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Finestre Sottomarine
(Windows Under the Sea)

The sections below provide a summary of some of the Italian marine protected areas, and how they relate to the US system of national marine sanctuaries.

Isole Egadi Finestra Capo Rizzuto Finestra
Porto Cesareo Finestra Torre Guaceto Finestra
Tavolara Finestra Peninsola di Sinis Finestra
Asinara Finestra

Isole Egadi

Many have observed that the shape of the country of Italy reflects a boot kicking a soccer ball, (and thus, why some claim it foretells why Italy is so good at men's soccer). With that imagery, the Egadi Islands are tufts of turf in front of the advancing soccer ball. The Egadi Islands marine protected area is comprised of a five-island archipelago west of Sicily. It is the largest of the Italian marine protected areas, largest in all Europe in fact, protecting 208 square miles and 46 miles of coastline (the tri-national "sanctuary" to protect marine mammals in the Ligurian sea, significantly larger than the Egadi Islands, is not technically considered a marine protected area because it only focuses on marine mammals and not whole ecosystems.) (MORE)


Capo Rizzuto

Calabria is the toe of Italy's boot, and along the southern coast of Calabria lies a remarkable marine protected area called Capo Rizzuto. Given the size of Capo Rizzuto (55 square miles) its relatively long coastline (26 miles), three satellite offices and visitor center/aquarium, and well developed management programs, it is the marine protected area that has many of the same elements as a United States national marine sanctuary. (MORE)


Porto Cesareo

On the west coast of Puglia, on the western side of the "heel" of the boot of Italy, is the Jonio Sea. Porto Cesareo, an old historic port town on the Jonio Sea, is the name given to the third largest marine protected area. It protects 64 square miles, 20 miles of coastline, and 20% of the area is zoned either Zone A or Zone B (click here for more information about Italian zoning of protected areas).(MORE)


Torre Guaceto

Of the three marine protected areas in the region of Puglia, two are on opposite sides of the "heel" of the Italian peninsula. The smaller of these two, Torre Guaceto (Tower of Guaceto) on the eastern coast along the Adriatic sea, protects the coastal waters offshore of a regional terrestrial park. The MPA integrates the management responsibilities of the terrestrial park and the marine protected area. The management structure for the park and marine protected area lie with a consortium of the city of Carovigno (principal management responsibility), the city of Brindisi and the World Wildlife Fund. The MPA manager works for both the park and marine protected area, as well as for the Ministry of Environment in Rome who directs the overall marine protected area program for Italy. (MORE)


Tavolara—Punta Coda Cavallo

In 1997, when the Ministry of Environment designated Tavolara-Punta Coda Cavallo, (Tavolara-Horse Tail Point) it became the largest marine protected area (at that time) on the island of Sardinia. It protects nearly 60 square miles. It was an obvious decision, given these coastal waters are just south of Sardinia's and perhaps the Mediterranean' most famous coastline—"Costa Smeralda", the Emerald Coast. (MORE)


Penisola di Sinis—Isola di Mal de Ventre

The second largest marine protected area in Italy, designated in 1999, combines the peninsula of Sinis and the island of "Mal de Ventre", or bad wind. The city of Cabras has taken an immediate interest in Peninsula of Sinis since it received management responsibility four years ago. Under the leadership of a member of the city council, the city successfully convinced the Ministry of Environment to recast the original site boundaries and the boundaries of the zones. This has led to an incredible amount of political, logistical and financial support for the marine protected area by the City of Cabras. (MORE)


Isola di Asinara

The Ministry of Environment's Director General of Italy's protected area programs, Dr. Aldo Cosentino, has aptly observed that coastal and marine protected areas in the United States and Italy are fundamentally different in that Italy's coastline has been used by humans for many thousands of years and heavily developed for many hundreds of years. Most of the national marine sanctuaries in the United States typically protect areas of relative wilderness or public owned parks or protected seashores. Or they protect no coastline at all and only offshore ocean areas. (MORE)