BIZARRE SARDINIA: PAN DI ZUCCHERO, THE HIGHEST ROCK OF THE MEDITERRANEAN
Many among you, that have been proud enough to circumnavigate Sardinia and visit the SW coast, have surely seen the majestic rock of Pan di Zucchero and the mysterious Porto Flavia. Not all of you are aware though that Pan di Zucchero is the highest rock of the Mediterranean with its 133 meters of high, a bit higher than the Capri’s Faraglioni (rock formation). Many of you were not aware also that Porto Flavia was a port for transport of minerals that was slowly abandoned during the 60’s.
The original name of Pan di Zucchero rock was Concali su Terrainu but from 1700 it has been called Pan di Zucchero due to its resemblance to Pão de Açúcardi in Rio de Janeiro. The Sardinian Pan di Zucchero looks like a sugar rock in the middle of a crystalline turquoise sea. The rock is characterized by its light colour and by its surface consisting of flat ridges of limestone. Inside, it is perforated by two large arches and tunnels, one of which you can travel through in a small boat.
In front, you will see the sea stacks of Porto Flavia, where the tunnel of an evocative twentieth-century mine, carved in the reef, opens up. From here, minerals were loaded directly onto the merchant ships.
The mine of Porto Flavia, on the promontory that dominates Masua, built between 1922 and 1924, was a revolution in the way minerals were loaded on board ships. The exit of the mine suspended between sky and sea, made it possible to load minerals directly onto the ships, destined for the northern European foundries, drastically reducing time and cost of transportation as until that moment minerals were loaded by hand onto small sailing ships bilancelle and the minerals delivered to the port of Carloforte island were then set off to reach the Continent loaded into commercial ships then.
This unprecedented engineering masterpiece was designed by director Cesare Vecelli. He named the "port" after his first daughter Flavia. The beginning of the extraction activity dates back to the middle of the 19th century. At the end of the century, the mine was a great centre of extraction activities, with over 700 workers. The condition of the workers were terrible though. After a short slowing-down period, in 1922 the Belgian company of Vieille Montagne brought new impetus to the mine. Then the crisis of the 1930s continued on with its slow decline.
Nowdays, Porto Flavia and the mines complex are a fantastic museum celebrating a part of history almost unknown to most but overall one of the most amazing sunset in Sardinia can be seen exactly from Porto Flavia!