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Around the city there are two wetlands, with both fresh and brackish waters.
S. Gilla - separated from the sea by the La Plaia sand bank - is about 8.000 acres of water that blocks the spread of the city. It is the habitat of many species of birds and worth a mention its beautiful sunset on the water.
S. Gilla is home to some migratory and nesting birds such as Sea Crows, Coots, Avocets, Purple Gallinules and Stilt Plovers. But the most extraordinary species are colonies of pink Flamingos, divided between the ponds of S.Gilla and Molentargius.
Just after the war, many chemical plants were built in this area; industrialization resulted in the need to construct a canal and harbour. This aroused the ecological awareness of the people of Cagliari and now the environmental degradation has been arrested and S. Gilla has been opened again to commercial fishing.

The pond of Molentargius is a rare example of vast wetland inside a city area; it’s almost completely conserved and interdependent on the system of: salt pans, the Santa Gilla lagoon (on the other side of town), the Quartu pond and the Simbirizzi basin. The "Ramsar Convention" designated Molentargius as one of the wet lands of international importance.
The pond covers more than 1.000 acres and is bordered by Cagliari on the west and Quartu on the east, Viale Marconi on the north and Is Arenas on the south.
In reality the area could be divided into different parts (salt pans, Bellarosa Minore, Perdalonga) where restoration works have been ongoing since the end of the Second World War. These works, which are to safeguard the salt pan area from the rising waters, have also made possible the development of a peculiar flora and fauna. This process has been accelerated by the fact that fishing is impossible here, contrary to Santa Gilla.

Behind Poetto beach, one can see the saltpans with their extraordinary coloured waters, which change colour depending on the concentration of salt.
The exploitation of the pond as a source of salt is said to have started in ancient times, under Phoenicians, continued under the Spanish, and afterwards by the Piedmonts. At first people from the villages were employed to collect the salt during the summer months, then prisoners condemned to hard labour were used. It was this use of the pond that gave it its name. Molentargius derives from "su Molenti" the small Sardinian donkey which was loaded with sacks full of salt or which was used to drag the boats into the canals.
During the first thirty years of this century the collecting method was changed. A system utilizing vaporizing tanks was introduced. The sea water is pumped from the sea to external basins and from there it is slowly pumped to the central basin. Then it crosses the Is Arenas canal and enters the "salting" tanks in Quartu where the vaporizing process comes to an end.

The City of Salt gives us an overview of the history of modern industrial activities in the shapes of the buildings connected with the quarrying of salt. The large pavilions at La Palma bear witness to the impulse given to activities in the years between the two wars, with complex structures devoted to the production of derivatives. The building for potassium salts, the tobacco warehouse with the remains of the tall chimney that fell in the 1970s, the bromide plant with its white silos and a chimney rising to over fifteen metres, residential areas and office buildings, the church, the theatre and warehouses all form a fascinating and unique complex. The history of the techniques employed can also be seen in the remains of the iron bridges, the plants, the electric pumping station, the remains of the railway lines for transport of salt on long convoys to the harbour for shipment to the mainland. Today, the machinery for automatic salt extraction are all abandoned, but up to a few years ago they were ‘made-to-measure’ on site, with engineering choices of a high technical level and specially designed for the kind of salt produced in the Cagliari area.

Interest in Molentargius is not limited to economic factors.
In fact the whole area is a biotope of great importance, where thousands of birds of over 200 different species live.
Despite discharging of waste waters, poaching and other forms of pollution, the extraordinary ornithological patrimony of Molentargius has survived.
It appears to be recovering from the damage and a project for a nature park with museums and libraries for Molentargius is imminent.
The presence of salty and fresh water governs the location of the different ornithological species.
Among them are colonies of pink flamingos, coots, cormorants, anatids (ducks, geese, and swans) and other species. In the Bellarosa Minore area there are moorhens, purple gallinules, herons (purple herons, cattle egrets), marsh harriers, snipes, mallards and still others.
This ecosystem (one of the most important in Europe), where species - that are for the most part extinct elsewhere in Europe - live together, must be protected at all costs from the constant threats that endanger it. Firstly, there is the risk of suffocation caused by its being surrounded by a large urban area. Secondly, there is damage caused by pollution, uncontrolled human presence and poachers.

Poetto Beach is located on the outskirts of Cagliari in front of Molentargius pond, from "Sella del Diavolo" ("The Saddle of the Devil") to "Margine Rosso" (The Red Boarder) in Quartu. It has more than 6 miles of fine white sand facing the Gulf of the Angels. It is regarded by many as one of the world's top beaches, lined with kiosks and cafés, it is the most popular beach of Cagliari and attracts sun worshippers by day and serves as a meeting place for young people at night.
Golfo degli Angeli is the gulf where Cagliari is situated and Sella del Diavolo is the hill that overlooks Poetto from the South.
As the legend goes devils took control of the Gulf. They were defeated by the Archangel Michel after a long hard battle. During the devils retreat their leader Lucifero, lost his saddle which fell into the sea and became petrified. Since then the Angels have taken care of the Gulf and have promised ever lasting peace.
The name "Poetto" probably derives from the tower called "of the poet" which stands on the Eastern side of the S. Elia promontory. Certainly if one wishes to admire the enchanting "Torre del Poeta" it is better to avoid the most popular parts of the beach and the busiest periods.
This beach is nowadays separated from the ever expanding city by a small land.
The conditions change with the wind. A slight Mistral wind is enough to freshen the air, to make the colours more vivid and the sea water more transparent.

The first lidos on Poetto beach were opened in the early XX century and it became an open air recreation area. The bathers became more and more numerous because of the beautiful brilliant white sand dunes, the transparency of the water which extends to the horizon. Small wooden huts in the same style as the first beach huts in Lido were built along the beach. These multicoloured constructions became something between changing rooms and small seaside houses.
Nowadays Poetto beach looks very different from before. The popularity of Poetto has led to the establishment of services and amenities that one can find on every crowded beach: such as pedal powered boats, refreshment stands, pizzerias and an amusement park.
The things that made Poetto unique (like the open air theatre in Lido during the 20s and 30s years and the multicoloured wooden huts) have gone. The wooden huts were demolished in 1986 as they were considered unhygienic. Unfortunately the decision makers did not take into consideration the architectural and cultural heritage they represented.
Poetto remains a pleasant beach because it is not far from the city, because of its large sandy shore and its clean sea water.

CONDAGHE di Sanna Alessandro
V. Roma, 8 - 09021 Barumini (CA) - Italy
Fax: (0039) 0709361030
Tel: (0039)3405654506
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