Fun, sun and... salt!
A journey to the Riviera Romagnola and the salt marsh of Cervia
Although seemingly worlds away from the Riviera Romagnola and the hoards of happy holiday makers lazing beneath the brightly colored beach umbrellas springing up like mushrooms out of the sand, Cervia's salt marsh is, in fact, only just around the corner from some of the region's most popular seaside resorts.
It Is here, surrounded by a shimmering landscape, colored with multiple shades of white, that visitors can explore a unique ecosystem and learn about the fascinating history of Italy's 'white gold'.
Wet and wild
Covering 827 hectares of wetland, traversed by 46 kilometers of canals, lying just 600 meters from the sea, Cervia's salt flats are of great environmental importance. The salt marsh is part of the Regional Park of the Po Delta and, since 1979 has been a State Nature Reserve.
The marsh is home to an incredible variety of animal, bird, and plant species, despite a concentration of salt superior to 150% in water only a few centimeters deep.
Birds and boats
The various nature trails' across the salt marsh allow visitors to observe, close up, the bird life: avocets, flamingos, shelducks, stilt plovers, and numerous other species which come to rest or nest in this protected oasis.
In June and July great flocks of flamingoes come to feed on the salt marsh: join the "Flamingo special" boat tour to see the birds close up
From mid May to late September the visitors center organizes birdwatching excursions guided by an expert ornithologist, and evening boat trips, in the company of an astrophysician, to observe the star-specked night skies.
Raking it in
During the summer months, visitors who would like to see how the Cervia sea salt is produced, can join one of the specially organized boat trips and watch workers at the Camillone salt flat raking the deposits of salt crystals into mounds and then spreading them out in the sun to dry. Here salt is harvested twice a week during the months of June through September.
Of the 149 salt flats once present in the area (unified in 1959 with the advent of industrial salt refineries), Camillone is the only remaining seasonal salt flat, recognized by SlowFood for the extraordinary quality of the moist and flavorful salt produced
By bike or on foot
Among the itineraries organized by the Cervia Salt Marsh Visitors' Center, a number have a historic theme and commence with a trip to the 'Magazzeno del Sale Torre', a striking example of 17th century industrial architecture, once used as salt store and which now houses Cervia's Salt Museum.
From here visitors head off by bike (bikes can be rented at the museum) on a guided tour discovering the traces of Cervia Vecchia, the old town which once stood in the middle of the salt marsh and was demolished towards the end of the 1600's.
Worth their salt
The visitors' center has an impressive selection of salty souvenirs, including the "Mattonella dello chef" or "salt brick": the ideal gift for those interested in cooking quickly, naturally, and without the need for additional fat.
What's more, the food cooked on the tile automatically absorbs just the right amount of salt needed!
Put it in your diary ( ...or on your smartphone)
Parco della Salina di Cervia
Via Salara, 6
Tel. +39 0544.971765