Sardinia’s Porto Flavia Is A Proud Monument Of A Time Passed
Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and home to a very unusual and history-altering port. Porto Flavia, a port high up on a cliff, was a genius idea by an Italian engineer. An outstanding engineering feat, the port cut minings costs by up to 70% when it opened, and had a huge effect on the mining industry in Italy.
The port also impacted the economy of the surrounding area, surprisingly in a negative way. Because the port was so successful, it made mining for minerals so much more efficient. Because of this, a lot of workers in the surrounding areas lost their jobs.
The harbour’s characteristics make it unique in the world, and even today it remains an remarkable engineering accomplishment.
The Mine’s History Goes Back Hundreds Of Years
The harbour itself was built through 1923-1924. Before that, ore production and shipping was much more costly, slow, and dangerous.
Before Porto Flavia was built, the ore they were mining for had to be hauled from the mines up in the mountains all the way to the beach. From there, they were loaded onto small boats and taken to Carloforte Island harbour 30 KM away.
One it arrived, the ore was stored in the holding area of waiting steamships until a full load could be shipped to foundries in Germany, France, and Belgium.
The main problem was, among many others, that the ore-laden boats were heavy and would often sink in stormy seas. When the weather was bad, it took up to two months to fully load a steamship in Carloforte!
The owner of the mine tasked Italian engineer Cesare Vecelli to come up with a solution to the situation. Timing and cost needed to go down, and Vecelli was the man who came up with the master plan.
He surveyed the surrounded area, and found the perfect destination, high up in the cliffs in front of the Pan di Zucchero stack. It was perfect because the sea was deep enough for the ships to pull up, the spot was well-protected from winds and waves, and the ore could be loaded directly from the cliffs with a mechanical arm he invented to do the job.
Amazingly, The Port Took Less Than Two Years To Build Into The Cliff
Because of the business benefits, there was much urgency around building the port as quickly as possible. Once the engineer surveyed the area for a year, he came up with a plan to create Porto Flavia.
The engineer and owner of the mine assembled a special crew of miners who specialized in explosives and rock climbing. They all worked in shifts around the clock day and night, often disregarding safety measures. Despite the potentially unsafe working conditions, no casualties were reported in the building of the port.
The construction took a total of two years, which was unheard of at the time. Especially considering how intricate and groundbreaking the design was, it’s incredible the crew was able to finish so quickly. In a sentimental move, Cesare Vecelli sought and received permission from the owner to name the port after his daughter, Flavia.
When the port opened in 1924, it slashed ore production costs by up to 70%. The construction costs were paid for in under two years. The project was considered a technical marvel of the mining business at the time.
Visiting Porto Flavia
If you’re heading to Sardinia and you’d like to check out this engineering masterpiece, you’ll need to rent yourself a guide. You can only visit the site on guided tours… but the bonus is that they leave hourly and offer lots of timing options.
You can get a tour in either Italian or English, and they cost around 10 Euros. The tour companies very, of course, but most of the tours are around two hours. Plenty of time to snap some pics for the ‘gram.
How To Get There
Porto Flavia is a stunning destination on so many levels, and you’d be wise to add it to your trip to Sardinia. Masua is in South Sardinia, one of the most stunning areas of the country. The beach isn’t too crowded, and is supposed to be one of the best family beaches in the area.
You can get there by heading to Masua’s beach in Sardinia, where you’ll find a road that leads uphill and around the coast for about 2.5KM. Keep in mind though that visits are by guided tour only. You can go here to check out some tour options.
Where To Stay
Fortunately, if you want to visit this historic site in Iglesias, there are lots of varied options to choose from. If you’d like to stay in a hotel, go ahead and check out the availabilities here. If an Airbnb is more your style, go here to see lots of different options.
Then, of course, there’s Trip Advisor. Here you’ll find great reviews of the local hotels, motels, and other offerings, as well as insider tips from people who’ve been to the area.
What Is There To Do At Porto Flavia
There are a lot of options for tours near Porto Flavia. You can do a trekking tour around the area, of course a boat tour of varied price points, and even a full coastal tour to explore these exotic and pristine waters.
- Related: In other game-changing construction in history, the Diolkos Trackway in Greece was the inspiration for the train track.