One of the my favorite souvenirs “made in Slovenia” that I love to bring back to my friends and family in Canada is indeed the solni cvet – fleur de sel, from Piranske Soline – the Piran Salt. This gourmet salt is delicately harvest following a traditional and centuries-old process in the Sečovlje Salina Nature Park.
The traditional salt-making consists of a system of evaporation and crystallization basins. Seawater is led by gravity or pumped channels into a big basin, which is interconnected to a system of smaller evaporation basins by movable wooden gates.
Under the warm of the sun and the breeze from the wind, the seawater evaporates gradually and becomes more concentrated as it moves through the smaller evaporation basins. After a few times of repeating the same process, it goes into the crystallization basin where the salt is finally harvested.
The solni cvet – fleur de sel in Sečovlje is hand-crafted by scrapping the top layer of the salt that collects in the salt pans. Solni cvet is a World renown gourmet delicacy due to its lovely crystallized shape and its intensified taste, aroma and flavor.
Sečovlje Salina Nature Park
The Sečovlje Salina Nature Park has a surface of approximately 750 hectares and it is located at the southwest part of Slovenia, outlining the Croatian borders.
Sečovlje Salt Pans
The beautiful salt pans of Sečovlje are one of two rare salt pans that still follow the traditional harvest of the salt in Worldwide. Slovenia has two active salt pans on its coastline: Sečovlje Salt Pans and Strunjan Salt Pans. The salt pans in the Sečovlje Salina Nature Park are divided into two areas: Lera on the north and Fontanigge on the south.
The Lera area is where the salt-making pans are still active. The sight of what seems like endless salt fields was truly beautiful and impressive. Point of interest in that part of the park include the Lera Gift Shop, where different Piranske Solina products could be purchased, the Multimedia Visitor Center, where a short documentary of the Sečovlje Salina Nature Park could be visioned and the Viewing Platform, which gave a nice outlook of the surrounding.
Getting to the Fontanigge area was a bit strange and unexpected: we had to cross the Slovenian control point and turn right before reaching the Croatian borders to find the entrance. I was glad that I went through and back without much problems as I didn’t have my passport with me! 🙂
The landscape along the bicycle trails (free rental at the entrance) in the Fontanigge area was simply breathtaking: remains of the saltmakers’ houses dating from the 14th century, surrounded by abandoned salt fields. Points of interest includes the Museum of Salt-Making and a Restored Saltmarker’s House, where old tools were exhibited.
The unique saline water ecosystem of Fontanigge attracts many salt-loving animals as well as vegetation. Another interesting activities to do in the park is indeed bird watching – especially for photographers. The Sečovlje Salina Nature Park is home to approximately 300 species of birds!
We biked along the beautiful Dragonja river, which flows between Slovenia and Croatia, all the way to the Adriatic Sea, where we had a very nice view on Portorož. There is also a wooden bridges walking path on the other side of the Fontanigge entrance that leads closer to the remains of saltmakers houses.
I had an fantastic day at the Sečovlje Salina Nature Park despite the crazy Snowstorm at the end of April that caught us on the way back. I would like to visit the Salt Pans again during the harvest season, which generally occurs from June to mid-September! More photos can be found on my Gallery.
Until next time,