The Cervia Salinas, a hypnotic landscape betwen nature and cultureWith its 827 hectares of astounding and suggestive beauty, criss-crossed by 46 km of canals, over 2,000 flamingos and 100 bird species, the Cervia Salinas are a unique Park, a vast expanse of water and salt where history and culture are inextricably linked with local tradition – and only one mile away from the bustling Adriatic coast of Romagna.
Animal biodiversity makes the Salinas a unique salt pan ecosystem, which is protected as a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention. And because several water birds stop here during the winter, and some species nest and breed in the Salinas, in 1979 the Park was also given the status of National Animal Repopulation Natural Reserve.
The Salinas are naturally selective – only peculiar living organisms can integrate and survive in an environment made of few inches of water where salt concentration exceeds 150 parts per thousand. This is the largest habitat of its kind in the whole upper Adriatic coast.
Visit at sunset, at all times of year, for a hypnotic scenery that, with its apparent total motionlessness, seems suspended in time and space. Let the minutes roll slowly by – why not consider a cycling trip – and you will find yourselves on another planet just minutes from the coast. During the summer, guided tours are organised to witness the salt harvest. Salt is still produced in the old traditional way, using wooden tools, and the harvesters themselves illustrate their work and the peculiar qualities of Cervia salt – a comparatively “sweet” salt that does not contain the bitter components that cannot settle in this climate and thanks to daily harvests.
One is left to wonder where such beauty, suspended like a soap bubble right in the middle of the Romagna coast fun factory and its glittery nightlife, comes from. Salt marshes are actually typical of this area, due to the low and clayey coast that retains seawater after high tide, thus forming artificial basins that evaporate under the sun leaving a thin crust of salt.
A lot has changed across the years: until the 1950s there were as many as 144 little salinas, only one of which remains today – the Camillone Salina. The industrialization of the salt harvesting process has meanwhile lead to the unification of all the others into a number of evaporation basins. The machine harvesting is carried out starting from mid-August, while salt is still harvested by hand at the Camillone salina, from mid-June (weather permitting) until mid-September. Camillone salt has been a Slow Food presidium since 2004.