Sardegna West Coast: Part 6 The Costa delle Miniere (continued)

Published on:  | Last updated: 12 March 2018

Nebida - the SP83 coast road heading south

Nebida: the SP83 coast road heading south

At a glance

Distance

77 kms (excluding the loop to Porto Flavia)

Difficulty/​terrain

Moderate. This is the most challenging section of the route with a couple of climbs to over 400 metres altitude.

Traffic

Quiet roads

Surfaces

The section starts with the unsur­faced road from Piscinas, but after this it is on surfaced roads.

Overview

This section of the route continues along the costa delle miniere (mining coast). It includes perhaps the most dramatic stretch of coast road on the whole island. The section ends at Portovesme where you catch the ferry for Carloforte - arguably Sardegna's prettiest and most inter­esting town.

Highlights

  • the Porto Flavia. One of three mining sites in the area, its an example of an ingenious response to the challenges of the landscape, and an extraordinary location. It's also the most convenient to visit
  • the belvedere at Nebida once part of the rail line built for the nearby mine, it now offers a viewpoint over a spectacular stretch of coastline
  • Carloforte

Beaches

Along this stretch there are some of the island's most beautiful beaches.

  • Portixeddu (Spiaggia di Buggerru)
  • Cala Domestica
  • Fontanamare near Nebida

There's also a nice little beach at Masua which you could combine with a visit to the Porto Flavia.

Map and altitude profile

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Distances
Piscinas - Buggeru 37 kms
Buggeru - Nebida 20 kms
Nebida - Portovesme (for Carloforte) 21 kms

Route description

Piscinas to Nebida

The climb back up from Piscinas is fairly gentle. As you come to the top of the climb. Look out on the right-hand side for the cork oaks. You can tell which ones they are by the fact that the bark of the lower part of the tree is darker, showing where, in the past, it was cut away. Producing cork was once a major activity in Sardegna, but it has also gone into decline with the use of plastic stoppers and screw tops for wine. You can see a group of cork oaks on the round­about at the junction with the SS126.

Turn right at the junction, following the signs for Iglesias and Fluminimaggiore. There's a nice relaxed stretch on the SS126 before the road starts to climb again towards the Passo Bidderdi (462m according to my GPS, and 492m according to the signs).

From the pass, there is then a cracking descent down into towards the sea on a road that offers some dramatic views. At the bridge over the Rio Mannu turn right following the signs for Buggerru. The new road is the SP83. This follows the river down to the beach at Portixeddu.

SS126 descending towards Portixeddu

SS126 descending towards Portixeddu

Buggerru

The next town on the road is the old mining town of Buggerru, which, as I am sure you'll be wondering, is pronounced with a soft 'g' or a 'j' sound (so more like the French bouger or English budge and defin­itely not with a hard 'g'.

The road reaches the coast at the Portixeddu (Spiaggia di Buggerru/​Spiaggia San Nicolao) another set of beautiful sand dunes and a pretty beach with fine sand. As you pass the beach at Buggerru you can see the cliffs of the headlands before you as the coast becoming more jagged and rockier.

Dunes at Portixeddu

Dunes at Portixeddu

The initial approach into Buggerru is pretty unattractive but the village itself is much nicer.

Buggerru is, or was, a mining town, and was the scene of bitter conflicts between miners and the mining companies: miners were poorly paid and the work was dangerous; they had to shop in company shops, and even had to pay oil for their lamps and for water. In 1904 the shooting of three miners during a demon­stration in front of the companies offices sparked a nation-wide general strike.

Today the major remains of the mine are the Galleria Henry. A tunnel built to carry the ore from the mine to the washing plant a kilometre away before the construction of the tunnel, the ore had to be carried by mule. If you visit you get to ride on the little trenino as it threads its way along, and through, the cliffs. The galleria is open from Monday to Friday between 9:00 and 13.00. If you want to reserve a place on one of the guided visits you have to phone (+39 0781 491300 or +39 388 932 3529) . Check times and prices: igeaspa.it.

The initial climb out of Buggerru was hard going —but that might just have been the effects of lunch. It defin­itely seemed to get easier after the bend in the road. The views from the top from the Punto Panoramico make up for the effort.

After the climb out of Buggerru the road levels out, and the section where you can see as far as the Isola San Pietro. The road descends from the altopiano, at the bottom there is a turning for the beach at Cala Domestica. Set in a horseshoe-shaped cove, with a watchtower (of course), it's one of the one of the most famous and photo­graphed beaches in the area. From the pictures it looks lovely, and it isn't a partic­u­larly long detour if you have time.

At the top of the climb there are sections that are signed as 10%. But looking on the bright side you could have come from the other side where there are signs saying it is 13% (and I could believe it). This is defin­itely a dramatic stretch of road. The most dramatic moment is when, between the sides of the ravine, you get your first glimpse of the Pan di Zucchero, a 133-metre-high rock formation that juts out of the sea like a rocky iceberg.

The bend in the road brings you to Masua, and below is the mine. With wagons waiting to be loaded at the railed it looks as it might have looked on the day it was closed and abandoned.

Masua: the Pane e Zucchero with the disused mine in the foreground

Masua: the Pane e Zucchero with the disused mine in the foreground

Porto Flavia

Masua is the location for another of the areas mining historic sites, the Porto Flavia. The tunnel was built in 1924 to enable the ore to be loaded directly into the hold of sea-going ships —before that the ore, in wicker baskets, was loaded on the beach into small boats that then sailed to Carloforte where it was then loaded onto ships.

Show more about the Porto Flavia

The Porto Flavia consists of two tunnels –one about 20 metres above the other– with silos excavated from the rock between them. The ore would be carried by a trenino in the upper tunnel and loaded into the silos. When a ship arrived the silo would empty the ore onto a conveyor belt in the lower tunnel which would lead to the hold of the ship. The opening of the Porto revolu­tionised the fortunes of the mine: cutting costs by 70 percent. There's a very good wikipedia article about the history and construction: en.wikipedia.org: Porto Flavia.

If you're wondering, the Porto Flavia is named after Flavia Vecelli the daughter of Cesare Vecelli the engineer responsible for designing and building the tunnel.

Masua: Porto Flavia

Masua: Porto Flavia

The Porto also offers a fabulous view of the Pan di Zucchero.

If you want to see the Porto Flavia you'll need to turn off the main road and head down to the beach and then follow the signs - the entrance is another 2 kilometres further on along a dirt road. The site complex is open every day. You can only visit as part of a guided visits. During the week these are at 9.30, 10.30, 11.30, and 12.30. At weekends there are additional visits at 14:30 15:30 and 16.30. You can turn up without reser­vation, but a reser­vation is probably a good idea. It's easy to make reser­va­tions by emailing the helpful tourist office in Iglesias (+39 0781 274 507 tourist office at iglesiasinfoturistiche@comune.iglesias.ca.it). The office is open 10:00 – 12:00 and 16:00 – 20.00 (closed on Sundays).

There's a campsite at the beach. The facil­ities are basic but you can eat at the beach bar. It's open from April until October.

View from the Belvedere di Nebida - sunset

View from the Belvedere di Nebida - sunset

From Masua there's then a short climb to Nebida (175m). Even if you decide to give the Porto Flavia a miss, the belvedere at Nebida is a must-see. Originally constructed for mining opera­tions, the belvedere is a circular walkway that goes round the cliffside. It's open all the time and it's free. It offers superb views over the Pan di Zucchero and the other cliffs, as well as the remains of the Laveria La Marmora which has become almost an icon for the area.

Nebida to Carloforte

At Nebida it's time to leave behind the costa delle miniere. There are two options: you could continue following the coast, or you could head for Portovesme (Portoscuso) and take the ferry to Carloforte the Isola di San Piero one of the two islands off the coast — the other is the Isola di Sant'Antioco.

The descent from Nebida is as dramatic a stretch of road as I've encountered anywhere in either Italy or Corsica. Eventually it comes to an end at a beach, the Spiaggia Fontanamare, a huge expanse of almost-deserted pale golden sand.

The road than heads inland skirting round expanse of wetland before rejoining the SS126. Turn right following the signs for Carbonia and Iglesias as the road heads south skirting round Gonnesa. A little further on you come to a round­about with a pizzeria on the corner, continue straight on and at the next junction turn right following the signs for Portovesme.

This new road is the SP108, it climbs to the altitude of about 125m before starting a long enjoyable cruise down towards the coast at Portoscuso/​Portovesme. Soon the red-and-white chimneys of Portoscuso come into view, and the surrounding them what seems like a small thicket of wind turbines (I counted 36). At the round­about follow the signs for the porto. As you come into the car park in the port the Stazione Marittima (ferry terminal) and ticket office is to your right. The quayside is to your left.

The single fare (andante solo) for me and my bike was 6.50€. The journey takes about 40 minutes. You can check the ferry times on the Delcomar website: delcomar.it: Tratte e Orari.

Options

You could also stay on the SS126 and continue on to Fluminimaggiore rather than turning off to Portixeddu. The SS126 continues on to Iglesias with its medieval centro storico. A couple of kilometres off the road is the Tempio di Antas (Temple of Antas).

The Laveria Lamarmora at Nebida (washing plant for separating the metal ore)

The Laveria Lamarmora at Nebida (washing plant for separ­ating the metal ore)

More information

Places to stay

Hotels and B&Bs

This stretch of coast is a little off the tourist track so accom­mod­ation options are a bit limited. Fortunately the tourist inform­ation site for the area has a useful accom­mod­ation search engine: sulcisiglesiente.eu: accom­mod­ation.

One accom­mod­ation option you might want to bear in mind is the Agriturismo Sa Rocca on the SP83 before you get to Nebida.

Find and book places to stay with Booking.com

Booking.com pages for places on this section of the route:

About these links

If you use these links to book accom­mod­ation Booking.com will pay me a small part of their commission. This helps support the costs of producing this site.

I use Booking.com to find and book places to stay when there are no campsites in the area. The large majority of hotels and many hostels are now on ‘Booking’. I like it because it means that I can get almost-instant confirm­ation. The rating system is also a reliable guide to the quality of the accom­mod­ation.

I’ve never had a problem finding places to keep my bike —even if it’s a cupboard or store room. I always use the ‘special requests’ field on the booking form to tell the hotel that I’m travelling with a bike, which gives them the oppor­tunity to let me know if there’s a problem.

Many properties offer free cancel­lation but it’s a good idea to check the condi­tions as these vary from property to property.

Campsites

There are a couple of campsites on this stretch of coast.

On the way to Buggerru I passed the campsite Ortus Di Mari. It doesn't have its own website, but there's a page on the tourist inform­ation website for the area: sulcisiglesiente.eu: Campeggio Ortus di Mari.

There's also a campsite at the Masua beach: the Nuova Colonia. Its main business is campervans, but it also accepts tents. The facil­ities are basic, but you can eat at the beach bar. It's open from April until October.

  Campsites map:  FT-Sardegna-West-Coast-campsites-map
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Transport and services

Transport

There are train stations at Iglesias and Carbonia —both are fairly close to the route.

Services

I lucked out in finding a couple of good restaurants:

  • La Privilegiata ristorante in Buggerru
  • and the Ristorante Dal Capitano in Nebida (+39 0781 47076).

There's a bar-ristorante on the belvedere: the 906 Operaio (+39 338 916 5388) and another ristorante in Nebida — the Oasi Belvedere.

Resources

Tourist information websites

Other tourism resources

Ferries

Raviolini di Mare - Ristorante La Privilegiata Buggerru

Raviolini di Mare - Ristorante La Privilegiata Buggerru

Articles in this series

Sign on a disused depot near the Passo Bidderdi

Sign on a disused maintenance depot near the Passo Bidderdi


Get in touch

Please get in touch if you find any errors in the information, or if there’s anything, good or bad, that you’d want other cyclists to know.

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