The mines in Capoliveri are on Monte Calamita, whose name comes precisely from the magnetite, the iron mineral to be found in these mines.
Curious facts: magnetite is a very heavy mineral, 8 times heavier than water, and is the iron mineral with the highest content of iron, and is therefore the mineral with the most magnetic properities to be found in nature. The magnetite deposit in these mines is the biggest in Europe!
The mines can be considered a real, open air museum, and are part of the Tuscan Archipelago National Park. If you want to find out more about the fascinating history of the iron and the extremely hard work of the miners, you can go on a guided tour of both the Ginevro mine and the Old Workshop Museum.
The museum is above Vallone (Capoliveri) and you get there by following the road for the mine. It was built inside the mecanics workshop of the mine, and here you will be told the history, life and customs of the miners from Monte Calamita.
The rooms have been created in such a way to look like the inside of a mine: the mecanics workshop, the tools used by the miners, the infirmary, the offices and the archive where you can still see the official documents, registers of those who needed medical assistance and the antique maps and plans.
Guides on a shuttle bus take you from the museum to the inside of Ginevro mine
Once there you can admire the huge iron structures used to extract the different minerals from the site.
Ginevro is the only mine in Elba where internal excavation was carried out, with tunnels that started off at 6 metres above the ground and went down as far as 54 metres below sea level. It was in use from 1971 to 1981 and due to the completely new and innovative criteria used inside, it was considered one of the most up-to-date mines in Europe for its time. When it was closed down only 1/3 of its deposit had been exploited to the full, so there is still a lot of iron to be found as far down as 250 metres below sea level.
Curious facts: Ginevra mine is one of the mines in Italy kept on stand by so that should the need arise it can be opened and used again.
Today you can go on excursions and guided toursas far down as 24 metres below sea level.You will be given a protective helmet and you will be taken down into the long, dimly lit up tunnel while a guide will tell you all about its history and the type of excavation used in the mine.
When the mine was still in use the tunnel had two entrances: one facing north and the other facing south; one of the two openings later collapsed, while the other looks on to a sheer drop on the third level of the mine (at 54 metres below sea level).
They used different types of explosive charges for crushing and then gathering the minerals, which were put at a distance of 1 metre and then set off following a controlled and programmed explosion so that the rubble fell downwards and into the carts on the level below, to be taken to the lifts that then brought it to the surface. The minerals were then put on a conveyor belt to be taken to the site outside, then dropped into the different waste collectors for the last part and loaded onto trucks or otherwise onto ships to be transportedby sea.
Interesting facts: In the grottos inside the mine there are more and more coloured stalactites growing all the time, and if they keep increasing and growing at this rate those grottos could become very interesting because their structure and colours are truly unique.
Find out more on our journey across the mines in Capoliveri!
Loc. Calamita, Capoliveri
Tel. 0565 935492 - 393 9059583