A long section of coastline, in the south of Sicily, overlooks the African continent, from which it receives strong contaminations, in a relationship of continuous osmosis. That is where Menfi lies. The warm sirocco wind carries the seeds of vegetable species that are typical of the African coast, such as dwarf fan palms, cactaceous plants, and sea lilies, which have perfectly adapted here and have spread around.
Along its long journey, the Southern wind carries with it the tiny grains of the fine sand of the African desert, which lie down on the Sicilian coast to form fabulous golden beaches. Dispersed in the wind, these small sand grains with their multifaceted looks and colour shades make the landscape and the habitat unmistakably unique.
Retained by the vegetation around the beach, the sand heaps up and creates dunes to protect inland areas from the stormy waves and sea winds, as well as from the erosion caused by salt. Along this dune and beach strip, that extends for about 5 km, one feels as if he or she is in another world, where the wild natural beauty of the sea can be admired in all its splendour.
The climate is characterized by little rainfalls, continuous rushing winds, and high summer temperatures which cause the dunes to be surrounded by a rich and diversified flora, with creeping herbs and delicate flowers whose roots contribute to consolidate the dunes. Walking around in the early morning or when shadows start lengthening and the red sun is about to disappear on the horizon, one can smell the perfume of the sea and the small waves of sand are dotted with wood pieces, reeds and shells carried by the winter sea storms that offer protection to very rare beetle species and where the royal seagulls stand.
The coast in front of Menfi is long and diversified, and long sandy stretches are followed by sections of beach consisting of large white polished rocks. Such different but always beautiful, wild beaches line a sea that may go from intense blue to foamy white when undulated with waves, to turquoise when flat. This is a really uncontaminated sea that every year is awarded the “Blue Flag” for the clearness of its waters.
Porto Palo: a small community of fishermen live in this picturesque maritime village, the largest and most crowded beach in the summer. This long stretch of golden sand backed by dunes and sea lilies offers calm waters both for its low depth and for the presence of a small marina precisely located below the old sixteenth-century Saracen watchtower that dominates the hamlet. Another popular beach is Lido Fiori, with sandy dunes and reed thickets that draw a landscape of inestimable ecological value.
At the foot of a coastal hill lies the long and narrow Serrone Cipollazzo beach, renowned for its high dunes and covered with a thick reed vegetation that gives a particularly uncontaminated look to the giant promontory above. Capparrina is another beach that lies at the foot of a splendid hill with olive groves: it is one of the most distant from the village, so its beauty is particularly wild, and has a precious natural area protected by a thick vegetation of dwarf fan palms.
Not far from Caparrina lies the Giache Bianche beach, in the area called contrada Bertolino Lagano: here the sand consists of tiny white pebbles that are called giache in the local dialect. Here guests are surrounded by nothing else than seawater, rocks and maritime pines, and in the back immediately vineyards and olive groves. Another uncontaminated stretch of coast is called Solette: it is one of the most difficult to reach, but certainly among the finest and most picturesque. It extends for about 25 hectares with the large Gurra di Mare valley that opens up right on the sea with this beach that still offers suggestive wilderness features.
The beauty and wealth of Nature is constantly maintained in these places thanks to the long-established protection of WWF, because it contains a very special dune ecosystem with a unique habitat. Here marine turtles of the Caretta Caretta species arrive from the sea to lay their eggs and, after two months’ wait, one can see the eggs break open and baby turtles run towards the sea.
It is in this uncontaminated territory that the Mandrarossa varietal wines are made. A selection of small vineyards produce excellent products, the result of careful research and experimentation: Fiano, a solar southern cultivar of the peninsula that here expresses a distinctive aroma and acidity; Chardonnay, fruity and round, with tropical notes that melt with Sicilian citrus fruits; Viognier, modern and elegant, with its final note of bitter almond. Red wines include the versatile and fruity Syrah, with its scents of ripe red fruits, full and pleasant flavour; Merlot, soft, round and perfumed, carrying plum, ripe cherry and vanilla sensations; Cabernet Sauvignon, an elegant and complex wine with hints of red fruits that melt with very pleasant herbaceous notes.
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