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Italian Experience
August, 2011
Posted by 
Valentina Bertazzoni

The Marsala saltwork

Beside the famous, strong, sweet wine, Marsala has some interesting produces. Salt may seem trivial, well, it is not. Faced to the regular Mediterranean wind coming from west this blessed land had the ideal climate to extract salt from sea water, since the first human settlements, through the Greeks, the Romans and today. Since that time and for ages afterwards salt was so important for food preservation and human nutriment to be regarded as money. Hence the word “salary” we still use today.

In Marsala a saltwork still produces the salt on the same spot, the same way of two or three millennia ago, with Sun, wind, and seawater.
It is a beautiful view: huge, shallow pools are placed in degrading order to bring seawater inland with the help of traditional sail windmills. Pool after pool, the water changes color and while evaporating it thickens, leaving all the mineral it contains until, in the last pool, blinding white piles of sodium chlorite are amassed, by hand, in cones.
This slow process produces the best salt for human usage, healthier than rock salt where all the minerals are still present along with the chemical products used for extraction. Pure seawater salt can be identified on the box and by its higher price. The difference is affordable and a moderate use of the good one is advisable.
Marsala is near Trapani, can be reached by flight, or Ferry and has very beautiful surroundings, including the Aegadian Archipelago with the island of Favignana, alone worth the trip.