Parco Minerario Ing. Andrea Bonicelli

Località Fondi - 24020 Schilpario
Cell. 347.8163286 / 331.6253770 - /

Opening times:
- July and August:
every day 9.00-12.00 / 13.30-17.30
- In the remaining months, bank holidays and pre-bank holidays the hours are the same (excluding
November, December, January and February).
Itineraries: Gaffione mine (2 hours' visit, partly on board of the small train and partly on foot), Bèrbera
Mine (visit on foot and only upon reservation).

Admission fee.
Discounted rates.

It is possible to organise some educational labs for school groups.

Historical Info

From a geological point of view, Scalve Valley belongs to the the orographic complex of the Orobie PreAlps. The latter are rich in minerals, especially  ores, but also barite, copper, lead, zinc and fluorite.
In the past the iron mines have dramatically contributed to the subsistence of Scalve Valley inhabitants; they are located near Schilpario, along the  path leading to Campelli and Vivione Passes.
Presumably the exploitation of Scalve Valley mineral wealth began in 300  b.C.: some commercial documents from the 11th century recorded the  trade of 5 tons of iron per year.

For centuries consortium of small owners were in charge of the mining and  quarrying for this material. At that time, mining work was extremely hard  due to the inhumane conditions in which hundreds of men and teenagers had to work. When in 1930 firms such as Ilva, Breda and Falck took over,  modern technologies were introduced and an intense exploitation of the  mines continued until 1972, which is when the activity stopped because it  had become anti-economic.
The furnaces of Schilpario and Dezzo produced an enormous amount of  tools as well as arms (under the Venetians).

Exhibition Criteria

In the Ethnographic Museum of Schilpario, in a small lateral room on the ground floor, the mining activity is attested through photos, captions and some objects for the mining and transportation of the mineral.
Andrea Botticelli Mineral Park documents the human side of the mining industry in a complete and touching way. The park, inaugurated in June 1998, is an authentic mining Museum, which was open inside the so-called "Gaffione" heading. The first 2 km are by train, while the subsequent 1 km is on foot.
At the entrance of the gallery is Gaffione, at an altitude of 1244 m., about 4 km away from Schilpario, slightly below the mining village of Fondi, whose small church is dedicated to S. Barbara.
The itinerary project was implemented within 1 year's time by a group of local amateurs, whose "Ski-Mine Cooperative" aimed at keeping the memories of that hard word alive.

An experienced guide leads the visitors through the bowels of the mountain and explains the mining typology, mostly siderite and hematite, as well as quarrying and transportation methods. Some spotlights powered by a generator were put in place for the visitors; they replace the old acetylene lamps used by the miners.

Mining methods and tools were archaic: workers would dig into a heading until they found the "vein" and would then "cultivate" the mineral. "Chimneys" to follow the "vein"and "ponors" for the discharge of the iron ore are still present.
In the past, after being sorted, the ore was taken outside with some small baskets (of which some exemplars have been conserved) by the so-called "purtì" (12-13 year-old guys) who, being short, were very suitable to such a task. The trams for ore transportation were introduced at a later stage. The ore was piled up outside the mine and the so-called "strusì" pulled it down the river with dedicated sleds ("lese"). Some trams are conserved at the entrance of the mine and inside the heading, where the original trails still lie.

The mineral wealth of Scalve Valley is confirmed by two sections, which are connected both to the mining Museum and to the ethnographic Museum, and which conserved various types of minerals, mostly of local provenance.
One section is hosted by S. Marco hotel in the near Pradella hamlet, while the other one is in the historic Gregori palace (Schilpario, Padre Maj street). The latter was a gratuitous loan by its owner to the Town Hall, with the purpose of playing host to temporary exhibitions.

In both sections are some display cabinets exhibiting various minerals, from iron ores (siderite, pyrite, hematite) to copper minerals (malachite, azurite, chalcopyrite), from barite formations to aragonite crystals. This charming world of shapes and colors is a benefit to the historic and environmental heritage of Scalve Valley.

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