Wild West adventures – Villamassargia, Sardinia

At first light this morning we could see the huge bank of cloud approaching signalling the arrival of the cold front which was forecast. We decided we did not want to be at the bottom of a sandy slope when that arrived so drove up to the top for breakfast etc. The automated 4×4 system of the Mercedes Sprinter 4×4 worked really well and we could hear the front wheels spin and the system kick in to redistribute the power to the other wheels for a smooth ascent. Little did we know then how much we would get to test it today…..

Breakfast finished and cleared away it was time to make our move whilst we enjoyed the last of the sun before the cold front arrived. We had looked at route last night on our phones, both using google maps we were given different routes. Mine headed north back down the road we arrived, Kevin’s head south. We decided to try a new route and headed south out of our camp spot as we were headed south east today for our next spot. The sat-nav in the van was very not happy with the southerly route and kept telling us to u-turn. We switched to google maps and carried on. We passed though the deserted Portu Magu and stopped to take a photo of the big rolling San dunes at Spiaggia di Piscinas which appeared to have houses built right on the beach.

Not long after our photo stop Kevin said why is google maps showing amber ahead, i.e. slow traffic like we were coming up to a traffic jam when we were within the wildness. The next minute we run out of tarmac. We decide this could be pretty fun as another chance to try out our 4×4 and besides it looked blue ahead again as if it were just the back of the beach area which was washed away. We engaged 4×4 and pressed on down the sandy track, negotiating some very big puddles completely covering the track and rounded the road to the blue part of the track. Still no tarmac. Now the track starts to go up hill and you can see big sections where streams of water have washed down the road creating crevices in the road. The van managed brilliantly and with steady pace and a bit of power we were at the top of the dunes looking back across the other side of the dunes. It can’t be far now to tarmac….

Actually, it turned out to be about 10km before we hit tarmac. I should add that, this is the marked SP4 road we were following and not just some random dirt track, and even speed restrictions signs – 30kph up a hill which was very washed away! It looks like a pretty normal road on the map and even had a campsite with a bar / restaurant part way down. We rather enjoyed the opportunity to test out the van, which performed brilliantly (though admitted more so when we reached tarmac again). We even got to ford a river 😀

Wheel wash included on SP4 road

We passed a moonscape-like landscape in a valley which looked very geologically unusual, it was only when we passed the beautiful old ruins of the mining works it made sense. The Miniera di Naracauli was apparently the treatment plant for the local blende of a sulphur rich poly metallic ore producing zinc, cadmium, gallium and indium. It was once one of the biggest zinc mines in Sardinia, but now it is in ruins and the mining town Ingurtosu beside it had a population of only 9 in 2011.

After passing this building we could see a car ahead which appeared to be on tarmac. However Google maps was showing red ahead between us and where the car was 😨. We wondered what on earth could rate as red when a washed away road section was only amber. We moved forward cautiously only to find the red appeared to correspond to the smoothest bit of tarmac we had seen since we arrived in Sardinia. We passed the local guy in his car who seemed a little surprised to see us. This still forms part of the SP4 road, so no apparent way to tell when part of the route is unpaved!

We drove up the steep hillside and hairpin bends, with up to a 20% incline. When we reached the top, the mine owners house / offices, the Palazzo Della Direzione di Ingurtosu, overlooking their domain below, we suddenly see a sign saying max height ahead 2.6m, we are 3.1m 🤯. There is no alternate route but right back the track we have just come down! We decide to carry on. It turns out to be an archway built into to the Palazzo, I jump out to check our clearance and thankfully we have bags of room to get through. Phew!

Palazzo Della Direzione di Ingurtosu

The rest of the journey to the little campsite in Villamassargia seemed rather uneventful after that. It has been quite an adventure to see some of wild and rugged west of the island. I gather the south and east are the main tourist spots, so great to see both sides of Sardinia. The campsite owner was very friendly, but sadly the washing machine we planned to use is packed up, although he said he can reconnect it, not much use without a drier when the rain is failing.

We decided to adventure into town, Kev is planning to make the local Salsciccia e fagoli (sausage and beans) and we were short a couple of ingredients. The town also offered a number of pizzerias and we have still yet to have one. We enquired at the Jupiter which was still just open (even the bars close for siesta here) and they said to return at 7pm. So tonight we may finally get to try pizza in Sardinia… hopefully.

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