The stack of Pan di Zucchero, witness of marine erosion, rises above the sea level to a height of 133 meters with an area of 3.72 hectares, south of Punta Is Cicalas, to which it ideally connects. It appears as the northern outpost of an aligned cortege of minor white rocks, which stand out on the opposite coast, characterized by a purplish color.
The stack which is located in an area of very high mining importance received the first concessions for exploitation in 1914 entrusted to private companies.
Some relevant works were thus carried out including the arrangement of ladders anchored to the rock and the excavation of steps to facilitate the landing the ascent on the south-east side of the rock.
This route is the current via ferrata also known as the "Miners Route".
They started the beginning of the mining extraction on the Speranza site (east); the discovery of the cave of Santa Barbara on the south side.
In the following years they worked on the Cuccu and Santa Barbara caves where they extracted galena with traces of 65% lead and 8.8% zinc.
The Galena is a radio conductive material. It was used in radio transmissions which, straddling the two wars were one of the main communication systems.
Those were years of intense mining work, which led to the construction of a cableway structure, also used to connect the stack to the mainland with a 400-meter cableway towards the concession of the Grand Canal. This system is no longer in place.
VIA FERRATA PAN DI ZUCCHERO & RING HIKE OF THE PLATEAU
STARTING POINT / Warung Beach Club & Restaurant Masua
EQUIPMENT / hiking boots + via ferrata kit + gloves + swimwear
DISTANCE / 1 km total
HIKE TIME / 30-40 min total
OVERALL TIME / 2-3 h
ELEVATION / 133 mt
DIFFICULTY / Easy
TRAILS / follow the ometti
HIKERS / Giulio, Costanza
YELLOW (1-2-3) = Climbing routes
PINK (4) = Rappelling
BLUE (5) = Via Ferrata
GREEN (6) = Ring Hike
On the 22nd of August Costanza and I went to Masua Beach to go climb up the via ferrata Pan di Zucchero on the homonym sea stack.
We arrived at Masua beach early in the morning around 8.15, where we parked the car.
The Warung Beach Club, which is a lovely restaurant and bar, also offers a variety of taxi boat services, organised tours, and equipment rental (including the ferrata kits) which you can easily check them out here.
We had a quick breakfast before Matteo, one of the owners, board us on the rubber boat to take us to the start of the Via Ferrata.
The little ride to the stack takes about 15 minute at low speed. Matteo was very kind and gave us some historical information about the surroundings and the stack itself, we also shared some life stories.
Meanwhile approaching the rocks we get ready with our harnesses, gears and helmets.
The surroundings gift us with some amazing scenarios; one of them the incredible Porto Flavia, a sea harbor built in 1923–24, served as the mineral production hub of Masua. It is named after Flavia Vecelli, the daughter of Cesare Vecelli, who engineered and designed the harbor.
The harbor's characteristics make it unique in the world, and at the time of its construction it was an outstanding engineering feat.
Finally we arrived to the rocks where the Via Ferrata starts.
This is how the starting point looks.
The first few steps take you up on the cliff.
After few minutes we arrived into the actual entrance of the mine caves.
You will have to proceed directly entering the first room on the right, that which will take you, like on a spiral staircase, over a small stone bridge.
Once we passed this small sloping section, we continued on the ledge path, easy to hike and moderately exposed, always keeping our security system on the ferrata cable till we arrived at a series of stairs alternate with simple walking stretches.
These series of stairs will take you on the top of the big arch standing attached to the sea stack, as seen in the arrival.
From that point there will be only few minutes of exposed hiking left, following the ferrata cable, to reach the top of the Pan di Zucchero, where the wide plateau opens up.
Arrived on top we hiked counterclockwise the plateau, which is covered with very arid, low and thorny wild vegetation.
Reached the extreme point to the right, the one facing the coast we could admire the panorama.
Then we kept going up following the ometti to reach the highest point, the one facing the open sea, at 133 mt above the sea level.
After about 15 minutes we where at the top.
We enjoyed the breeze and the beautiful panorama and right after we started to hike down, as the sun was already high in the sky and started to heat us really heavily.
The hike of the Plateau ends exactly where it starts.
To climb down and get at the bottom of the Pan di Zucchero there are two possibilities: retrace the via ferrata in the opposite direction, with travel times of about 20-30 minutes, otherwise if properly equipped and experienced, or with an alpine guide, from the arch it is possible to abseil an overhanging 45 meters drop to the sea, and then be recovered by the taxi service of Warung Beach Club.
Around 11 am we hiked back by the via ferrata as we hadn't the right rope for the rappelling, which requires a 100 mt rope.
The sun was so high and the temperature so hot that once we arrived at the sea level we took all our clothes off and dive into those beautiful waters waiting for our boat to pick us up.
Photo credits: Giulio Aprin