Sicily’s first nature reserve, Zingaro, established in 1981, stretches for seven kilometers along the north-western coastline of the Gulf of Castellammare, between San Vito Lo Capo and Scopello – one of the few unspoilt stretches of coast in Sicily, with no roads to ruin the landscape.
It was thanks to the work of a few forward-thinking environmentalists and the heartfelt participation of the local population that this area escaped the fate of human (over)settlement; in 1980, a protest march blocked the construction of the Scopello-San Vito coastal road, followed by the establishment of the natural reserve in 1981, recognizing it as an area of great environmental interest.
The Zingaro reserve has a large variety of rare and endemic plants, and a rich fauna, giving it a great diversity not found in other parts of the island. Almost 40 species of bird nest and mate here, mainly birds of prey, including peregrine falcons, kestrels and buzzards. The area also has an interesting archeological history, as testified by the Uzzo Grotto, one of the first prehistoric settlements in Sicily.
But the Zingaro Reserve is also a gorgeous sea-nature destination, with its network of walking paths, steep cliffs overlooking the azure and green waters, and tiny bays where to relax and take a dip.
You can explore the reserve by taking one of the three walking paths, which traverse the reserve from end to end (north entrance is at San Vito, south entrance is at Scopello) on different levels. The busiest path is the coastal one because you can easily reach many gorgeous inlets by taking short detours. It takes two hours one way to walk its entire length, 7 km. For something a bit more challenging (and less crowded), use the mid-coast (8,5 km, 4 and ½ hours to complete) or the high path (17,5 km, 7 hours to complete), where you can enjoy even more breathtaking panoramic views.
The Zingaro Nature Reserve is open every day, from 7 am to 7 pm. Entrance fee is €5. For more information, click here.
Want to learn about other destinations in Western Sicily? Click here.