Pan di Zucchero: the white giant of the Mediterranean Sea
Symbol of the Iglesias coast, the Pan di Zucchero islet is a wild wonder you cannot miss.
The Iglesias coast, in the far southwest of Sardinia, has in the islet of Pan di Zucchero its most spectacular and imposing natural monument. It stands in the picturesque inlet of Masua, a small mining town in Iglesias. Originally the islet was known by the Sardinian name Concali su Terràinu, but in the 18th century people began to associate it with the famous Pão de Açúcar in the bay of Rio de Janeiro because of the similar shape. As a consequence, they replaced the native name with the Italian translation of the Brazilian one.
Pan di Zucchero is one of the largest stacks in Europe
Pan di Zucchero is a splendid rock of whitish limestone that you can reach by dinghy or boat starting from the beautiful inlet of Masua. The rock was formed by marine erosion, which separated it from the mainland and gave it the shape of a large sugar cube floating on the sea.
It has a massive, rounded shape. Its surface is about 3.72 hectares and it reaches 133 meters in height (much higher than the famous Faraglioni of Capri). It has two tunnel-shaped caves at sea level. These are the result of karst phenomena and centuries of rainwater action on carbonate rocks. The stack is connected to the del Morto and S’Agusteri Faraglioni.
Pan di Zucchero, together with the coast of Masua and Nebida, form one of the most famous stretches of Southern Sardinia coast, almost reminiscent of the Irish stacks.
Masua is a beach which landscape, typical of the Sulcis Iglesiente, is one of the most authentic in the entire region. The islet of Pan di Zucchero is about 2.5 km away. It is easily recognizable thanks to its light color and the two large arches in the south and north walls.
Its beauty is incredible, both during the day and at night. However, the best time to admire it is at sunset, when the sunlight paints it in shades of yellow and orange. It is wonderful! Moreover, it is located within a protected area and marine park, home to many species including lobsters, sea bass, mullet, conger eels and sea goats. For this reason, the area is particularly suitable for snorkeling. In addition, at Pan di Zucchero you can to admire the blowholes: small caverns spray seawater every time a wave compresses the air inside them.
But the islet is also particularly popular among climbers, who can practice along its walls. Several famous climbers have climbed it: one of them is Manolo, one of the pioneers of free climbing in Italy.
How to reach Pan di Zucchero and what to see nearby
The starting point is Masua, near the port of Buggerru, in the municipality of Iglesias. This locality is located in the Sulcis Iglesiente area, one of the oldest emerged lands in Europe together with the Costa Verde. As mentioned above, you can reach Pan di Zucchero by boat or dinghy starting from the shoreline. Be careful of the water currents: the seemingly calm surface can hide dangers.
Besides the islet, you can visit other interesting places nearby. One of them is Nebida, a small village with a scenic promenade overlooking the sea and wonderful coves surrounded by typical Sardinian Mediterranean scrub. Two kilometers north of Is Cicalas is the Grand Canal of Nebida. It is a long, narrow valley with a stream that flows into the sea through a fjord. In addition to the small beach, there are a series of caves. The Canal Grande Cave, at the foot of the cliff, is a 150-meter tunnel carved by the sea. The Grotta delle Spigole is located below the north face. Further north, in Buggerru territory, is Cala Domestica.
You can also visit Canal Grande on foot starting from Masua, and following a trekking path along which you can see signs of ancient mining activity. In fact, around the end of the 19th century, the Masua mine was one of the most important in Sardinia. A housing complex was built nearby, with school, hospital, church and workshops, which is now a ghost village. It is an evocative stop on the Santa Barbara mining route and a UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sardinia’s geo-mining park.
Do you want to admire the imposing Pan di Zucchero and live a vacation of charm and elegance? Book a stay at Palazzo Doglio in Cagliari.