The Stagnone is a lagoon (the largest in Sicily) and is situated within the regional natural reserve of Isole dello Stagnone of Marsala founded in 1984, which comprises the four islands of San Pantaleo (Mozia), Isola Grande, Schola and Santa Maria and coastal salt producing towns of San Teodoro, Genna and Ettore Infersa. It is located on the west coast of Sicily and extends towards the sea, in the stretch between Punta Alga and Capo San Teodoro. It is characterized by shallow waters (from 50 cm to 2 meters maximum), very salty and this has led to the creation of numerous salt pans which characterize the Via del Sale; a multicolored chessboard of mirrors of water surrounded by windmills, pink flamingos and sunsets of breath-taking colors.
Scents from the Mediterranean scrub fill every corner of the reserve and the islands. It is also home to many species of birds including flamingos, skylarks, goldfinches, magpies. and calendra larks.
The waters of the lagoon are populated by a very rich variety fauna and fish including anemones, sea flakes, spiny murex from which the Phoenicians used the purple to dye fabrics, and about 40 different species of fish including sea bass, sea bream and sole.
The seabed is characterized by meadows of Poseidonia Oceanica, a marine plant formed by long, green leaves with flowers gathered in spikes. This plant is one of the primordial elements of life in the waters of the Mediterranean.
The salt pans have a long history, dating back to the time of the Phoenicians, who noted the extremely favourable conditions and created these pans to siphon off the salt, then exported it throughout the Mediterranean. This is where the process of extracting the salt begins. This portion of ground characterized by shallow waters and suitable climatic conditions encourages evaporation for extraction of this precious element, which is essential to human life. One of the fundamental properties of salt is in fact its power to store food, a feature also known to the ancient populations who used it for storage and processing of perishable produce. Nowadays the salt continues to be mined, although the methods have changed, and the process is now mechanized. Mills are no longer used but remain a characteristic landmark of this area.