I’ve expressed before on the blog my LOVE of Cervia’s “Sweet Salt” – “Sale Dolce”. You would almost think that such a DEEP LOVE of salt isn’t actually possible ……but it is!
This salt changed my life.
It changed my cooking and because I’ve discovered it, there is NO GOING BACK.
The name is a little misnomer because it isn’t “sweet” at all, it is salty just like regular salt, however, the difference lies in the chemical make up of this salt and the fact that you can *never* over-salt!
Ok, well you actually can use a pinch too much of this stuff, but you know how when you taste something that is too salty, your first reaction is an almost violent convulsion of disgust? You may even find it impossible to finish whatever it is your eating.
There. That just does NOT happen with Cervia’s Sale Dolce.
You may say “this is a little on the salty side”, but you can continue to enjoy it as your palate regulates itself to the saltiness. Because of this “sweet” salt’s purity and the way that it is dried in a completely natural process, it maintains 2% humidity and a high concentration of elements like zinc, copper, iron and magnesium. This same natural process means that other elements like sulfates, potassium and magnesium chloride , which are less soluble are NOT PRESENT, so you don’t get that bitter aftertaste left in your mouth.
In fact, no matter what you salt with Cervia’s Sale Dolce, you’ll never find salt residue left undissolved. What I’m trying to say is, if you are the person with a heavy salting hand, this salt is for you! It turns mediocre cooks into great ones!
Cervia’s White Gold
Cervia, the ancient city along Italy’s Adriatic coastline was once Ficolce, founded by Greek colonies at the end of the 5th century and important during the Byzantine era. It was the production of salt that put this city on the map in antiquity at a time when salt was the only method for food conservation and its commercial importance was parallel to gold!
The End of An Era – La Sallina Camillone
The vast area around Cervia appropriate for the collection of its precious sweet salt was amalgamated in 1959 and is now under the direction of the Società Parco della Salina di Cervia. The 827 hectares of salt producing land now use modern technology and an industrialized production to produce 50,000 tons of pure salt annually.
The ONLY area which still uses a completely manual and traditional production method is the “Camillone” salt marsh. Run COMPLETELY by volunteers, I highly recommend a visit at the end of the summer when the daily process of manually extracting salt from the baths demonstrates the skill of these last salt artisans.
Speaking to the passionate volunteers (almost all retirees), you realize this is the end of an era. Managed by the men and women who grew up on these salt plains, they were here helping their parents work when they were children and they themselves worked here as adults.
They have salt in their veins as they say.
They dedicate their time to the daily manual extraction of salt using 100% traditional, manual methods. In fact, the salt that they produce, an impressive 1,000 tons annually, is the HIGHEST QUALITY “sweet salt” available in the world and is also protected and recognized by Slow Food. Oh and you can buy it for a euro or two a bag directly from them!!
A visit to the Camillone is like being in a living museum. In fact the same people that you meet on your guided tour (also available in English upon request), are the faces you will find in MUSA, the Salt Museum of Cervia, housed in the original Salt storage and processing factory built in the 1600s.
What a strange experience to have met first hand the same people who appear behind glass in the museum’s displays.
You can find the Camillone salt marsh just a short drive away from the centre of Cervia. If you don’t have a car I recommend a a cab ride! From the beginning of June to mid-September you can visit daily at 5 pm. I recommend calling for an appointment at 338 9507741, or if you need to organize a group booking, English tour or tour at another time. You can also call to arrange to visit during the actual salt extraction, if weather is permitting and optimal for the process.
Work at the Salt Marsh
This spot does not exist for tourism alone, it is a real, functioning salt marsh intended to keep the traditions of the area alive and produce some of the World’s best quality salt. The actual extraction occurs daily, HOWEVER, if conditions are not optimal (too much rain etc), then the salt is not gathered.
From June 15th to September 15th you can JOIN THE SALT WORKERS at 4:30 pm daily and accompany them out into the marshes to gather the sweet salt. Please wear comfortable clothing, this is recommended for small groups and people who are over 15 years old. You must call 338 9507741 to book and a donation to the association and volunteers is recommended.
MUSA – Cervia’s Salt Museum
If you have the chance to be in Cervia I highly recommend you visit MUSA. Actually you can’t miss it! Located along the ancient port in a beautiful and impressive building, it remains a vibrant part of life in Cervia with markets, events and exhibits year round. You can find their opening hours, ticket prices and info on their official website.
The museum also houses some of the first records of the city, original artifacts, reproductions of the salt boats and an impressive collection of vintage posters which tell the city’s tale. Until March of 2016 you can also find a well maintained, recently found Byzantine mosaic!
The Museum is located at Via Nazario Sauro, 24 – Magazzino del sale “Torre”
48015 Cervia (RA) Tel./Fax 0544-977592 firstname.lastname@example.org – please visit their website for special events and up to date opening hours http://musa.comunecervia.it/
Open year round with FREE ENTRY but be aware of their opening hours!
From December 20th – January 6th – open daily from 5 – 7 pm
From January 7th to May 31st – open on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 3 – 7pm
From September 16th – December 19th – open on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 3 – 7pm
From June 1 to September 13th – open daily from 8:30 PM – 11:30 pm (Italians stay out late!)
By request only you can organize a private group entrance from Mondays to Fridays in the morning by calling 338 9507741
Where to Buy Cervia’s Sale Dolce
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