Riserva naturale orientata dello
|The 1.620 hectares of "Lo Zingaro" extend
in one of the most evocative landscapes of Sicily,
in a piece of land which, advancing in the south Tyrrhenian
sea, closes on the west side the Gulf of Castellammare.
It is the first natural reserve instituted in Sicily
(6 May 1981), it is more than seven kilometers long
and spreads along the coast. It is situated in one
of the few still integral places in all the Island.
|It includes mountains which rise from
the sea, covered by paths which lead the visitor to
the discover of landscapes of incomparable beauty,
in which the particular light makes the vegetation's
and rocks' colors brighter, in opposition to the various
bleu-sea tones of the coast. Inaccessible precipices
on which "Pistacia Lentisca" and heathers,
brooms and "Euphorbia", Oleasters (Olea
Oleaster) and "Terebinti", survivors of
that Mediterranean bush that once covered all the
territory, give shelter to Hawks, Buzzards, Kestrels,
Swifts and Imperials Crows.
In the reserve there are more than 800 species of
plants of great naturalistic and landscape interest.
Among them the "Limonio Flagellare" (typical
of the north west coast of Sicily) and the "Sea
fennel", which take root among the cliffs near
the sea, the "Dianthus", the "Bluebottle
of Sicily", the "Snapdargon" and the
"Rocky starlet", which give color to higher
On the less accessible cliffs do live the most important
species: a very particular flora, represented by a
limited number of plants, which is still integral
for the inaccessibility of the places in which it
grows: the "Erba Perla", the "Vilucchio
Turco", the "Perlina di Boccone" and
the rare "Limonio di Todaro". But the most
widespread plant is the "dwarf palm", which
reaches here remarkable dimensions: in addition to
"Ampelodesma" (the "DISA"), in
some zones it is so thick that the landscape has got
the typical aspect of the praierie. It is the "Gariga",
an area, which is the result of the millenarian man's
action, originally populated by thick mediterranean
bush. Numerous are the "Orchidee Terricole"
that together with "Iris", "Zafferani",
"Poppies" and "Ranuncoli" give
color to the various zones of the reserve in spring.
An isolated aspect are the valley depressions of Monte
Acci (the zone of "gorghi tondi", where
the vegetation, mostly composed by rushes and sedges,
creates an ideal atmosphere for the "Discoglosso"
- a small amphibian which is typical of Sicily and
it's similar to the frog - and the "river crab").
|Interesting are the northern slopes
of "Monte Passo di Lupo", where there is
a wall covered by a plurisecular plant of "Ivy"
and some fragments of an ilex and a cork-tree forest,
survivor of a wood, which was anciently extended on
an immense area of the High "Zingaro". In
the reserve, more than 40 species of birds nidificate,
others hibernate or stop for a while during the migrations.
Here the most present bird is "the Bonelli Eagle"
(one of rarest italian bird of prey), whose presence
has been one of the main reasons for the institution
of the reserve. It is regularly reproduced nidificating
on the high walls of the high zones.
Another inhabitant of "Lo Zingaro" is the
"Greek Partridge of Sicily" - an endemic
species nearly extinguished in the province of Trapani
- which from the reserve has begun to repopulate the
neighbouring areas. There can also be met the "Wren",
the "Occhiocotto", the "Sparrow Hermit",
the "Nightingale", the "Bunting"
and the "Stonechat". Frequent is also the
"Porcupine" whose presence is testified
by the pricks that can be found along the less attended
Other representatives of the reserve's fauna are the
Fox, the Weasel and the Owl (night bird of prey, typical
of the forests that has perfectly adapted to this
area), the Wild Rabbit, and some reptiles such as
the Viper, the "Saettone", the "Biacco"
and the Sicialian Lizard. The predators' presence
carries out a balancing function keeping under control
the increment of the species that live in the reserve,
especially of the rabbit and the snakes. The undersea
landscape is a continue sequence of colors and shapes.
In the rocky walls covered by algae, anemones and
madrepores, small fish having the most colorful liveries
of the undercoast swim. Deep, where the sponges are
more frequent, it is possible to find some isolated
red coral colonies, while clouds of shrimps similar
to crystal splinters hover in the numerous submarine
|The human presence has always been
something constant in "Lo Zingaro". Here,
man has always lived becoming integrated in the natural
atmosphere. Hunter and binder at the beginning, he
has developed, during the millenia, an agricultural
activity in harmony with the atmosphere, testified
by the presence of isolated settlements and of structures
linked to economic activities. Endemic plants as the
"DISA" (Ampelodesma tenax) and the "dwarf
palm" (Chamaerops humilis) called "scupazzu",
have been used until few decades ago, to make brooms,
ropes and hampers, while the Almond tree, the Carob-tree,
the Olive-tree, the Vines, the Ash-tree (extracted
through transversal cuts on the bark and sold all
over the island as sweetener and for its light laxative
effect) and the Sumach [Rhus coriaria] (from which
the tannin for the skins' tannery is obtained) have
been introduced in various periods.
The first human settlements go back to the Superior
Palaeolithic (60.000- 15.000 b.C.) when small groups
of hunters-binders had founded here a place which
was rich of game and plants, and settled down in the
many coves, which formed thausends of years before
for the erosion of the sea when, during the several
phases of the glaciations, the sea level was higher.
These coves had already been shelter for the big mammals
that inhabited Sicily, at that time: Elephants and
Rhinoceroses, but also Lions, Deers, wild Oxes and
Boars. Between them the big Cove of "Lo Zingaro",
inhabited until few decades ago by shepherds who used
it as ovile during the transhumance periods. During
the prehistoric era, it was probably a cult place
where magic or religious rites were carried out and
where, along the inner edges, the dead men were buried.
In its inside one of the most important funeral structures
in Europe belonging to the Mesolithic period (12.000-8.000
b.C.) has been found. Moreover, fragments of ceramics
of various type going back to the neolithic age (5.000-4.000
b.C.) have been found. During this period, agriculture
borns and the sheep-farming activity starts to be
practised. Other finds belong to the age of bronze
(2000 b.C.), to the VI century a.C. and to the Roman-byzantine
The presence of the houses and other buildings are
the symbol of the human evolution: "Borgo Cusenza",
a group of rural houses near "Monte Passo del
Lupo", and some scattered structures which are
in C/da Sughero and C/da Zingaro, were inhabited until
some decades ago and were used for agricultural works
and jobs regarding the sheep-farming field; the Tower
of Uzzo, along the coast of the area having the same
name, built in the XVI century with military functions,
to which later on small structures of agricultural
use have been added; the Tonnarella of Uzzo, which
worked until last century having a function of support
to the more important tunny-fishing structure of Scopello.