Exploring: Tindari Lagoon

October 20, 2010

I am finally getting a chance to post information about our fabulous camping adventure to the Tindari area. We arrived at the Marinella campground after dark and thanks to our handy dandy pop-up tent we were able to set up camp very quickly. We then walked out the gate of the campground and had dinner at a waterfront restaurant in the town of Oliveri. It was nice to have such easy access to town when we were all so hungry. We had pitched our tent as close as possible to the beach side of the campground so we all quickly fell asleep to the sound of the waves. And when we woke up the next morning it was even more wonderful to discover that not only were we on a pleasant little beach, we were actually on the edge of an amazing little nature preserve: The Tindari Lagoon with stunning views of the Aoelian islands and in the shadow of the ancient Greek city of Tindaris and the church housing the remarkable Black Madonna. We spent part of  our first  full day to wind our way up to the town of Tindari to explore both of those interesting sites.

As I already mentioned, the trip was a much needed escape for all of us, but the time we spent exploring the lagoon filled me such awe and peace that it really was the highlight of the weekend for me. Striking vistas in all directions, remarkably pristine paths, a beautiful rocky beach on one side and a sandy one on the other. And it turns out that we weren't the only ones who were camping and re-charging in the lagoon. On our second morning, we were up early for one last walk when we came across a man with binoculars around his neck frantically scribbling notes. He stopped and excitedly waved us to his side as he pointed and drew our attention to a large gathering of black and white storks. They, too, were drawn to the "tongue" of sand and the lagoon filled with enticing critters and like us they had also decided to "camp" here for a few days. We were witnessing their migration from Northern Europe to Africa for the winter months. Huge white storks (with wing spans up to five feet) and black storks with their glamorous red legs and the story of their return to Europe. It was quite an impressive sight.

I wish, wish, wish, really wish that I had a good zoom lens. I wasn't able to get any great shots of them and we didn't want to be too intrusive so hopefully by writing this experience down I will lodge the memory of those beautiful storks in my brain. I am going to tuck it into the spot right next to the memory I have of my father coming home one night and hurrying us int the family van so we could head down the road to see something I will never forget: a pink, noisy, fluttering tree. A tree full of roseate spoonbills roosting in the faint glow of the setting sun. A truly magical memory.

It turns out that the guy who pointed out the storks in the lagoon is a professor from Palermo. A very friendly and excited naturalist who let us all have several turns with his binoculars. He is the guy pictured up above (with the birds being the dark specks in the background). After taking notes and pictures, Natale (we soon learned he was born on Christmas Day) settled down in the sand and smoked a cigarette. It seemed so incongruent with the stunning  surroundings and amazing nature show happening right before our eyes, and yet, it was also so very Italian. And in a very strange way his actions reminded me of my father. My father who was so excited and entranced by those spoonbills that I imagine he must have reached into his pocket and pulled out a piece of Trident gum in much the same way Natale lit up his cigarette. Never thought I would find anything comforting about sitting next to a balding stranger smoking a cigarette while watching a group of very large, migrating birds wade along a beach in Sicily, but I did. I really did. 

Camping Notes for Marinello

Since we were camping during the off-season, the campsite was relatively quiet and empty. In addition to sites for tents, there are a number of spaces for campers and several options for cabins/bungalows. The older bungalows are attractive white stucco with tile roofs. There are some that are right on the water with beautiful views of the nature preserve. We did take a peek inside and they are very bare bones (tiny kitchen, bathroom and small bedrooms) and a bit dark, but if you were able to get one right on the water it might be worth a stay. The newer bungalow options are trailers that are managed and booked through a separate company, Camp 2 Relax. We spoke to one German family who was very happy with their trailer-stay. Those are also right along the beach area and we would consider staying there, especially during the colder months or if we went with a group of families.

The campground has a restaurant on-site but it is closed during off-season so I can't comment on that. We did find the camp store very helpful and had a nice little selection of fresh bread, salami, cheeses, and olives and fresh tomatoes. The staff all spoke excellent English and German. 

One other important note. When we were checking-in, we were asked if we had a Sicilian campsite discount card. We did not, but once we got the details we quickly signed up. It was free! And it gave us a significant discount for our stay and for future stays at the other campgrounds on the list.

Villagio Marinello
likeschocolate said...

Beautiful! I might get to go to Sicily this spring. After seeing yours and Emily's photos. It looks so amazing. What isn't there to love about Italy though. Well, maybe all the trash and drawings on buildings. Have a great week!

boatbaby said...

Magical! What a delicious picture you paint with your words. The local tourism board should hire you!

Laurie said...

Wow. Awesome.

John said...

Thank you very much for valuable information…Your article is helpful !

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