20 May Mining memories
America has Western ghost towns; Sardinia has abandoned mining villages.
On the southern west coast, La Costa Delle Miniere (Coast of the Mines) is a stream of some two dozen abandoned mines; it’s creepy. Giant stone buildings built into the stone – rocks chipping away year after year. Rusted metal conveyors bent and misshapen. On my bike trip we encountered them daily.
South of the town of Buggeru, the abandoned mines cover about 3,500 kilometers and 85 different municipalities– many coastal; it’s a UNESCO heritage site.
The empty houses from the long-forgotten towns are also eerie. The mining began a long time ago—we’re talking over 150 years old. The buildings are crumbling in the burning sun.
Some of the houses have trees sprouting out of them and eroded staircases lead to a second floor that doesn’t exist because it has crumbled into pieces on the terra cotta floor.
On the weekend Niela and I rented a car—a Peugeot convertible to boot– to drive out to the west coast to see if we could find some more mines.
We stumbled on Minera Genna Loas –a mine–near Inglesias which has Sardinia’s highest concentration of mines. It wasn’t well signed, but once we got to the bottom of a long walk, a group of men around a barbeque of SARDINES asked if we wanted lunch.
We were swept up in a cloud of people offering to give us a tour. Everyone was here to discuss the tourism and mining. They were also here to mourn the some 1,600 miners who died during 150 years of mining.
Here the shaft goes down 150 meters; if the electricity went, miners took the stairs. The first man we met told us the mine where he worked went down about double that distance.
Before we could say a word, someone handed me a beer, then a glass of wine (imagine me with two glasses of booze–unthinkable).
We then took our plate of goodies and sat with everyone and ate barbequed sardines, tomatoes and bread. Oh, and wine. Lots of wine.
After eating, we drank an herb liqueur that is wickedly strong. During prohibition locals buried the booze underground. To find it they stuck a wire in the ground.
Our end goal that day was to reach the island of San Pietro –we got there much, much later than anticipated. We finally left to tons of hugs and kisses.
I will write about San Pietro tomorrow. Lovely place… here are a few more of the people we met completely by chance…love it.
Also, cannot forget Gabrielo Tfrosiriei from Romania. She explained the food, the meeting, the traditions…and, she took care of us always asking if I wanted more fish, more wine, more bread….anything.
Big bunches of thanks to you all. This is why I travel.