The Old Workshop Museum
At the entrance of the Calamita mine, in the heart of the Tuscan Archipelago National Park, the Old Workshop Museum, housed in the workshops of the Vallone Construction site (6 km from Capoliveri) will welcome you.
There you will find the history of mining, quarrymen and the environment where they lived, reconstructed with original furnishings and objects, old documents and maps, pictures and videos of traditional Capoliveri.
You will discover everyday life and tales of the miners, mining techniques, characteristics and possible uses of the iron minerals. All this is housed in the richest and largest construction site of Capoliveri, surrounded by nature, culture and the beautiful sea. A great opportunity to get to know the area of Capoliveri, the Museum, is the starting point of several trekking paths, guided tours of the underground mines and the open air building sites, beaches and trails of Monte Calamita.
In the heart of the Earth
The thrill of the underworld, the charm of the past and the touching memory of the men who experienced it will accompany you along the roads of the Ginevro underground mine.
Wear a helmet, enjoy the view and get involved by the mine guides with many stories to tell along the way.
Inside the galleries you will find the history of Capoliveri, the miners’ anecdotes, the ancient work tools, trains, winches and the hammers used for digging 7 km of roads in the rock, up to -54 meters below sea level.
Without facing slopes or challenging routes you will discover the unusual landscapes of the mine shaft and how it looked like working, struggling, eating and living in the mine.
Collecting the Minerals
A good dose of curiosity, attentive eyes and the will to learn are the right equipment to discover the minerals of Calamita.
The mine guides give good tips, curiosities, stories and a little hammer to experience the day of the geologist in search of treasures hidden in the oldest rocks of the island. Magnetite, Pyrite, Hematite and Limonite are the treasures, rich in iron, of miners and collectors, attracted by the shapes and colours of these minerals.
Chalk appears in small and beautiful yellow crystals, grown over the Limonite. The red and yellow Ochres, rich in iron, stain a little bit the fingers so you will understand why, after a fine grinding, they were used to make colours for painting houses and churches of the island.
Blue and green reveal the presence of Azurite, Chrysocolla and Malachite, all copper minerals. Ilvaite, Garnets, Calcite and Aragonite will gratify the most careful seekers.
The Route of The Old Railway
Our environmental tour guides will accompany you with their competence and friendliness along the various paths between Capoliveri and Calamita mines; the paths are accessible to everyone.
The path covers the old railway track which used to connect the open air construction site of the Vallone to the boarding location, near the Innamorata beach, right in front of the Gemini Islands. The steam railway, born in the early years of the twentieth century, represented a step forward for the transportation of the iron ore. From the mine to the dock, a train was running 6 km every day, loaded with Magnetite, Hematite, and Limonite to be taken on board of the merchant ships that were waiting in the bay.
The blast furnace of Portoferraio, which had just been built, required huge quantities of ore to produce cast iron and steel.
The iron was the Island’s biggest treasure therefore almost all men of Elba worked for this thriving industry either in the plants or excavations.
The trail takes us back along the railway, following the thread of this long history, through fast historical, economic and social changes, in order to discover the roots of the Capoliveri inhabitants.
The path of the Miners
The starting point of this route is Piazza del Cavatore; we follow the sign to the police station and once passed by it, after a few meters of unpaved road, we find a crossroad: we take the steeper road and we face an uphill a bit challenging for about 30 minutes; we will be rewarded by the splendid view of Capoliveri, Portoferraio and Porto Azzurro.
Nearby are several parking areas, bars, restaurants, a pharmacy, the city hall and the info point. We follow the path of the miners to the Galleria del Ginevro, on the southernmost point of the Mount Calamita. We are on the path 82.
After a break to take photos we go straight, following the crest of the Mount Calamita, taking a look at the typical scrub vegetation and reforestation areas. If we pay attention, it’s not unusual to meet Pheasants, Hoopoes and other migratory birds and also birds of prey like the Peregrine Falcon and the Buzzard. An hour walk and we are at the crossroad between the paths 70 and 82; we begin to descend towards the "Tenuta delle Ripalte", with its vineyards and large wine cellar, which we will cross before arriving at the Ginevro site.
Once passed the Ripalte wine cellar, we cross its vineyards and shortly after we find another crossroad: on the left is the mine, marked by the sign of the State property, on the right the sign for Remaiolo, a beautiful beach with a restaurant. Once on the mine road we stop to observe better the extraction facilities and processing of the ore: the tower that stands in the square in front of us is the extraction castle. It was once used to retrieve Magnetite from underground, already crushed into small pieces, at -54 meters below sea level!
The conveyor belt carried the mineral to the plant made of tiers that we see on the cliff, called washery: there, the iron ore was magnetically separated from the sterile part, less rich in iron oxides and then carried by road or by sea to the mining facilities. The processing waste was dropped into the sea, changing forever the coastline: the black space overlooking the sea, where our walk ends, was once a small bay!
We look carefully the dark colour, from red to black, of the rocks: the Magnetite that was dug here is the best iron ore in the world, with a percentage of approximately 80%.
We continue to descend, passing under the conveyor belt, to the sea, just near the entrance of the only underground mine of Elba, the most important deposit of iron in Europe, closed in 1981 due to the competition of developing countries. With the tour guides of Calamita mine you can visit the underground worksite and discover the incredible maze of roads, wells and chasms dug in the hard rock as well as the life of the underground miners.
The Calamita loop
This is certainly one of the most beautiful scenic paths of Capoliveri; there are no difficulties nor great slopes and it overlooks the entire coast of the headland, allowing you to discover the variety and the beauty of the bays as well as the wildest and the most peaceful coves, the imprint of the mine in the landscape and one unusual view of Capoliveri from up high, with Stella Gulf as a background. Approximately 11,5 km long, the path winds through the Tuscan Archipelago National Park, among pine woods and Mediterranean bush, characterized by Rockrose, Broom, Mastic, Erica and Rosemary.