© Parco Geominerario Sardegna / G. Alvito
© Parco Geominerario Sardegna / G. Alvito

Villaggio Asproni, a site of industrial archaeology in Sardinia

4 minutes to read

Sardinia is one of the regions of Italy with the highest number of mining concessions (over 600). The territories of the Geomineral Park offer mineral resources unique in the world, capable of attracting the most demanding scholars, enthusiasts, lovers of culture and science. In the hinterland and on the coasts, the changes in the landscape caused by the mining activity carried out over time are evident. This is testified by the numerous examples of industrial engineering that still characterize the territory today. So, let's talk about one of those places where time seems to have stopped - Villaggio Asproni, a site of industrial archaeology in Sardinia.

© iStock / Rodolfo Baldussi
© iStock / Rodolfo Baldussi

Origins

Since ancient times, the richness of the Sardinian subsoil was already known. And since 1800, coal, bauxite and antimony mines were opened. The richest deposits were found in the areas of Iglesiente, Sarrabus, Sulcis, Nurra and the Argentiera area.

Mining is currently undergoing a period of crisis, and many mines have been closed because they have become uneconomical, but these places that tell the story are being converted to tourist attractions and the development of the Mining Archaeological Park. So, the classical archaeology of Sardinia, which concerns historic sites and major nuraghe in Sardinia, is accompanied by mining archaeology, which is very interesting from a historical, naturalistic and geological point of view.

© Sardegna Abbandonata / unknown author
© Sardegna Abbandonata / unknown author

Villaggio Asproni is located in the hinterland of the Sardinia region, in the province of Carbonia-Iglesias and was the village of the Seddas Moddizzis mine. It was, in fact, the inhabited nucleus of what was once one of the most famous mining establishments. It was abandoned, and today, it is a very suggestive ghost village. Its name derives from its founder, engineer Giorgio Asproni, who had acquired the mine at the end of the 19th century. Today, this is a place of industrial archaeology that is absolutely worth visiting for lovers of history, anthropology and photography.

Villaggio Asproni
Villaggio Asproni
Contrada Sedda Moddizis, 09016 Iglesias SU, Italia

Villaggio Asproni is located in a fairly isolated position but easily accessible. From the village of Gonnesa, take the road that leads to Seddas Moddizzis, and from there, you walk along a dirt road that leads to the village. From the promontory on which the village is located, you can also admire the sea.

The village includes some houses, a store, the Church of San Giorgio, offices of the mine management, and the villa for the engineer Asproni and his family, a two-storey mansion once rich in decorations and frescoes, still visible. We also find the school for the children of miners and other small buildings used for commercial activities. Villaggio Asproni was a place of well-being for over fifty years, where lead, zinc and barium were extracted, which made the fortune of the inhabitants. But Giorgio Asproni was famous for the terrible working and living conditions that he imposed on the miners. After he died in 1936, the Italian state sent economic aid and authorized the connection to the power line and the aqueduct, as well as bringing new machinery that also allowed the extraction of barium and blende. But, subsequently, the crisis in the mining sector led to the closure of the mine, and the Villaggio Asproni was completely abandoned.

Today, Villaggio Asproni is a real ghost village, and a legend tells that the ghost of Knight Toro, a very prominent character in the area at the time, really roams among the ruins. And if the visit to the village takes place just before sunset, the recreating lights really cause the chills!

The Mine and the laundry

To get an idea of how important the Seddas Moddizis mine was, so much that it deserved the construction of a village for its workers, you can extend the visit to its ruins. The mine was closed in 1963 and has been abandoned. The area is fenced, and access is forbidden for safety reasons, but it is possible to visit the outside, which offers beautiful views for landscape and industrial photography lovers. The visible part is the mine's laundry, where the minerals extracted were washed and purified from waste.

© iStock / Rodolfo Baldussi
© iStock / Rodolfo Baldussi

The mineral treatment plants are downstream from the cultivation sites and develop on two floors with openings that are variously aggregated and concluded by a central gable. The laundry is made up of volumes aggregated at different levels and leaning against a hill of tailings in a spectacular and open position on the valley. The mine is part of the Geomineral, Historical and Environmental Park of Sardinia, recognized by UNESCO.

Old Mine Seddas Moddizis
Old Mine Seddas Moddizis
Seddas Moddizzis, 09016 Iglesias SU, Italia

The surrounding area

On the occasion of a photographic walk to admire these beautiful examples of industrial archaeology, you can visit the nearby village of Gonnesa, small but very characteristic, or make a point towards the sea, at the Ancient Tonnara of Porto Paglia. Or you could visit the nuraghe of Seruci, an important archaeological site which, especially with the light of the sunset, offers a breathtaking spectacle.

Ancient Tonnara of Porto Paglia, Gonnesa
Ancient Tonnara of Porto Paglia, Gonnesa
Strada Comunale Porto Paglia, 09010 Gonnesa SU, Italia
Nuragic Village of Seruci, Gonnesa
Nuragic Village of Seruci, Gonnesa
09010 Gonnesa SU, Italia

History, archaeology and photography lovers will return home truly satisfied after visiting Villaggio Asproni, a site of industrial archaeology in Sardinia. This and many other stories await you while visiting beautiful Sardinia, an experience not to be missed! Enjoy your visit!


The author

Mara Noveni

Mara Noveni

My name is Mara, I am Italian, born in Rome and raised in the wonderful Tuscany. Always in love with reading and writing, I completed this way of expressing myself through photography, especially street and travel photography. Thanks to my many and long travel experiences, I have enriched my mind and my inner life.

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