In the south-east of Cagliari, sun sea salt is combined in a solar salt mine (Molentargius Saline). Here, salt was mined since Phoenician times, later by Romans and then the Italian state raised taxes on production costs from 3% to 300% until 1975 when the monopoly ended and the salt mine was closed. The mine was named after the small Sardinian donkey ‘su Molenti’, used to carry the bags of salt and even pull boats in the canals together with prisoners. The nowadays defunct salt mine and its basins filled with waters of different salinity are part of a protected Molentargius ecosystem, loved by salt-tolerant plants and the flocks of flamingos that tend to forage here. Most of the small donkeys seem to have migrated to the United States were they are 50000 popular pets, enjoying the better life after their ancestry’s hard labour.
Behind the salt plant is the sea, the harbour and the beach of Poetto, where the Cagliaritans tend to flock. During cool and tranquil months of October to May, I like to visit the pavilions along Poetto beach to have a bite during lunchtime. From June to September, I leave Poetto to the Cagliaritans complaining about the ever changing colour of the sand and to the tourists enjoying the nightlife. Now and then, if the wind blows north and earlier applied chemicals were feeble, I can smell the rotting of the reeds and can’t avoid listening to the stories of Poetto and Molentargius as brought by the mosquitoes that came to take a bite off me, that is before it is bedtime and I can’t help to shut them up with my private stash of toxic spray.