Today the road will be long. The longest since I started. 38 kilometers. And it will also be tough for a couple of climbs. But it will be worth it. I leave before dawn. Start with the hard climb at the exit of Buggerru. Once at the top I stop to visit the exit of the mine gallery Henry (see post by Buggerru).
I cycle along the coast in the silence of dawn. Slowly the road creeps into narrow valleys, and rises slowly. Then I arrive at a place called Acquaresi, and from here there is a tough climb to 10%. Finally arrived at the top, I start the descent. Unfortunately, the problem with the brakes comes back, as in the descent to Fluminimaggiore, and I slowly go down with tension. Descent to 13%, creepy. But the panorama that slowly opens up is breathtaking, especially when the sea and the view of the Pan di Zucchero appear on the limestone cliffs.
I’ve arrived in Masua, a mining village of Iglesias. And from here I pedal along the coast for a while, crossing the hamlet of Nebida, where I stop for a coffee. Before departing, I pedal along the scenic route from which you can see the whole coast. The Pan di Zucchero in the distance, the purple rocks, the so-called Ordovician Pudding, and the Lamarmora washhouse. From Nebida then it is all down to the Funtanamare beach, and from here I go back up to Iglesias, passing the mines of Monteponi, with the imposing masses of red mining waste.
I arrive at lunch time. In Iglesias I am a guest of my cousin Maura and her husband Massimo, who will take me around, telling me a little bit of history of Iglesias. We begin by walking around the remains of the medieval walls, which we will find here and there around the center. There are still well preserved sections with towers. We arrive up to the castle of Salvaterra, built by Count Ugolino (like those of Villamassargia and Siliqua). From here you can also see the white church of the Madonna del Buon Cammino on top of one of the hills behind Iglesias.
We go down to Piazza Sella, dedicated to the scientist who studied these mining areas, and walk through the historic center. The buildings are beautiful, well cared for. Massimo explains that many are leaning against the old walls, that some have sections of walls in the garden. Then we pass in front of the Cathedral, the church of San Michele, San Francesco, the Madonna delle Grazie, and others … from which I understand the old name of Villa Ecllesiae (Town of church) then Iglesias in Spanish. Finally, in the dark we pass next to the beautiful building of the Liceo Minerario Asproni school and the Town Hall, which I had almost forgotten to photograph!
Tomorrow morning I will take the train to return to Cagliari and spend New Year’s Eve with my family. Second interruption of the tour in a short distance. I will take this opportunity to catch up with work on the blog and to give the bike brakes a fix!
SHORT SARDINIAN STORIES
It’s already been several times during this trip that I have heard of the St Barbara Way, and I have been intrigued by it. So today I am in the place where the journey starts and ends. The path, recently created, crosses the whole area of the Geominerario Park, the Sulcis-Iglesiente and the Guspinese, and touches places of naturalistic, historical-cultural and religious interest.
It consists of 400 kilometers of trails, which touch the main municipalities of the Park, Iglesias, Buggerru, Fluminimaggiore, Arbus, Guspini, Gonnosfanadiga, Villacidro, Domusnovas, Museums, Villamassargia. Narcao, Nuxis, Santadi, Piscinas, Giba, Masainas, San Giovanni Suergiu, Sant’Antioco, Carbonia and Gonnesa.
In each of these municipalities the stamp of completion of the route can be requested, and at the end of the journey a certificate of completion is obtained. Just like it happens in the most known Camino de Santiago. And this can also be done on foot or by bike. Even on horseback!
Once I had the idea of doing the Camino de Santiago. Then I thought that there was no need to go to another country to find oneself, or even that it was necessary to give a religious connotation to a personal journey. And that maybe a month was too short. So I thought that a year’s ride through my land could make sense as a personal journey. But I have to admit that now the idea of completing the Santa Barbara Way is coming to me … maybe by bike!