Discovering the wonders of Sardinia

Here are some tips on must-see destinations during a trip to Sardinia.

The Nuraghe of Barumini

The Su Nuraxi archaeological site, located a few kilometres from the town, is the most famous example of a nuraghe, a defensive complex characteristic of the Nuragic civilisation. An archaeological excursion to the Nuraghe of Barumini is an unmissable opportunity to discover the real Sardinia. The site is in a strategic position, on high ground overlooking a broad, fertile plain. Its construction dates back to the Bronze Age, and its preservation status is excellent. The nuraghe consists of a central tower, 18.60 metres high, to which three other towers are attached. The central tower is divided into three floors, and there are numerous rooms inside. The other towers are connected by curtain walls. The Su Nuraxi archaeological site is surrounded by an extensive nuragic village, which includes huts, silos and other buildings. The village was inhabited by thousands of people, and bears witness to the richness and complexity of the Nuragic civilisation. The site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is an important record of the history and culture of Sardinia.

Porto Flavia

A unique work of engineering, Porto Flavia is located in the hamlet of Masua, in the territory of Iglesias. The port was built between 1922 and 1924, and allowed the direct loading of minerals extracted from the Masua and Nebid mines The project was designed by the Venetian engineer Cesare Vecelli and the work was carried out by over 1,000 miners. Porto Flavia is a grandiose work, suspended halfway up a rock face. The port is made up of two superimposed tunnels which open directly onto the sea. The minerals were loaded in the upper tunnel and were then transported to the lower tunnel via a conveyor belt. From there, the minerals were loaded onto steamers using a moving arm. Porto Flavia was fundamental to the development of the mining industry in Sardinia. The masterpiece made it possible to reduce the time and costs of transporting minerals, rendering them more competitive on the international market.

Montevecchio mine

Montevecchio is a mining complex in Medio Campidano province located in the territory of Arbus and Guspini. It was one of the most important centres of the extractive industry in south-west Sardinia. Today it is part of the Sardinia Geomining Park, a UNESCO heritage site. The history of Montevecchio begins in 1848 when King Carlo Alberto granted exploitation of the area to Giovanni Antonio Sanna. The mining activity was immediately very profitable, and the mine had over 1,000 workers. Montevecchio was a centre of technological innovation. The first mining railway in Sardinia was inaugurated in 1870 and the first steam engine for the extraction of minerals was installed in 1890. The Montevecchio mine experienced a period of great splendour until the 1960s. Subsequently, due to the crisis in the mineral market, mining activity was gradually reduced until its definitive end in 1991. Today, Montevecchio is an industrial archaeology site. The mining complex has been restored and opened to the public and offers visitors a unique experience of discovering a world that has now disappeared.

Tharros the sunken city

Tharros is an archaeological site located on the Sinis peninsula, in Sardinia. The ruins of this ancient city that was founded in the 8th century BC and abandoned in the 11th century AD, testify to over two millennia of history. The site is an important archaeological centre and hosts the remains of diverse civilizations that followed one another over the centuries. The oldest remains are those of the Nuragic village, dating back to the Bronze Age. Tharros was subsequently inhabited by the Phoenicians, who transformed it into an important commercial emporium. In the Carthaginian era, the city became a military fortress. In Roman times, Tharros was a thriving city, and was the seat of an important colony. In the Byzantine era, Tharros was the capital of the island. In the Arborea era, Tharros was the capital of Giudicato di Arborea.

Serbariu mine in Carbonia – Coal museum

Located a few kilometres from Carbonia, the Serbariu mining site is an important testimony to this extractive activity. The site was active from 1937 to 1964 and covered an area of 33 hectares. It included nine extraction wells and one hundred kilometres of tunnels. The miners’ work was difficult and dangerous. To extract coal, miners had to go deep, often in precarious conditions. The tunnels were narrow and dark, and the air was unbreathable. The story of Carbonia and its mining site is told in the Coal Museum that was inaugurated in 2006. Housed in a renovated building, the museum offers an immersive journey into the life of the miners. The visit begins in the lamp room, where it is possible to admire a rich collection of mining lamps. It then continues into the tunnels, where it is possible to see the tools and equipment used by the miners. The museum also has a section dedicated to the history of Carbonia, with photographs, documents, and period films.

Henry Tunnel Buggerru

This is the icon of the mining era of Buggerru, a picturesque coastal village in the south-west of Sardinia: once you pass through the tunnel, you will be confronted with an extraordinary view of the blue sea. An intricate labyrinth of tunnels carved into the rock is dramatically presented, offering breathtaking views of the south-western coast of the island. A visit to the Henry tunnel, now made safe and accessible by advance booking, becomes a true journey through time inside the famous and successful Pranu Sartu mine in Buggerru. On the outward journey, a picturesque electric train follows the route of the old steam railway, while the return journey takes place on foot along the impressive ‘pedestrian’ tunnel, once travelled by pack mules. The walkways carved into the rock follow the entire cliff, with dark stretches interrupted from time to time by light from huge windows cut into the mountain face, overlooking the sea. The most spectacular view is revealed at the end of the walk: you will look out 50 metres above sea level, enjoying a breathtaking vista overlooking the coast and the buildings of the village.

Villa Siotto Sarroch

Villa Siotto represents an important chapter in the recent history of Sarroch, having been commissioned between 1907 and 1912 by one of the members of the prestigious Siotto family of Cagliari: the lawyer Giuseppe Siotto, known among the Sarroquois as Don Pepicu. Made up of three distinct elements – the Villa, the Appurtenances and the Park – the Siotto agricultural company has origins which date back to the second half of the nineteenth century, when it was founded by Luigi Siotto, father of Giuseppe Siotto Pintor. The Appurtenances, originally a series of buildings linked to the company’s main activities, have been completely restored. The Park, covering approximately 11 hectares, is home to rare botanical species. The position of the Villa is particularly evocative, located on a hill with the front elevation facing the town. After the death of Giuseppe Siotto Pintor’s last heir, the Municipality of Sarroch acquired the Villa, the Appurtenances and the photographic collection of Giuseppe Siotto Pintor, which immortalised the family members and the workers of the agricultural company. The photographic exhibition is located on the top floor of the Villa and presents 326 photographs which represent the region of Sarroch, moments of daily life of the Siotto family, their employees and the community of the town. The collection, made up of a total of 1251 photos, was entirely purchased by the Municipality of Sarroch.

The Court in Giorgino or Villa Ballero

Art that passes from the mind, to the hand, to the heart: this is craftsmanship. Tools, accessories and everyday objects become creative adornments for living. The transition between the idea and the artefact is a magical moment that marks the relationship between man and things, and is called “craftsmanship”. Modern Sardinian craftsmanship is the child of history and tradition, the result of techniques handed down from father to son, from master to apprentice, from the past to the future.

Pinuccio Sciola’s Giardino Sonoro (Sound Garden)

In San Sperate, a few kilometres from Cagliari, is Pinuccio Sciola’s Giardino Sonoro, a contemporary art park famous for its sound-emitting sculptures. ‘My sculptures are here for now, where I planted them so that they would take root and come back to life. Some day, I don’t know when, I hope they will return to the Universe that made them”. Today, many of these sculptures are gathered in the Giardino Sonoro, Sardinia’s first public art park. Sciola’s sound sculptures, which have toured the world and continue to do so despite the artist’s death in 2016, are also used as real musical instruments in concerts. The idea behind these works is to involve not only the sense of sight or touch, but also the sense of hearing, representing the sound power of the earth. The Giardino Sonoro is a place for art that is expressed in many languages of the world, where stone sculptures produce ancestral and mystical sounds, creating an immersive experience that allows visitors to appreciate Art and Nature in a new dimension.

Villa D’Orri

Located in Sarroch near Cagliari, the noble residence of the Manca Marquises of Villahermosa is famous for having welcomed illustrious historical figures such as Carlo Felice of Savoy and his wife Maria Cristina of Bourbon. The villa retains much of its original furnishings and preserves precious memories and treasures linked to the period of the Savoy exile in Sardinia (1799-1814). It represents the only “royal villa” in Sardinia and is surrounded by a lush park enriched by various tree species and majestic specimens of Ficus Magnoliodes. Together with its collections and appurtenances, and the park, the villa has been officially recognized by the Ministry for Cultural and Environmental Heritage for its significant historical and architectural value as a monumental complex. Particularly noteworthy is the Chapel dedicated to the Virgin of Carmel, which has a notable connection with the feast of Sant’Efisio.

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