La Tonnara di San Vito Lo Capo - The Tuna Factory
On the land are few kilometers from San Vito, somebody goes there by bike, walking, many people jogging in the cooler hours.
We go there by boat, the Tonnara is just a few minutes of navigation behind Punta Solanto, in the Gulf of Firriato.
The dive site has a remarkable variety. A rock plateau allows the anchorage between 3 to 5 meter, a first step leads to 9 meters on a large platform that goes down to 18 meters, from them there are two paths, one leading to a wall that goes from 30 to 40 meters with a large cavity filled up by red prawns and the other following a drop off between 25 and 30 meters where you can meet pelagic fish, octopus and morays eel dens.
In short, just a nice dive spot with a special feature for all the dive profiles, shards and fragments of ancient amphorae.
I noticed from the first dive, especially on the esplanade between 9 and 15 meters a carpet of various shapes and sizes of pottery's pieces . I thought it was normal, the Tonnara is not more than 50 meters and over the years had accumulated those fragments and shards.
With time, sharpening the view, among the fragments I began to notice more identifiable parts, necks, handles and amphorae tips.
I'm not an underwater archaeologist but over the years I have done many dives on archaeological sites and the type of fragments we could see on the site show a much older dating of the structure of Tonnara.
When you know what you are looking for everything is more : tips and necks of amphorae were poking out everywhere, unfortunately, often also disappeared and I take this opportunity to remind, as in the briefing, that is not a good idea to touch anything under water including probable archaeological finds.
A brief search on the internet has erased all my ambitions of "Discoverer of Drowned Treasures"
giving me all the information necessary to explain the origins of the artifacts.
Everything has much earlier origins then the Tonnara, Tonnara is indeed the continuation and final expression of a plant for the processing of fish that occupied the area centuries before, the oldest finds in fact date back to the end of the fourth century b.c. .
The ancient factories for fish processing and for the conservation of the product surpluses were careing to salting the fish and often care also about the preparation of a popular (at that time ... ..) fish sauce, the "Garum", Garum was composed by intestines mackerel or tuna, sometimes mixed with small whole fish, left to macerate, under the sun, in tanks with salt for about two months.
Remains of these tanks are still visible in the area surrounding the Tonnara's walls .
The “Tonnara” officially entered into operation in 1412 thanks to the royal permission for tuna fishing in the San Vito area, the building was quite different from what it looks like now, in following the mid-800, it was in fact extended and probably some of the ancient processing tanks for the "Garum" were destroied, at the expansion of activities has followed the decline and closure of the Tonnara on June 1965.