The Belice Nature Reserve


Villas in Sicily near the Belice Nature Reserve >>

Rising near Piana degli Albanesi in the mountains above Palermo, the Belice River flows for nearly 80km, wending its way south across western Sicily, until, eventually, its waters mingle with the salty depths of the Mediterranean. To the west lies the archaeological site of Selinunte, to the east, Porto Palo. In between them is a 3km stretch of sandy beach, dunes and coastal flora: the Riserva Naturale del Foce del Belice.

Instituted in 1984, the Belice reserve is a wonderful place to visit in all seasons: beach lovers will always find space on its generous sands during the spring, summer and autumn, and swimmers will appreciate the cleanliness of its waters; in the cooler months, it’s a great spot for a brisk walk, following the disused Castelvetrano-Sciacca railway line while working up an appetite for a long lunch at La Pineta, a traditional fish restaurant at the western extremity of the beach.

For nature lovers there’s also plenty to see. The dunes alternate with depressions, which form salt water pools when the tide comes in. A vibrant, hardy range of flora thrives on the sandy, saline terrain, including sea daffodils, sea rocket, wild asparagus, lentisk and tamarisk. On the fertile banks of the river delta grow towering reeds and bull rushes, and carob trees, dwarf palms and the occasional pine rise discreetly above the dunes.

A section of the beach is given over to lidos, providing sunshades and loungers, but the majority is left to its own natural devices, an aspect appreciated by its most illustrious, if occasional, visitors - loggerhead sea turtles, who find the reserve an ideal spot in which to lay their eggs.

Villas in Sicily near the Belice Nature Reserve >>

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