73/377: Carbonia



Shortly after coming out of San Giovanni Suergiu I enter the beautiful cycle path, with lots of bridges and subways, which will take me straight to Carbonia. It is a beautiful day and the ride is pleasant and on a route that rises slightly.

I arrive at Carbonia and meet Simone and Andrea Scano, brothers of my friend Matteo who has made his home available for my staying. Andrea took the opportunity to make a short video interview for the Unione Sarda newspaper. Immediately after leaving my luggage, Simone and I head to the Archaeological Museum where I am waiting for a guided tour. Here, as in other museums, I am amazed by the quantity and variety of finds, also coming from other places in the Sulcis area. Here, for example, I see finds from both Tratalias and San Giovanni Suergiu. The most interesting thing is to see the signs of the various civilizations of other people of the Mediterranean. Small celestial beetles, typically Egyptian, found in the burial equipment of the Phoenician necropolis for example.

The weather is a bit ruined and it rains. I have lunch with Simone in a fast food restaurant before he starts his work shift. Near us a table of school students. Curiously one of them gets up, approaches me saying hello: it is Letizia, daughter of Luigia and Alberto who invited me for lunch in Gonnesa! The re-encounters of this tour!


The weather has improved (what the hell is happening this year?) I head to the site of the Serbariu mines. The area is very large, with several renovated buildings that house museums and some still disused. The towers of the miners’ lift are impressive. First stop at the paleontological and paleo-environments museum, strongly desired and curated by my friend Gianluigi Pillola. And I can see his touch. A well-organized museum, with a beautiful path that leads from the most ancient geological eras to the most modern ones, through their living beings and the environments in which they lived. In addition there are minerals from all over the Sulcis-Iglesiente.


Once out of here I visit the mining museum, which tells the story of this mine, and of the mining industry in general, including the creation of Carbonia in 1938 by Mussolini. The most beautiful part is the entrance to the mine, complete with a helmet and a light, where you can really understand what were the spaces and the terrible working conditions of the miners. Many were the dead here (probably many more than the official numbers.) This was also a punishment for criminals and even homosexuals. Thinking about it today makes you shiver.


I return to the center. And Mussolini’s touch is evident. The square with a sober, square architecture. The Torre Littoria, from where Mussolini made the inaugural speech of the new town. The theater. The Town Hall, with a beautiful statue by Gio Pomodoro in front. I follow a side road to go back home, crossing an area dedicated to skaters, entirely covered with murals. Through a waterway across a bridge and arrive to the area once inhabited by miners.


Simone joins me again for dinner, and together we take a night tour. We climb to Monte Sirai, an important archaeological site, from which we admire the spectacle of the night lights of the two islands, Sant’Antioco and San Pietro in front of us, and those even more evident of Portovesme. And before returning home, Simone shows me Serbariu, the old village that existed before the formation of Carbonia, now its neighborhood. In the central square and in the streets around the beautiful murals of local artist Debora Diana stand out.




Pneumatic hammer of miners.




I no longer remember when and where I met Matteo Scano, a refined jazz pianist, perhaps in Carbonia several years ago, perhaps in Cagliari at the Conservatory during our studies. I’ll ask him. Since then, alternately, we found ourselves here and there (even across the sea …) Matteo left me his house in Carbonia to stay during my project. He is now in Brussels, where he has lived for several years, working full time as a musician. Last year, in my North European explorations, we met in Brussels in a coach station for a quick, almost missed greeting! And for that little time, sitting in the cold on a wall waiting for my bus to Lille, Matteo tells me a bit about his life, which I did not know, and that reminds me a lot of mine, and that of many others who decide to give a change in their life. For many years Matteo worked in the Portovesme industry, Alcoa, also spending a long time in Bolzano. But the worm of music was nibbling on him, son of a good guitarist, and the work in the industry much more than gnawing, it was literally annihilating his life. He decided to resign and to enroll in the piano jazz course at the Conservatory of Cagliari. Perhaps few realize the sacrifices that one must make, as an adult, to return to study. But after years the sacrifices have brought excellent results, certainly on a musical level, but also, Matteo explains, in terms of quality of life. And last summer I was able to see the quality of his work when I heard him play at the jazz festival Seuinmusica, where he presented his album with his quartet. But he misses Sardinia. And every time he returns, he does not miss his appointment with the sea and the dives. Even this last January 1st I saw a picture of him splashing around in the (probably icy) waters of Porto Pino. Northern Europe hardens the body, I believe the mind too, but the call of the mother land is always strong. To the next time Matteo, Carbonia, Cagliari, Brussels, or who knows where!