Med Pearls presents: Sabina Reatina and Etna Vulcano-Valle Alcantara, the first Italian Pearls chosen as destinations for sustainable tourism and total respect for nature


Of particular importance are the conservation and promotion of natural heritage, one of the indisputable assets of the two pilot areas, as well as the protection of the environment through the use of renewables and green investments. Italy is in 19th place on a global scale for the attractiveness of investors in the renewable energy market. A result slightly down (-2 positions) compared to the last pre-Covid report, which shows, however, that Italy remains an important context for investors to push the accelerator of the energy transition.

Mass tourism is an obstacle as it generates several negative environmental impacts that depend on the types and components of tourism. These impacts include: increased water and energy consumption, landscape destruction, increased waste, loss of biodiversity and alteration of ecosystems, and forest fires. It is extremely necessary to consider these impacts because tourism in the italian Mediterranean area is based on the attractiveness of its natural resources, such as pleasant climate, clean water, parks.

The Sustainable Tourism that we are implementing with the ENI CBC MED Project "Med Pearls" intends to promote Environmental Education in Etna Vulcano/Alcantara Valley and Sabina Reatina, two areas rich in rivers and lakes. The environmental education that is carried out in the two areas, leads to the knowledge of biodiversity, makes you understand the relationship of man with the river and along the river, where paths can be made to be used in soft mobility, developing good consumption related to conscious living, correct and sustainable.

From the waters of the river Alcantara, every day is produced clean energy in a hydroelectric plant, a jewel of hydraulic engineering, located in the village of Castiglione di Sicilia (Province of Catania) that is able to meet the needs of neighboring communities in a natural, safe and sustainable way. From the same waters of the Alcantara and from the numerous tributaries - that from the territories of Castiglione and Francavilla di Sicilia go down to the slopes of the Etna Volcano - rural operators cultivate wisely precious fruits such as almonds and walnuts of the mountain village of Motta Camastra and, all the typical products of the Sicilian enogastronomic tradition such as the extra virgin olive oil "Valdemone", the honey "Millefiori", the red wine "Etna D. O.C." and the peach of Mojo Alcantara just to mention some of them.

In respect of the surrounding environment and through cultural promotion of the Mediterranean Diet (Unesco Heritage since 2010), from the waters of that river derive "clean" electricity and typical food excellence, intended for neighboring communities and tourists. Visitors can take part in guided tours of the plant, scheduled several times a year thanks to the Alcantara River Park, sharing convivial moments thanks to the organic food products of short chain. These are special occasions to know peculiarities and curiosities of Sicilian food biodiversity and correct lifestyles, not neglecting playful and instructive activities dedicated to the world of renewable energies. In the Alcantara Valley, thanks to the hydroelectric power plant, educational and communicative paths are realized for young people who are concretely involved in recycling of materials, waste disposal and responsible use of energy and water.

The link between energy and tourism is a major emerging field of study. Currently, one of the main topics of energy research is energy efficiency, because policies in this sense can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve energy security and generate savings. Energy efficiency plays a key role in the sustainable development of the tourism sector. The use of renewable energy is considered a crucial way to increase the eco-efficiency of destinations and to achieve tourism sustainability. Some empirical results suggest that improved energy efficiency practices simultaneously bring benefits to the sustainability of both tourism development and the environment. Consequently, it is important to note that energy use is an aspect that must be integrated into the discussion of sustainable tourism development.

Sabina- Reatina, too, knows how to create the necessary conditions for enhancing the environmental, cultural and tourism resources connected to the ecosystem of the Salto and Turano lakes and, in the area of the Monte Navegna and Monte Cervia Nature Reserve, in an integrated, coordinated and sustainable way. In particular, the Reserve is rich in the experience of various integrated territorial projects useful for the creation of a new model of territorial government that involves the Turano Valley area. Laboratories of experimental ecology and aquaculture of the University of Rome Tor Vergata are growing in order to know the ichthyic fauna of the Salto and Turano lakes and the emerging problems for the sustainable management of fishing. Studies are focused on the lake ecosystems in the Sabina Reatina, as water has always played a central role in the history of the area. If there is something unifying, something that unites the various heterogeneous areas of the Province of Rieti, it is water, and in particular the river network: a system of natural and artificial waters, including rivers, springs, aquifers and lakes that make up the connective tissue of the area.

It is a territory of high environmental value, characterized by a series of areas dedicated to the conservation of biodiversity, in which the interdependence of biotic and anthropic elements in ensuring the natural balance in all its components is recognized. The territory is largely characterized by areas of environmental protection, particularly concentrated along the river Velino.

These areas are part of the European Network "Natura 2000", identified according to the presence of habitats, plant and animal species of Community interest. Acting as potential lever, the creation of Pearls in the Turano Valley will be able to strengthen even more the local communities, respecting the balance consolidated for centuries: the purpose is to increase the productive and working opportunities but always favoring the protection of the territory.
Nature is our greatest resource. Knowing how to listen to it, catching its breath, allying ourselves to its strength in perfect balance: this is the challenge of Mediterranean Pearls, which will accompany its first Pearls in Italy.


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