The hinterland of the Etruscan Coast is another hidden jewel of Tuscany. It’s spotted of lovely places, like the city of Piombino, and offers lots of attractions: one of them is the Archaeological-Mining Park of San Silvestro located near Campiglia Marittima in the Val Di Cornia Valley.
A visit to the mines: the Temperino Mine
The Park of San Silvestro was founded in 1996 over the large mining area for the extraction of minerals, that has been working for several centuries until 1978. As a matter of fact, there are traces of Etruscan activities dating back to 6th B.C., as well as medieval ruins.
The visit starts with an interesting guided tour to the Temperino Mine, counting 6 grades and several miles of galleries. During the tour, you can see the mineral richness of the area, including Etruscan and medieval wells, as well as a fascinating shaft of light-blue chrysocolla.
In addition, you can experience a bit of the heavy and hard life of miners. They used to work for 10 hours and had to fill up to 30 wagons with tons of rocks to get paid. They also had little tricks to survive and to feel the risk such as listening at the wood cracking, watching the behavior of rats, that would escape as soon as they feel the danger, and songbirds, that would die for toxic gas right away.
The Tunnel of Lanzi-Temperino and Rocca San Silvestro
After a short walk, you reach the Earle Shaft, now hosting the Museum of the Mining Machines, from where you can take a little yellow train. On board, you pass through the narrow tunnel of Lanzi-Temperino that was used to connect the Temperino Valley with the Lanzi Valley, i.e. the extracting area and the working area.
Then you can reach the abandoned village of Rocca San Silvestro by foot. This was a medieval village of metal miners and foundrymen dating back to 10th-11th centuries. There you can admire the old church, the cemetery, the residential and industrial area. In addition, a stunning view over the surroundings will be a great reward for a bit of hiking!
The Archeo-Mining Park of San Silvestro is part of the Val di Cornia Parks and includes also the Archaeological and Mineral Museum and several paths for hiking. It opens every day from 9.30am to 6.30pm in July and August, from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to dusk in June and September, and Saturday, Sunday and Holidays the rest of the year from 10 am to dusk. I suggest bringing with you a raincoat or a sweater since the temperature inside the mines is about 14°C, as well as comfortable shoes. For more information, I suggest you visit the official website of San Silvestro Park.