The southwest of Sardinia is characterized by mountains and the exploitation of mines around Iglesias and Carbonia and by lagoons and fishing industry around the islands of San Pietro and Sant'Antioco. Sardinian culture here has always been influenced by outsiders. This can be seen in the local specialities like couscous from north African origin, the architecture of Carbonia of the twenties and thirties of the previous century and sa Coia Maurreddina at Santadi, the moorish wedding.
Towns and villages of southwest Sardinia
The two main towns of the former province of Carbonia-Iglesias are the largest and most important, centers of the mining industry. Carbonia was given it's name in the twenties of the previous century because of the importance of coal (in italian carbone) for Italy. Iglesias was founded in the Middle Ages as Villa di Chiesa and renamed by the Spanish overlords Iglesias (Church). In Iglesias the old town walls can still be seen and it has a nice town center.
On the westcoast lie places like Nebida, Masua and Buggerru where the mining industry has left it's traces in abandoned structures and old mines, some of these are now visitable as a tourist attraction like the Henry mine in Buggerru. The English played an important part in the mining industry in the nineteenth and twentieth century, as they did in the costruction of the railways on the island.
The town of Sant'Antioco originates from a trading post in the sixth century BC by the name of Sulki and became an important town in the Roman period. In the Middle Ages the town took the name of one of the first christian marters, Saint Antiochus. The town is now the most important fishermen's port of the southwest and there are still visible remains of the punic-roman period, de early christian catacombs under the church of Sant'Antioco and there is an important archaeological museum.
From Calasetta the ferry connects the island of San Pietro to the mainland. This island, with the main town of Carloforte, has a strong north-African-Genuese character, because of the Genuese that fled the island of Tabarchino under the African coast. In the fertile region of the Sulcis to the east of Carbonia places like Tratalias, Giba, Villaperuccio, Santadi and Sant'Anna Aresi can be found.
Local events and happenings
Every year there are recurring events around patron saints of the towns and villages, but also other interesting events. In Sant'Antioco every year the feast of the patron Sant'Antioco is organized that spans several days with a long procession in the town in traditional costumes, horse games with riders that show off their abilities.
Another event is that of the Moorish wedding, sa Coia Maurreddina, in Santadi, the first Sunday of august. Here a real wedding is celebrated in traditional style with cooperation of the entire town. Bride and groom are accompanied by a procession in traditional costumes and music. Probably the origin is to be found in the period of the saracen incursions in Sardinia.
On the island of San Pietro at Carloforte every year the Girotonno is held, an event that has it's origin in the tunafishing. It is mainly a gastronomic event with music and dance.
Typical products and artisans
In fact local produce of Carloforte and on the opposite side Calasetta on the island of Sant'Antioco is based on fish, tuna, and the forementioned couscous. But the southwest is also reknowned for one of the finest wines, the Carignano del Sulcis. This superior wine is produced among others in the Cantina of Santadi and the origin is protected with the label DOC.
Of particular interest is the artisan workshop and small museum of the Bissus in Sant'Antioco. Here Chiara Vigo, the only person allowed to work this precious material obtained from the protected seashells (Pinna Nobilis), weaves and embroiders beautiful tapestry. With her impelling style she will tell visitors all about her life and work with bissus.
The small ethnografic museum of Sant'Antioco contains probably all tools that the Sardinians have used in the course of the centuries for their daily work, from agriculture to the baking of bread at home. The museum obtained al objects thanks to the donations of the population, which makes it also their favourite museum.