In the afternoon, we leave the Temple of Antas. The road snakes through pristine countryside with just the odd shepherd hut. The mountains are covered with forests of cork and holm oak as well as heather from which the granite peaks seem to emerge. It feels and looks remote and far from our expectations of Sardinia.
The village of Fluminimaggoire, at which we arrive just after lunch, is set in the fertile valley of the river Mannu. Surrounding and enclosing this quiet place, Monte Linas. Shame cause we found a pizzeria with a metre long pizza!
We follow the signs for a camper service point, which leads us to a small supermarket. Sure enough tucked in the back corner of the supermarket car park a camper full service set up (watch out for the signs). Craig fills Vin with fresh water and ditches our black and grey, whilst I nip inside the supermarket. Its a bit disorganised with ageing stock but I manage to find a bottle of Sardinian beer for Craig.
A stroll through the village and it leaves us feeling like life seems hard for most people here. As we wander through the main street everybody makes do with very little. Forty years ago this was a thriving mining community but now most folk lull around all day. Work other than in the fields is limited. Some villagers are annoyed by closing of the mines whilst others get on with life. Its a very mixed bag of feelings and not only can we can sense it but we can see it. Paintings of their life over the last 100 years or so are dotted around the village.
The smooth tarmac road to Arbus meanders along country lanes, it is a peaceful. We notice lots of “divieto di caccia” signs nailed to cork trees and olive trees. Its the only sign that these lands are owned. Translated it means hunting is banned but we suspect it really means no hunter gathering from the trees. Although a mile or two further along, a dead fox and bullet holes in the road sign suggest otherwise.
The town of Arbus can been seen from miles away. Once a quaint village of granite houses, it is now a sprawl of multicoloured homes that wind up the hillside. The houses huggle together as if they are snuggling in to protect each other against the cold. I have no idea what winter is like here but I get a feeling it is cold and bleak.
It is mid afternoon and as we wind up the narrow road, the streets are deserted. Its only when we reach the top of the town we discover why. We pass a funeral. A large procession, led by a group of men dressed head to foot in gowns. They are carrying the coffin through the street towards the graveyard. The sheer volume of people indicates this is a close community and a well respected member.
At the peak of Arbus hill the views towards Guspini are wild and beautiful. Overlooking the flat and fertile Campidano plain and backed by the gradually rising foothills of Monte Arcuentu. Our drive through miles of charred cork plantations is a stark reminder how hot and dry this island can get.
Half an hour’s drive from the village of Guspini there is an abandoned coal mine. This surprising, is not as ghostly or elaborate as the mines in and around Porto Flavia. Montevecchio Mine is a singular place indeed. A Lancashire coal pit village in the middle of a mountain range.
Once the largest mine in Europe until the 1950s. The state of abandon, the padlocked gate and the lack of people suggest its now closed to visitors. We drive up to the residential village of Montevecchio, but the feeling of abandonment is the same. The town hall square is ghostly and but for the flapping of washing hanging from window sills and the smell broiled cabbage you would say the village like the mine, is deserted.