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Art & Culture

Alto Adige

South Tyrol: underground adventures in mines

The mountains of Trentino-South Tyrol hide real underground treasures. For centuries, these precious raw materials have been extracted through the hard work of miners. Large quantities of silver, copper, zinc and lead have come to light, quenching the thirst of researchers. Today, everyone can visit the interior of the old mines in South Tyrol, now disused but fascinating quarries. Let's walk through some of them together, to relive their history.

1. Villandro Mine: a labyrinth of gold treasure

Grab your helmet, headlamp, rain jacket and the adventure can begin. It starts in Villandro, which in the Middle Ages was one of the most significant mining areas throughout Tyrol. Having fallen into oblivion after being closed at the beginning of the last century, the public can now visit it again. 

Once you reach the Fundres Mountains in Eisack Valley, you can descend into the 25 kilometres of tunnels carved into the rock and explore the ancient labyrinth of Elisabeth and Laurence. Open your eyes wide, not only to admire the iridescent colours of the minerals, but above all because gold can be found in the Villandro mine.

2. Ridanna Mine: testimony of the industrial revolution

This is the most spectacular mine in South Tyrol, which saw the birth of a modern industrial ore enrichment plant 150 years ago

Powerful machines ready to crush and grind rock, large flotation tanks separating the ore and a huge continuous feeding plant made the Ridanna mine witness to the industrial revolution

Then there’s an open-air transport facility on rails, the largest in the world, equipped with sloped and tracks for pulling with horses. It was pure avant-garde for its time. 

You’ll drive through the Poschhaus tunnel, which crosses Monteneve for about six kilometres, and then come out in Val Passiria. During the tour you’ll actively participate with a hammer, shovel, hoe and sieve.

3. Predoi and Cadipietra Mine: copper, climate centre and exhibition

The Predoi mine in Aurina Valley is a true masterpiece of mining skill: the St Ignatius tunnel was excavated by hand using very simple tools. Thanks to the restoration of the old railway, you can board the small train that takes you inside the 250-metre-long tunnels, accompanied by expert guides. You’ll learn about the history of this mine, which experienced its heyday 600 years ago when it was among the largest copper producers in Italy.

The highlight is at a depth of 1,100 metres, where you can visit the Predoi Climate Centre right inside the mountain, with its ultra-pure air. 

A permanent exhibition of photos, audio reproductions and personal items in Cadipietra and part of the Provincial Mining Museum will teach you about South Tyrol's mining companies and the fascinating biographies of the miners who marked this region’s history.