Due to popular demand (well, like two or three people were interested in understanding what this post was about) I’m going to launch an experiment, today’s post is an English translation of the one I published a few days ago. And we all know recycling is good for the environment so let’s reuse the blog post!
Today I’m taking you on a visit inside a mountain. Put your hard hat on and remember to keep it on during the entire visit because stones could fall down inside the mine tunnel. Ok, take down your lamp from the hook (remember where you take it, it has to be hung back where you took it so that the boss can see that everyone has come back out at the end of the shift) and get ready for a visit in one of the mines in the Sulcis area.
It’s a bit dark here at the beginning, but just take it easy, your eyes will soon get used to the darkness. For the time being you can follow the sound of “the bride”. Yes, you know, the drill. The mineworkers spend more time holding the drill than their own girlfriends, hence the nickname.
Let’s go further in, let me know if you notice that the lamp light gets weaker or if you hear noise from the wooden framework in the tunnel. Those are signs that mean we must rush out. But for now everything seems to be going alright. Let’s sit over there with the guys, looks like it’s time for the lunch break. Did you bring a piece of bread? During a 14-hour work day it can be nice with a short break to eat something. The guys who sit here are veterans, they’ve been working in the mines since they were eight years old.
Now we’d better help to load stone into the baskets and carry them out, it’s almost time to leave the tunnel to let the blaster do his job. Is there any room left in your basket? No? Pick it up then and carry it out to the train. Ok then, now it’s time to start walking home. I’m happy it isn’t snowing today, it means we’ll be home in about an hour if everything goes well!
Well, of course as a visitor you don’t have to risk your life nor carry stone when visiting the mine port of Porto Flavia. It is however both interesting, instructive and thought-provoking. During the visit the local guides explain with knowledge and passion what the mining industry has meant in both positive and negative terms for the southwest of Sardinia and its people. And believe it or not, when you see the light at the end of the tunnel (because Porto Flavia is something as unusual as a port system constructed inside a mountain), you’ll be greeted by a fabulously striking view of the sea and the rock Pan di Zucchero.
To spend a few words on the mining industry, the deposits in this area were known already by the Romans. They were assiduously exploited throughout the centuries and the area with the town of Iglesias as its centre prospered. Eventually mining in the area wasn’t economically profitable anymore so the minery giants closed down and left the area to its own devices.
So why does Den gröna turisten think that an old mine is a sustainable alternative when looking for holiday activities? Well, in an area where job opportunities practically disappeared at a single stroke they’re now trying to invest in tourism. The old closed mines perhaps can recontribute to create opportunities to the people living here. An important part of the local history is kept inside these tunnels and it’s definitely worth the effort learning more about it and keeping it for the generations to come.
I was happy to read the other day that the geopark with the mines ahs been added to the Unesco network for geoparks. Go Iglesias! Hopefully that will contribute to more people discovering this part of Sardinia so that the people living there can see the light at the end of the economic tunnel too… Southwestern Sardinia has so much more to offer the visitor than just sun and sany beaches. Even though the beaches in the area aren’t bad either…