The magnificent coastal nature reserve located at the mouth of the river Platani (Foce del Fiume Platani) stretches from Capo Bianco (Cattolica Eraclea) to Borgo Bonsignore (Ribera). Of unrivalled beauty, silence is interrupted only by the waves breaking on the beach, the wind in the trees and the birds flying overhead. As white as the Scala dei Turchi, the rocky bluff of Capo Bianco is of both geological and archaeological interest: the ruins of the Greek city of Eraclea Minoa, founded in 6th century BC by the inhabitants of nearby Selinunte, are still visible in the cliff tops. The nature reserve extends westward from Capo Bianco and protects a vast and diverse ecosystem: a long beach with low dunes, an ample river delta and a hinterland of Mediterranean scrub.
The vegetation found in the dunes is typical of these sandy coastal areas: Mediterranean shrubs and bushes such as Letisco, Tamarisk, Ravastrello and baby palms. Along the river beds the flora is typical of marshy areas, with species adapted to a semi-salty environment which floods in the rainy season. Moving upstream, bare patches may be noted where the vegetation becomes less dense due to underground deposits of rock salt: reason why the Greeks called the Platani “Halykòs”, or “salty”. The delta is not only an important environmental resource, but also a rich historical site. The valley has hosted many prehistoric populations such as the Sicani who thrived in the area thanks to the presence of the river, which was navigable until the period of the Roman Empire, and to the natural deposits of salt used for trading.
In the dunes it is not rare to find Marine Lilies, Ginestra Retama and, if you’re lucky, in spring you might find the rare and beautiful Giant Orchid. In summer nights the Mediterranean sea turtles Caretta Caretta choose these beaches and similar unpolluted beaches along the coast to deposit their eggs. Furthermore, the reserve offers a protected environment for an incredibly large variety if birds: about 80 species of migratory birds including flamingos pass overhead at the change of the season whilst approximately 30 species regularly nest here. This makes for a rich and complex ecosystem with a great biodiversity. The nature reserve is accessible from Borgo Bonsignore; from there, proceed eastwards on foot along the beach until you reach the mouth of the river. This corner of paradise attracts naturalists, hikers, bathers and also nudists, as it is renowned to be a ‘tolerant’ beach.
The Nature Reserve is mainly mediterranean scrub. Reach the parking lot by cutting through the residential beach resort of Borgo Bonsignore.
From the parking lot there are several footpaths leading into the Natural Reserve and to the long, sandy beach.
The mouth of the river can be reached by a 20 min walk along the beach in the direction of the white cliffs of Capo Bianco.
The beach is very long and wide and some areas are popular with nudists.
The Nature Reserve Foce del Fiume Platani is open to visitors all year round.
It is not recommended to visit the area during or shortly after showers of rain as the roads and paths can get very muddy in some areas.
Nature Reserve Foce del Fiume Platani: free access and parking
Guided visits are available upon prior booking.
Riserva Naturale Foce del Fiume Platani
Administration office: for further information
Provincial offices of Agrigento:
Tel. +39 0922 27088
Local office of Ribera:
Tel. +39 0925 545951
Riserva Naturale Foce del Fiume Platani: the following coordinates indicate the point of interest
Click on the “P” on the map to visualize Google Maps and the GPS coordinates of the parking lot at the entrance to the Nature Reserve.
N 37° 24' 27.94''
E 13° 16' 7.18''