Piran – a city worth its salt
20.4.2018 | Fiona Thompson
How the did small coastal town of Piran become so important and grand? Why was it so attactive to the Venetians? The answer is: salt. A little down the Adriatic coast at Sečovlje, salt has been harvested for centuries and even today Piran salt and products made from it are still highly regarded. You can even have beauty treatments at spas and wellness centres that use Piran salt as the basis of their therapies.
A museum at Sečovlje traces the history of salt production in Slovenia and is open from March until the end of October but every year in April a special programme takes place that marks the special place of salt in the long history of Piran, among other events. The highlight is the symbolic departure of a salt worker and his family to the salt pans. In the past salt gathering was seasonal work and workers went there in the spring and summer to gather salt, and lived in small houses on the salt flats.
The pinky-white salt from PIran is known as salt flower (fleur de sel). It can only form on the surface of the water when there are no waves of ripples since the slightest disturbance will disperse it. It is gathered from the water’s surface using a special webbed spatula which allows workers to be very gentle.
Today Piran salt can be bought throughout Slovenia and even beyond so it is possible to enjoy it even if you can’t get to Piran. Branches of Piranske Soline can be found in several towns and cities, and products can also be bought in some supermarkets and from the gift shop at Ljubljana Airport. As well as pure salt and flavoured salts for cooking, you can buy chocolate flavoured with Piran salt, scented bath salt and salt body scrubs.
Now, you may be thinking “Salt is salt. What’s so special about Piran salt?” Actually Piran salt is so special that is has a special protection of designated origin which means that recognises that it is unique and that only salt from Piran can be described as such. The particular conditions that create Piran salt speak for its uniqueness and the particular makeup of the water at Sečovlje contribute to the salts flavour. All of this means that salt from Piran is in the noble company of such prestigious products as Parma ham,and champagne!