Porto Flavia, is a mine gallery designed by Engineer Cesare Vecelli in 1924, Masua, Sardinia, Italy.

© Atzori Riccardo/Shutterstock

Porto Flavia

Top choice in Southwestern Sardinia

A marvel of early-20th-century engineering, Porto Flavia is a port dug into cliffs 50m above the sea. Consisting of two 600m tunnels and an ingenious mechanical arm, it was used to load zinc and lead ore directly onto cargo ships waiting in the waters below. To find it, head towards Masua's beach from where a road leads back uphill and around the coast for about 2.5km. Visits are by guided tour only; it's best to book through the tourist office in Iglesias.

Built in 1924, Porto Flavia revolutionised the system of shipping minerals from Masua. Before it was built, the mined ore had to be loaded onto boats that had been hauled up onto the beach. These then sailed to Carloforte to transfer their loads to larger cargo vessels. However, Porto Flavia enabled the ore to be transported directly from underground depots to the cargo ships by means of a conveyor belt (in the lower of the two tunnels).

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Southwestern Sardinia attractions

1. Pan di Zucchero

0.44 MILES

A vast white scoglio (rock) rising out of the glassy blue seas in front of Masua, the Sugarloaf is one of the coast's great postcard sights. Named because…

2. Spiaggia di Masua

0.65 MILES

Beyond the unsightly remnants of Masua's mine, this lovely little sandy beach provides memorable close-ups of the Pan di Zucchero rock stack.

3. Belvedere

2.25 MILES

This panoramic terrace, accessible by a cliffside path from Nebida's southern entrance, commands fabulous views. Dominating the seascape is the 133m-high…

4. Cala Domestica Beach

3.02 MILES

A sensational sandy beach wedged into a natural inlet between craggy rocks, Cala Domestica is a heavenly spot. Its shallow blue waters are ideal for…

5. Funtanamare Beach

4.02 MILES

The nearest beach to Iglesias is at Funtanamare (also spelt Fontanamare), about 12km west of town. A long strip of golden sand backed by dunes and fertile…

6. Galleria Henry

4.12 MILES

A remnant of Buggerru's day as a mining centre, the Galleria Henry is a 1km-long tunnel that was dug in 1865 to allow a small train to transport minerals…

7. Grotta di Santa Barbara

5.18 MILES

The Grotta di Santa Barbara lies deep within the abandoned San Giovanni mine some 4km west of Iglesias. The walls of the single enormous chamber are…

8. Monteponi Mine

6.01 MILES

About 2km west of Iglesias, the sprawling Monteponi mining complex, now abandoned, was once one of Sardinia's most important producers of lead, zinc and…