Monk’s Salt-Marsh

The salt-marsh - known as the Monk’s Salt-Marsh because it has been run by the Benedictine Monks of Aversa until 1404 - is 250.000 square metres wide and close to a stretch of coastal dunes located on the western side of “Torre Colimena”. The salt-marsh is a depression sunken between sand dunes towards the sea and hills towards the mainland. Originally sea water poured into the depression when sea storms occurred, the sea water was later channelled into the depression through two pipelines created into the tuffaceous cliff. The water inflow was controlled thanks to wooden sluices, of which traces can still be seen today.

The salt extraction-carried out in this salt-marsh for centuries because of the good profit margins- is witnessed by the presence of a deposit built with square segments made of tufa on the northern rocky shore of the salt-marsh. Next to the deposit there was a tower (its ruins can still be seen today). On the western side of the deposit, a few metres away from it, there are the remains of a small church dedicated to the Holy Mary of Carmelo.

In spite of the fact that the architectural landscape could be a disheartening sight, the natural landscape hosts very interesting botanical and faunal species. As a matter of fact the Monk’s Salt-Marsh has been included in the Sites of Community Importance (SCI) of “ Rete Natura 2000” and has become a “Controlled Natural Reserve” according to Regional Law no. 24 of 23 December 2002. In this habitat grow luxuriant the halophytic plants, Mediterranean maquis (especially myrtle, mastic tree, strawberry tree, thymus, heath), shrubby and herbaceous garrigue. In spring birds like the dwarf heron, black-winged Stilt, kingfisher, pink flamingo and many more choose the salt marsh as a rest area where to feed themselves.