Argentiera, or Miniera dellʼArgentiera, was once a thriving mining village. Located 43 km (26 miles) from Sassari on the island of Sardinia in Italy, it has an interesting history which dates back thousands of years. Having been abandoned for a period, the village is now seeing a resurgence, using its status as a ghost town to attract tourists.
The name of the town comes from argento which is Italian for silver. From the ancient era, silver was mined at the site by the Phoenicians. The Romans annexed Corsica and Sardinia from the Carthaginians in 238 BC. Argentiera played an important part in trading of precious metals throughout the known world and was important economically to the Roman Empire.
As the years progressed, Sardinia changed hands a number of times, eventually becoming the Kingdom of Sardinia. It was during this period that mining began once again in Argentiera. In 1840, the Belgian company Società di Corr’e boi opened a mine in the area. Gold and silver were extracted from up to 700 metres (2,296 feet) into the mountain. Given the proximity to the sea, coastal erosion became a major issue and many miners were killed as a result of devastating rock falls. Tunnel collapses were common and efforts were made to improve safety and structural integrity of the mine.
Argentiera became a bustling town with the onset of World War II. Many miners came from the mainland at this time. The city of Carbonia in the south became the main centre of coal mining activity and the island became an important source of raw materials for Mussolini’s imperial ambitions. Italy entered the war on the side of Axis powers in June 1940.
During the war, Sardinia was an important air and naval base and was heavily bombed by the Allies. The mines were used as shelters by the local population. The Armistice of Cassibile was signed on 3 September 1943 which stipulated the surrender of Italy to the Allies. German troops had been occupying Sardinia in an effort to hold back the Allies who had already invaded Sicily. The Germans agreed to leave peacefully on 8 September and Sardinia was spared fighting and bloodshed.
After the war, tourism boomed in Sardinia and mining began to decrease in importance. The mine at Argentiera was eventually closed in 1963 and the town became abandoned, helped by large scale emigration from Sardinia in the early 1960s.
Reports of ghostly sightings brought the town to the attention of the Italian media and it is widely regarded as one of the most haunted places in Italy. The mine tunnels are said to be have a particular concentration of paranormal activity, dating back to the rock falls when it first opened in the 1840s.
Today a small area of Argentiera is inhabited and businesses mainly serve a tourist purpose. The whole town is located within the UNESCO preserved Geological Mining Park of Sardinia. Efforts have been made to utilise the status as a ghost town and the paranormal happenings to attract tourists to the area.