Erice & the Trapani Salt Pans: Day 11

Today we had travelled to a very ancient small town above the mountain. It was 700 meters above the sea. It was built before the Trojan war. The symbol of this small town is dove. The town had three entrances; it also surrounded by walls. The was built 3000 years ago. It also had 67 churches. The town was famous of corals. During the summer times, many people will put tables in the main square and sit together. There is a big castle in the town. It was built in 12 century, also used as prison in the 18th century. This castle was well preserved, placed on a cliff. It was founded in the Middle Age. But unfortunately, it was closed to the travelers. Near the castle, there is a garden which built by a noble in 18 century. In the garden, we can see a very beautiful land scape of a part of the Sicily. At the second doors, we see the ruins of the 67 towers which protect the town. When this town was under the control of the Spanish people in 16 century. The Spanish built a court to place soldiers in the town. There is a legend about the court. In that time a Spanish solider fell in love with a local woman. But the girl’s fiancé tried to stop them. So the solider killed the girl’s fiancé, and punished by hanging. When he got hung up, wind whispered and blew his red hood off. He became the ghost of that place, still remaining today. Then, we go to a local museum which recorded ancient tools in the town. We also took a picture at the empty place in front of the museum. 

Ricardo Xie

In the afternoon, we visited the salt pan in Culcasi. This salt pan has a history of more than 600 years and follows the traditional producing procedure from 2000 years ago. Although some parts of the process have been improved by modern techniques, we could still have an idea about the original sea salt producing traditions by visiting the museum established by the sea pan. There are three key elements to make good sea salt: sunshine, wind, and seawater. Culcasi is the only producing area of sea salt in Sicily, because it takes advantage of its perfect climate and geographic location: the flat terrain welcomes wind four seasons a year; the bay connected to Mediterranean Sea provides plenty of clean seawater; the Mediterranean climate makes sure that the region can enjoy the consistent sunshine and dryness from April to September. The sea pan built up four pools with different depth and width. Workers use traditional pump to drain the sea water through these pools, and the concentration of salt keeps increasing in the process. In the summer, the scorching sunshine will dry out the last pool with highest concentration, and salts will appear. The salts made through this process have a better quality than mineral salts do because they contain trace elements from the sea and are healthier for people. Another interesting fact we learnt about the sea salt production in Sicily is that in ancient times, salts were tax free goods in Sicily but not in other parts of Europe, so many people smuggled salts to the mainland of Europe and made Sicily salt very famous.

Dehe Liu (Mark)

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