A voyage to Sardinia 2011. Part 2 Sulcis
Typical for the southwest of Sardinia are the activities of mining in the Sulcis-Iglesiente and fishing on the islands of San Pietro and Sant'Antioco. Ever since prehistoric times the presence of these natural resources, and the relative fertile but small plains, have favoured human settlement. For the bronze age this can be deduced from the large number of towers, nuraghi, and bronze age settlements, and in the early Iron age from the arrival of the Phoenicians and the Carthaginians in search of raw materials, mainly metal ores. However rich the plains are in evidence of pre- and protohistoric settlement, the mountainranges and valleys have never been densely populated. Now that most mining activity has passed well beyond its glory days the remains of the buildings contribute to the fact that the area, and in particular the coast to the west of Iglesias, can be counted among the most picturesque of Sardinia.
archaeological museum. We hadn't been there since the nineties, the museum has been newly built with modern displays to show the finds of Sant'Antioco and Monte Sirai, mainly phoenician-punic but also some roman and bronze age artefacts. Behind the museum lies the tophet, visitable only with a guide. After that we visited the punic graves and the Sabaudian fortress Su Pisu on the top of the hill. That evening there was a procession in honour of the saint with many folkloristic groups in traditional costumes, carts drawn by oxen and riders on horseback. Ofcourse the statue of the saint himself closed the procession.
Monte Sirai. Before the site opened at ten o'clock two buses stopped and a large number of schoolchildren stepped down. This meant there was nobody left to guide us when we entered (we left the kids enter first) so we had to visit the site on our own. The archaeological site consists of an acropolis with punic-roman remains, a punic gravefield with chambers, and a tophet with a smal temple structure. The most important grave could not be visited without a guide so we had to ask someone afterwards to open it for us. The guide was most helpful and I was able to make some pictures on the inside.
Pan di Zucchero. Everywhere abandoned factories remind of the glory time of mining and these have now become part of the scenery. By creating a geominerary park these buildings are kept as part of the historical heritage of Iglesias. Beyond Buggerru it is possible to reach Scivu and then return to the road that runs from Iglesias to Arbus that we travelled a few years ago. However we deiced to return from Buggerru back along the coast and visited shortly the beach of Cala Domestica, a picturesque bay dominated by white sandy dunes and a spanish watchtower.
After this visit we continued to Santadi where the natural caves of Is Zuddas are. These caves have almost every type of stalagmites and stalagtites you can find in the most fantastic conformations. Some of these stalactites grow in any direction without an apparent reason. We were surrounded by abother group of schoolchildren who could not believe their eyes and one of them even suggested this must have been created by extraterrestrial life.
nuraghe, nuragic village and nuragic well on their lands. After that he took us to the necropolis on the other side of San Giovanni Suergiu, in a region called Is Loccis (the holes). The municipality had not yet freed the area from the knee-high vegetation so we had to stroll through the grass to the various graves, which turned out to be as beautiful as the site of Montessu. On top of the hill are the remains of another nuraghe and you could look out as far as the hill of Monte Sirai in the north and to the town of Sant'Antioco in the south. The nuraghe itself was overgrown and almost invisible, as most of these structures are.
After the visit at the museum of Byssus we found the basilica open. Under the basilica there are extended catacombs in part obtained by reusing the punic grave chambers of Sulki (ancient Sant'Antioco). It was not permitted to take pictures there (it's a cemetery), but it was worthwhile the effort to return to Sant'Antioco to see this. The basilica itself is hidden behind the old municipality that was built in front of it. The ethnografic museum on the other hand is a cute museum with many objects used in daily life by the Sardinians until some decades ago (or even now are still being used). Much of it has been donated by the people of Sant'Antioco and the museum puts everything they have on display.
After this second visit to Sant'Antioco we passed by Tratalias, the old village that had been abandoned in favour of a newer location. At Tratalias there is an important medieval church similar to that of San Pietro di Sorres. In all we have seen a lot of southwest Sardinia and we didn't even see everything, such as the famous coalmines of Carbonia or the beaches of Porto Pino or the great nuraghe of Seruci. There is still something left on our list to return there and to visit.