to 2002 the marshes of Capo Feto have been included in the European Community “Life Programme” for the re-introduction of exinct animal species in the area. In 2006, a series of underwater archaeological excavations were carried out in the region which brought into light a few vessels, probably dating back to the IV/III century BC. The uncontaminated beach of the Capo Feto Nature Reserve has a sandy seabed and a unique and evocative Old Lighthouse along the foreshore.
Between the port of Mazara del Vallo and the Capo Feto Reserve is the Fata Morgana promenade which borders a long beach of fine grey-white sand (approx. 4 kilometres) with several lidos.