Iconic Sugarloaf Island & Porto Flavia 16 Comments

We wake early and immediately check Mac to see if he is alright. He is full of morning wiggles, sneezes and kisses, which suggests he is feeling fine. Tosh leaps from the chair and steels the lime light. The lump which is about the size of a large egg has not changed since last night. Outside the natural light shows the extent of the lump, it looks bloody huge.

The car park location is fantastic and leads you right on to a sandy beach, perfect. Unfortunately, the parking bays are a bit small in both width and length.  We do not mind paying for two bays but the shape of the car park means we’d more than likely get damaged or cause an issue once the car park starts to fill up. With that we head over towards sugarloaf island. If you look at the photo below you can see the edge of the cliff is actually an island.

The corniche road from Funtanamare to Masua over looks the Gulf of Gonnesa. The 8 mile journey follows a wild, wiggly and splendid coastline. With every twist and turn revealing more of the dramatic, secluded coast and coves. At Masua, you are greeted by the abandoned mine which is completely camouflaged by the sand and dust. Its here the tarmac road ceases but continue (slowly) along the bumpy unpaved road for another half a mile.

Tucked in the crevice of the rock, a small sosta with multiple parking terraces and direct access to a tiny beach cove. At €20 for 24 hours including services (no drinking water) its a bit pricey but the location is worth it. 

Our Bumble paid motorhome sosta at Masua GPS position: N039.333986, E008.420444

Mac is on strict orders to rest his paws, so we leave him in Vin whilst we take a walk. Tosh keeps him company and takes on nursing duties, which his does with pleasure in return for a pigs ear treat. We leave them happily munching.

The white sandy beach cove is quaint with part of the old mine building still remaining. Our walk over the headland takes us to Porto Flavia and great views of the unmistakable sugarloaf island (Pan di Zucchero). This white shaped rock stands 132 metre from the sea and its unique shape is very intriguing.

This whole area is at the heart of Sardinia mining industry and the coastal landscape has been deeply scarred by mine working. The ancient rock formations have left the island rich in silver, copper, coal, iron, lead and zinc. In 19th and 20th century the prosperous mines stood like citadels. Amongst a farming community but now a days they lie abandoned.

Porto Flavia overlooks the south west coast and was built in 1923. Built by Cesare Vecelli and named after his daughter, Flavia. The 600 metre long tunnel, entirely mined in the rock, comes out over a cliff. Here you can see the peculiar port suspended between the sea and the sky. It is unique in its design and was built purely to improve production. Prior to Flavia, sailors moved ore by wicker baskets it was costly, slow and dangerous. The mines design improved steamship loading time and cost. Here, the sea was deep enough and well-protected from wind and waves to allow a safe mooring, while the ore could be loaded from the cliffs by gravity.

You can just see the port building at the edge of the mainland rock

The train brought the ore to the loading hatches of the reservoirs. While in the lower tunnel the unloading hatches fed the ore to the conveyor belt leading to the ships. Construction took only two years, ending in 1924. A remarkably short period of time for a work of that size. The ends of the tunnels facing the sea were adorned with concrete towers and decorative nameplates. They were not necessary to the operation, but were asked to be constructed by the owner of the company as a mark of prestige. 

When Porto Flavia became operative in 1924, it slashed ore production costs by up to 70 percent. This allowed Veille Montaigne to gain a strong market share in a very short time. The construction of Porto Flavia paid for itself in under two years and was considered a technical marvel. Other mine operators were not allowed to use the tunnel and harbour, They had to relying on manual labor or on longer railway routes. Porto Flavia’s interest started to decline in the 1960s and it was closed in the 1990s when mineral production in Masua ceased. Today, it is owned by IGEA SpA, a public company charged with the restoration and preservation of the old mining plants.

We arrive back and Mac n Tosh are snoozing away. Today, its a tad over cast and breezy, so the cool air is a nice change especially for dogs. His lump is still the same but after several needle jabs and prods and pokes, its probably going to take several days to calm down. Disguised in a bit of cheese I feed Mac his tablet, it doesn’t even touch the sides.

After dinner, I take them both for a gentle walk to the beach to watch the sunset over sugarloaf island.


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