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Home - Schedario - Arbus: Montevecchio

Arbus: Montevecchio

Guspini: MontevecchioThe history of the Montevecchio mine dates back to a by gone past: hut remains, datable to the pre-Nuraghic era, have been found at Sciria, in the proximity of an emerging vein and there are also several traces of human settlements in the Nuraghic, Punic, Roman and Medieval eras. The first document that actually establishes mining activity at Montevecchio dates back to 1628: the edict via which the mines of Sardinia above all those of Montevecchio and Giacomo Esquirro were granted.

In the modern era, under Savoy domination, extraction activity was run between 1720 and 1740 by Don Pietro Nieddu and Giò Stefano, to then later be passed over to the Swedish console Gustavo Mandel.

But it is in 1848 that a real turning point in the history of the mine took place: a Sardinian entrepreneur, Giovanni Antonio Sanna, obtained the permanent concession for the exploitation of the mines of the area called Monte Vecchio, in the territories of Guspini and Arbus. It is the beginning of a human and social adventure that went on for more than 150 years, up to 1991, the year the last extraction pit was closed and as a result the definitive conclusion of mining work in the area. In this long period of time Montevecchio was transformed from a mining quarter into an actual town having a hospital, school, post office, cinema and sport field. Its mineral structures were amongst the most important in Europe and some famous names stand out amongst its technicians and directors.

The hamlet that during peak mining activity accommodated around 5000 inhabitants, present day accommodates just some 400 people that still live in the buildings where the technicians and mine workers once resided.

Guspini: San Giovanni pit near PiccalinaAlong the road that from Guspini leads towards Montevecchio many buildings can be seen that tell of the history of the mine and its yards. Amongst which the Sciria station and the stock warehouse, the Piccalinna yard, built using a particular architectural style of different coloured patches of stone, and the San Giovanni pit, next to, on the right the extraction head frame. Where as on the left, there is the winch room, and the compressors, that preserves intact machinery of great interest.

The structure of the “Laveria Principe Tommaso” (Prince Tommaso Washery) is very impressive as well as the Sant'Antonio pit through which the Anglosarda tunnel can be accessed; finally reaching “collina di Gennas” (Genna’s hill), the mining quarter where the stylish elegant buildings tell of a glorious past.

The kiosk in Liberty style that is located in the square in the centre of Montevecchio, indicates the boundary between the municipalities of Guspini and Arbus. The director’s building, now a museum, the Santa Barbara church, the information centre, the ex lodge, destined to accommodate an elegant restaurant, together with many other buildings all belong to the municipality of Guspini. Where as the structure that once held the mine’s geologic office, destined to host the Mineralogical Museum falls under the territory of Arbus. Heading towards the sea, still in the municipality of Arbus, the Ponente yards ensues with the Amsicora and Sanna pits, then up to the mining centre of Ingurtosu.

Guspini: The blue room inside of the mines director buildingThe first place that one encounters is the Sanna yard, served by the pit of the same name that was built in 1886 using local rock.

Ingurtosu and Montevecchio, declared “human patrimonies”, are some of the most significant sites at “il Parco Geominerario” (The Geo mineral Park), proposed by “la Regione Sarda” (The Region of Sardinia) which is the first emblematic example of the new worldwide network of geo parks and has a fundamental strategic value for the economic and social economic changeover of all the mining areas of Sardinia.