The Porto Flavia mine, which is located within the promontory that overlooks Masua, in the commune of Iglesias, south-west Sardinia, was constructed between 1922 and 1924. It was built to enable the direct loading of minerals onto ships, with said minerals being extracted along the tunnels of the promontory and destined for the foundries of Northern Europe. This work significantly reduced the times and costs for the transportation of minerals.
Cesare Vecelli was the master engineer who designed this unprecedented feat of engineering. He named the “port” after his daughter, Flavia, whose name is emblazoned across the Medieval style tower at the entrance to the tunnel system.
The little beach of Porto Flavia, located in a small cove, is surrounded by a green pine forest and stands alongside the remains of the mining structure. From here, the panorama will draw your gaze out towards the deep blue of the sea, until it finally comes to rest upon the dazzling white of the mighty Pan di Zucchero (sugar loaf) sea stacks.
Pan di Zucchero is one of the island’s most imposing and spectacular natural monuments, an icon of the Iglesias coastline. The name comes from its resemblance to the Sugar Loaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro’s Guanabara Bay. It can easily be reached by dinghy or boat from the magnificent inlet of Masua, a coastal hamlet in Iglesias, roughly one and a half miles away. With the help of a guide and proper equipment, climbing enthusiasts can scale its 133 metres: it is the highest sea stack in the Mediterranean. Pan di Zucchero has a massive, rounded shape. Karst phenomena have eroded its flat-stepped surface (of around four hectares), leading to the creation of two tunnel-like caves.