The mountainrange of the Iglesiente on the Sardinian west coast is one of the most inaccessible and least densely populated territories. The Monte Linas, with 1236m, is the highest peak followed by the Monte Lissone (1094m) and the Monte Arcuentu (785m). From antiquity the territory was reknowned for the metal ores, lead and silver, and in the nineteenth century for the rich coalmines. In fact one of the old roman roads passes right through this mountainrange, connecting a number of important places. This roman road is mentioned in the Itinerarium Antonini, a latin manuscript, it starts in Castelsardo in the north of Sardinia and runs across the entire island down to Sant'Antioco (Sulcis) in the south: the via a Tibulas Sulcis. Important places along the road were Bosa, Santa Giusta (Othoca), Santa Maria di Nabui (Neapolis), Fluminimaggiore (Metalla) and the temple of Antas. The itinerary described in this article follows part of this roman road from Oristano, passing through Arbus, down to Iglesias, and passed two sites that deserve a visit: the mines of Montevecchio and the aforementioned temple of Antas. The itinerary finishes in Cagliari and as alternative route from Oristano to Cagliari it is a pleasant panoramic ride, even if it takes more time than the more direct SS131 Carlo Felice.
Ofcourse it is not necessary to follow the complete route as described here. It is possible to deviate at any point to go to the beautiful beaches of the Costa Verde or to go to the panoramic coast near Buggerru or even to visit Monte Sirai (Carbonia) or Sant'Antioco (the antique Sulcis) instead of continuing the itinerary to Cagliari.
The first part of this itinerary goes from Oristano to the mining village of Montevecchio in two stages. It passes through the territory of Arborea, until the twenties of the previous century an area of unhealthy marshes, where malaria was a common disease. These marshes have been drained before the Second World war and nowadays it is a very fertile countryside and it has one of the most productive agricultural communities of Sardinia. Frisian pedigree cows produce milk for one of the largest dairy factories of Sardinia. Arborea was built in the twenties and thirties of the previous century and was formerly known under the name Mussolinia. The waterlevel is regulated through hydraulic pumps, just like the Dutch polders.
From Arborea, passing through the territory of Terralba, the itinerary proceeds to Guspini located at the feet of the mountainrange of the Iglesiente. From Guspini it follows a secondary road to the mining village of Montevecchio, in the middle of the forests on the slopes of the mountains. It is possible to visit one of the mines in Montevecchio, but you will have to make reservations by telephone first. From Montevecchio the secondary road will continue along the slopes of the Monte Arcuentu to the magnificent beaches of the Costa Verde. These beaches can also be reached using the bridge across the lagoon of San Giovanni near Marceddì.
However in the third part the itinerary returns to Guspini and follows the road up the mountains of the Iglesiente to Arbus. The road climbs the steep slope offering wide panoramic views of the below Campidano and even beyond to the mountainranges of inland Sardinia. Guspini and Arbus, reknowned for a typical knife with broad blade called arburese, are towns of the province of Medio Campidano. From Arbus the itinerary follows the orginal roman road down to Fluminimaggiore. All around the highland plain are the mountain peeks and the panoramic views are beautiful, especially in springtime with the blooming brushes of the macchia. Just before Fluminimaggiore a crossroad will lead to Buggerru on the westcoast while the itinerary continues to the left.
Fluminimaggiore, the Roman Metalla, is a small town in the middle of the mountains. There is a small museum of the territory. From this town it is not so far to the valley of the site of the temple of Antas. The provincial road is offers beautiful views of the country, it runs in part along the valley of the rio Antas. Indications show where to turn left to reach the visitors center of the temple. The archeological site includes the temple itself, dedicated to Sardus Pater, and the remains of a nuragic village. The surroundings with wooded slopes around the green valley are an ideal environment for long walks, for example to the caves of Su Mannau, a roman quarry and along parts of the original roman road. Itineraries are set out with clear indications and in the visitors centre more information can be obtained.
For the last part the itinerary proceeds from the temple of Antas to Cagliari, through the valley of the rio Cixerri. Ofcourse this can be changed to return to Oristano following the SS130 and the SS131 or to proceed to the site of Monte Sirai (Carbonia) and Sant'Antioco (former Sulki or Sulcis) or even to go to the southcoast, to Pula. The itinerary can also be inversed, starting at Cagliari and going north to Oristano.
Circumstances in reality can be different due to specific situations or changes on the roads. See also the disclaimer
Since prehistorical times mining has been one of the main industries in Sardinia. The Anglo-Sarda mine (Sant'Antonio) at Montevecchio has been transformed into a museum and the first level can be visited with an expert guide, one of the miners that worked there. It is the mine where my father in law has worked in his youth. At the heart of the district the building of the directors of the mines. There is also a small geological museum in the former hospital.
Not far from Fluminimaggiore, in the middle of a green valley in the mountains, lies the temple of Antas. Initially erected in the punic period it was restructured in roman times. The temple is located in the mining area and would have been dedicated to Sardus Pater, according to mythology assimilated with Hercules. The temple has been partly restored and there are nuragic graves and a settlement nearby.
Cagliari lies in the south of Sardinia and is the capital of the autonomous region Sardegna. There is an important university, the largest airport of Sardinia and the largest port. In antiquity the town was called Karales and even now there are still remains of the punic and roman period, like the punic graves on the hill of Tuvixeddu and the roman amphitheatre. The upper town with its towngates was built in the Middle Ages under Pisan rule but the most characteristic quarter near the port was built in the nineteenth century, the times of the Kongdom of Sardinia with Piedmont.
Oristano is the capital of the province of Oristano since 1974. In medieval times it played an important role in the history of the Judicates as the capital of the Judicate of Arborea. It has a picturesque historical center and during Carnival the characteristic event called the Sartiglia takes place in the streets of the town.