Carbonia is one of the two capitals of the province of Carbonia-Iglesias in the south west of the island of Sardinia. The city is located just off the west coast. Carbonia was founded in the 1930s, in order to accommodate the workers in the Serbariu mines. An earlier village, also called Carbonia, was incorporated in the new town. The region where the city is located is called Sulcis.
Carbonia travel guide
Tourist information: There is no tourist office.
Town hall: Piazza Roma, 1 – 09013 Carbonia. Phone: +39 0781 6941.
Railway station: The train station of Carbonia is the end of the line on the train to and from Villamassargia. From Villamassargia there are trains to Iglesias and Cagliari.
Apart from the ancient ruins and necropolises mentioned below, Carbonia does not have many attractions.
The San Ponziano Church is characterized by its neo-Romanesque architecture.
The 27 meter tall former Torre Littoria is now the Torre Civica.
The town hall is characterized by its fascist architecture.
Lately, the city has made a virtue out of necessity and some of the old mines have been transformed into a museum.
A brief history of Carbonia
There are multiple traces of prehistoric presences in the territory. Near the present village of Sirri, archaeological finds point to the presence of a civilization known as Su Carroppu.
Traces of later prehistoric tribes have been found in locations such as the Grotte dell’Ospedale, the Grotte di Barbusi, the Grotta di Serbariu and many others. Some of these caves , like the Grotta di Baieddus de Sa Sedderenciu, were used as burial sites.
There are also several pre-Nuragic necroplises in the area. These are known as domus de janas and are dug out into the rocks.
Of the Nuragic civilization, there are multiple sites, such as the Nuraghe Sirai.
Traces of the Phoenician and Punic presences have been preserved at the Monte Sirai settlement.
There are also multiple reminders of the presence of the Romans in the territory of Carbonia. These include objects found in tombs and ruins of country villas and of post stations along the road to Carales, as Cagliari used to be called.
During the Middle Ages the area was subject to Cagliari. Several churches were built, spread out over the territory.
In the 14th century, the House of Aragon came into power. However, the city was abandoned when an epidemic of the Plague struck the area, which had already been impoverished as a result of the instability caused by fights between the Aragonese and their contenders.
After the Middles Ages
In the 18th century, the House of Savoy took over from the Spanish rulers. The entire area became a feud of the Brondo, who were succeeded by the Bou Crespi. Meanwhile, small rural settlements started springing up.
In 1834, the first traces of coal were found by Alberto La Marmora. However, it was not until 1851 that the first actual coal pit was found. Not long after that, the first mining companies started digging, especially around what was then the city of Serbariu.
In 1933, the Società Anonima Carbonifera Arsa was created in order to regulate the coal mines in the area. Production developed to such an extent, that the fascist government decided to found present day Carbonia, for the workers. Construction of the new city started in 1937, with the laying of the foundation stone of the Torre Littoria.
Workers from all over Italy started flocking to Carbonia. However, during the last years of World War II, money became scarse and the workers were treated ever more badly, which led to some of the first strikes in the country.
After the fall of fascism, Carbonia experienced a new period of expansion. The new company in charge of the mines, Carbosardo, also treated the workers badly (lowering wages, raising rents and costs of living in the city, relocating unionized workers) and new strikes ensued. the company retaliated, but public opinion was on the side of the workers and the company had to give in.
In the 1960s, many mines had to close, which led to an exodus, since the economy was almost completely dependent on the industry.
In 2005, the city became capital of the new province of Carbonia-Iglesias. From there the SS130 leads to Cagliari.
How to get to Carbonia by car
The SS126 leads to Iglesias.