Set up in the workshops of the Vallone mining site
6 km from the village of Capoliveri, at the gates of the Calamita mines, in the heart of the Tuscan Archipelago National Park, is the Old Workshop Museum, set up in the workshops of the mining site of the Walloon.
At the end of a panoramic road, which from the town of Capoliveri leads to the heart of the earth, to the Calamita Mines, is this treasure trove of industrial archeology in which it is possible to discover all the mining and working history of the island of Elba.
Museum of the Old Workshop at the historic mine
The Museum of the Old Workshop is set up inside the ancient mechanical workshops of the Vallone shipyard. With the reconstruction of the environments where the miners lived, the exhibition of the quarrymen’s objects, with original furnishings, ancient documents and cartographies, images and films of the Capoliveri tradition, you can understand the true history of the mines.
To the Museum of the Old Workshop to perceive the daily life of the miners
You will be able to discover the daily life and tales of the miners, the extraction techniques, the characteristics and possible uses of the iron ore told in their original context, in the richest and largest construction site in Capoliveri, between nature, culture and a beautiful sea.
Within the museum itinerary, thanks to a last restoration intervention, an additional exhibition hall dedicated to the enhancement of the minerals present in the area has now been created.
This area of Elba, already widely exploited during antiquity by the Etruscans and Romans, as well as representing an essential place for the mining history of Elba, is also characterized by a particular interest in fauna and flora, presenting a varied vegetation where there are rare species and some endemisms.
An excellent starting point for getting to know the area of Capoliveri, the Museum of the Old Workshop is the starting point of various trekking routes. Guided tours are organized to the underground mines and open-air construction sites, to reach wild beaches and the trail network of the renowned “Bike Park” of Monte Calamita.
The museum has a small bookshop, an area equipped for picnics and a large parking area.
The Vallone Calamita open pit mine
The Vallone is the open-air construction site of the Calamita – Capoliveri mine. The remaining traces belong to the more recent past, the remaining machinery worked until 1981, the year of closure for all the mines on Elba.
The mine is made up of steep steps that descend towards the sea, gentle paths that cross the scrub, black and shiny boulders, blue and green veins, wild coasts, breathtaking views. This is the Vallone construction site, the largest and oldest in Capoliveri.
The more modern excavation, with the massive use of explosives, has erased the most remote testimonies but it is easy to imagine that the Etruscans and Romans have obtained good quantities of Hematite, Limonite and Pyrite and that perhaps, even earlier, men have gone up here in search of native copper, of which the area was rich.
The intensive exploitation of the construction site, as described in the Museum of the Old Workshop, begins in the 19th century and from the early 1900s until the Second World War sees the introduction of increasingly advanced systems and technologies, which change the profile of the mountains and the coast .
The white beach below the Vallone mine
Thanks to the work of man if today the Vallone mine has a beautiful white beach, born from the accumulation of those often beautiful minerals which, lacking iron, were not sold to steel mills and were unloaded on the coast.
It is thanks to this incredible mineralogical variety that the shipyard is often a destination for collectors in search of azurite, malachite, chrysocolla, aragonite, gypsum, garnets, epidote and ilvaite.
The value of the extracted minerals
The miners tell it who, having learned the value and beauty of these minerals, became able to recognize the “good pieces” and hide them and then sell them to the first tourists, eager to obtain a perfect Pyrite crystal or a precious blue sample of Azurite.
Someone is moved when they think back that for a few lire of those “pieces” he loaded so many onto the Italsider wagons, they show pride and surprise when they say that the minerals from Elba are in all the museums of the world, they are a little surprised , happy that the value of his land today is in the beauty of the crystals and nature and in the charm of its history.