Shimmering pools, mountains of salt and migratory birds. Of course, the Salt works of Margherita di Savoia are a lot more but it is through these three elements that the story of a truly amazing strip of land comes from.
We are in Puglia on the border between the province of Foggia and that of Barletta-Andria-Trani, near the mouth of the Ofanto river, overlooking the Adriatic Sea. The salt works stretches for 20 km long, a maximum depth of about 5 kilometers, while the total area is about 4500 hectares. These bodies of water and strips of clay soil host the Salt Natural Reserve of Margherita di Savoia, an area with unique characteristics, both natural and historical.
Today the Puglia Salt works is the largest in Europe and second in the world with an average annual production of up to 6 million tons. Given the large area of the Reserve, the tours are all with a specialized guide: is also the best way to discover the history and peculiarities of the area as you walk through the most interesting parts of it. The Romans used these salt works too, then they passed to the Normans, the Bourbons, then they became state monopoly and then, in recent years, a private management. In short, the Salt works have always been here.
The surface covered by waters is about 4000 hectares, and it is divided into the evaporating area (3500 hectares) and the salting area (500 hectares). The other 500 hectares are just roads, embankments, storage farmyards and workshops.
For nature lovers the most exciting element of the Salt works is the bird wildlife. There are so many species: from the most common Dunlin to the rare Chiulottello (endangered), Curlew and Widgeon. A paradise for bird watchers, also because the presence of breeding birds is massive. In the Salt works the pink flamingos, for example, have created one of the most numerous colonies of Europe. But to attract bird watchers are also the beautiful Stilt, Avocet, Kentish Plovers, Little Tern, Partridge, Pratincole, the pink Sea Gull and the Mediterranean Sea Gull. The Italian National Forest Service supervises these animals.
Visit the Salt works will allow you to discover and understand different aspects of the nature and how is the operation of this humid area, especially going through the route crossing the salting area, where you can see the salt production process, and in the storage farmyards where you will see real ‘white’ mountains. It is not neglected the educational aspect at the laboratory dedicated in which you can use electron microscopes and admire salt crystals. Very interesting is the Historical Museum of the Salt works, a place for dialogue between the scientific community and visitors.
The best periods to visit the Salt works are the months of June, July, August and September if you want to see the production, while in winter you can admire Spoonbills, Cranes, white Herons and Geese migrations.