Tonnara di Vendicari

Vendicari Wildlife Oasis

The Vendicari Wildlife Oasis Oriented Nature Reserve is an oriented nature reserve located in the province of Syracuse, precisely between Noto and Marzamemi, particularly important for the presence of marshes that act as a resting place in the migration of birds .

Provided by a law of the Sicilian Region of May 1981, it was officially established in 1984, after the then Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Filippo Maria Pandolfi declared 1450 hectares of territory "wetland of international importance", according to the Convention of Ramsar of 1971.

It was actually made available only in 1989. It is managed by the Regional State Forestry Company.

In March 2021, an arson attack destroyed part of the Oasis.


Inside the Reserve there are several archaeological and architectural settlements . In fact, it is possible to find traces of storage tanks of an ancient fish processing plant , next to which a small necropolis has also been discovered.

There are also remains of the Byzantine period: churches, catacombs, houses and necropolis. The symbol of Vendicari is certainly the Sveva Tower , probably built by Pietro d'Aragona, count of Alburquerque and duke of Noto (1406-1438), as well as brother of Alfonso V of Aragon, king of Spain and Sicily (1416-1458).

Not far away is the tonnara di Vendicari , a decaying building that still retains the chimney in good condition, as well as various establishments and fishermen's houses: the trap was built in the eighteenth century: in the period of maximum expansion it had 40 employees, including two rais (the first from Avola and his deputy from Pachino). He quit his business in 1943.

Tonnara of Vendicari
Tonnara of Vendicari

The Vendicari salt pans had economic importance for a long time, certainly in support of the trap for the conservation of fish. The first plants date back to the 15th century and, to this day, vestiges of them remain on the Pantano Grande.

Vendicari wildlife oasis
Vendicari wildlife oasis

The territory of the Vendicari Wildlife Oasis

The Vendicari Reserve extends for about 1512 hectares, of which 575 in zone A and 937 in zone B (the so-called pre-reserve), in turn divided into zone B1, dedicated to agriculture (citrus groves, olive groves, vineyards and gardens sheltered by sand or rock tomboli) for 701 hectares, and B2, dedicated, for the remainder, to structures for tourism and sport.

Oasi Vendicari
Oasi Vendicari

It is located in a narrow marshy coastal strip, which is of fundamental importance for migratory bird species. In fact , the presence of the vast marshes with high salinity has contributed to the creation of an ecosystem that is a reference point for the birds that, coming from Africa (about 350 km away as the crow flies), stop here in large numbers before reaching the migratory destinations throughout Europe.
Indeed, the reserve area is located at a lower latitude than that of Tunis.

The reserve is a coastal wetland of high biological value due to the presence of different biotopes: rocky coast, sandy coast, Mediterranean scrub, marshes (brackish and freshwater), salt pans, garrigue and cultivated areas .

The marshes Piccolo, Grande, Roveto and the two smaller ones ( Sichilli and Scirbia , connected only to Roveto) are separated from each other by only a few tens of meters: they represent the heart of the reserve.

Among the three, only the Pantano Piccolo never dries up, not even in periods of drought, thanks to the presence of brackish water springs. Pantano Roveto, on the other hand, is the largest (1.24 km²) and the mouth that connects it to the sea is usually buried.

The average depth of the three main marshes is 30-40 cm, while the maximum is 1-2 m.

There are four accesses to the reserve : one in the Eloro area (the northernmost), one in the Cava delle Mosche area, the main entrance at the height of the Swabian Tower and, finally, that of Cittadella dei Maccari (seat of the Byzantine settlement of which a small temple and the necropolis remain)

Vendicari Wildlife Reserve oriented nature reserve