Miners at the mining site in Marìgole, around 1960

WHERE WE ARE

The village of Darzo is located in Northern Italy, in the Southern-Western part of the Trentino Alto-Adige Region.
It lies not far from the renowned Lake Garda area. Very close to the enchanting Lake Ledro with its Prehistoric Pile dwellings and the impressive Dolomite Mountains peaks (Dolomiti di Brenta). Both sites which are part of the Unesco World Natural and Cultural Heritage list.
Darzo is also just three kilometres away from the emerald green Lake Idro, overlooked by the stunning San Giovanni Castle, once owned by the century long dynasty of the Lodron Family, and further south by the majestic Rocca d’Anfo fortress.
Further ancient mansions of the Lodron Family and great reminiscences of the front line that during World War One (1914-1918) divided the Italian Kingdom from the Austro-Hungarian empire (which Darzo once belonged) with impressive war fortresses, trenches, and monuments, are at close distance reachable by car, bike trails, or by foot.
The Barite Mines and their industrial processing plants of Darzo represent a major part of the reminiscences of the Industrial Heritage of the Twentieth century in the valley (Valle del Chiese), in addition to the impressive modern water dams and electric plants built along the Chiese river.






WHAT TO SEE
 

Since 2009 we have offered guided tours open to small groups of participants, typically in the summertime. The three hour long exploration and experience tour includes the sightseeing of the mural paintings located in the village centre of Darzo, a walking tour through the mountain, and an entrance into the cave. A full exploration of the mountain mining site and an explanation of the process, often given with the support of former workers.

Transportation by bus from the village (located at 410 meters above sea level) to the mining site of Marìgole (located at 1100 meters above sea level) is usually provided by the organisers. 
Make sure to dress appropriately (sneakers or light walking boots, sweater and windbreaker required)

GUIDED TOURS
For reservations and programme information, please contact us @:
Associazione La Miniera
Tel: +39 328.000.7711  e-mail: visite@minieredarzo.it  - www.minieredarzo.it

USEFUL LINKS 
Tourist Information Center of the Valle del Chiese (Consorzio Turistico della Valle del Chiese)
Valle del Chiese Heritage Center (Ecomuseo della Valle del Chiese)
Valle Sabbia and Lago (Lake) d'Idro Tourist Office
Visit Trentino

NEWS & EVENTS
La Miniera organizes, in co-operation with other local non profit organizations, cultural and social events to inform, raise awareness and involve the community, public authorities and the general public in the heritage project.
Part of the re-discovering of our heritage is, for example, the resuming, starting from 2011, of the December 4th celebration. That is the day devoted to Saint Barbara, patron saint of the mine workers. Traditionally it was the day for a get together of miners, workers and owners of the mining industries with a nice feast, traditional music and games, chatting, singing, drinking homebrewed wine and relaxing.
Listen to "The Miner's Song. Devoted to Saint Barbara" recorded live.
 



COME AND VISIT US!

CHECK OUT OUR POSTS. GIVE US A LIKE!



 
 

VISIT THE DARZO BARITE MINES IN TRENTINO

Guided tours are held every TUESDAY, FRIDAY, SATURDAY and SUNDAY, from 8 JULY to 11 SEPTEMBER 2016
Information in the flyer DOWNLOAD



ABOUT THIS WEBSITE
(IN A NUTSHELL)

This website recollects and fosters the Mining and Industrial Heritage of the Darzo village, located in Valle del Chiese, in the Trentino region of Italy.

The story begins in 1894, with the discovery of the first traces of a mineral named Barite (also spelled as Baryte) and continues until 2009, when the last enduring mines eventually closed down. It is the story of hundreds of workers, both males and females; several generations of families and entrepreneurs in a dramatic landscape; economic change along material and emotional inheritances; bonded together.

It involves also the surrounding towns in the Valle del Chiese -i.e.: Storo, Lodrone, Riccomassimo, Bondone, Baitoni, Condino…- and of the Sabbia Valley -i.e.: Ponte Caffaro, Bagolino, Anfo… located in the nearby Lombardy region.

You can find here, translated into English, a summary of the main contents of the website www.minieredarzo.it and basic information on how to reach us and visit our sites.   


DIGGING INTO THE PAST, CONNECTING WITH THE PRESENT
Over a century of mining history (1894-2009) is perhaps just a little mark in human history. Yet, it means a whole era in our local history. Especially now, after the closing down of the last mining site, after 115 years of excavations.

In view of this, in 2005, the community-based cultural volunteer organization, 
Pro loco started a heritage project named “Along the Mining Trails” (La Strada delle Miniere). Aimed at re-discovering and highlighting the recent past, among the activities realized three murals dedicated to the mining heritage were painted. Two were done by local artists and one by a class of students from an Art School. These colourful murals bring to life the story of the Darzo Miners seen from different perspectives. More than 30 families in town, as well as local authorities and the local co-operative bank helped to support this activity financially. 

At the same time interviews of former miners and workers, males and females, were conducted (over 10 hours of footage) and kept for records, while parts were cut to make the hour long documentary DVD circulated among the local schools, libraries and people.

Press articles, videos, and books highlight these cultural events.

Started as a grassroots project, later (2009-2011) turned into a larger research project, involving anthropologists and sociologists of the University of Trento. A product of this co-operation has been the book, based on the change of local social patterns and influences due to a century of mining industries: “L’Oro Bianco di Darzo. Ritratto di un paese (White Gold of Darzo, Portrait of a Town, 2010). And the video documentary, “Minör” (Miners), filmed by a professional director and devoted to the very last days of the mining site of Marìgole, before its shutting down. The video documentary was presented at the 58th edition of the Trento FilmFestival 2010.

(1) THE HIDDEN TREASURE 
The small village of Darzo is located in the foothills of a mountain range once nicknamed the “golden mountain”, for its rich vegetation and variety of produce. Until unexpectedly, at the end of the Nineteenth Century, in the heart of the mountain, a new, hidden treasure was discovered. It was near the places where in the summer cattle habituated to quietly linger in the alpine pasture land and skilled cheesemakers made the unique Trentino butter and cheeses; wood charcoal makers set up their fires and farmers and lumberjacks trailed their logs downhill. The treasure was a mineral deposit of Barite. Then nicknamed “white gold”, for its pure colour and extremely good quality. Tons of Barite was excavated from the Darzo deposits, to serve the domestic and international markets.

(2) WHAT IS BARITE 
Barite is the primary, naturally occurring, barium-based mineral. From the Greek word “baros” meaning heavy because of its high specific gravity (4.5g/cm) as compared with other non-metallic minerals. Barite has many uses.
Currently it is used in a wide variety of applications such as, paint, plastics, brake linings, rubber mud flaps, mold release compounds, radiation shielding, television and computer monitors, sound-deadening material in automobiles, traffic cones, and golf balls.
The kind of Barite extracted in Darzo was of prime quality: very pure, of a brilliant white colour, containing no or little minerals oxides.
One of the most important applications is in the Oil Drilling Industry. The overwhelming majority of the barite that is mined today around the world is used by the petroleum industry as a weighting agent. Also in the Medical Industry, an application of the high-purity form of barite, known as barium meal, is used in the gastrointestinal tract where its density prevents x-ray penetration, and thus is visible in an X-ray or CAT scan.

(3) NEW INDUSTRY, NEW JOBS AND NEW SOCIAL PATTERNS 
The barite mining industry that, over a span of a century, emerged, flourished and declined in the Darzo area, changed the way of living for the local population dramatically. From an economy of subsistence based mainly on mountain agriculture, turned into a thriving small and medium enterprise area, which generated and grew parallel to the growing, demanding mining industry. This mitigated, especially in the aftermath of the Second World War, the emigration of young male workers overseas (US and Australia) or to other European countries (Switzerland, Germany, France…) and or to Northern Italian urban, industrial cities. The Barite (or Barium Sulphate, BaOS4, according to its chemical formula) excavated from the Darzo Mountains has become a familiar name in hundreds of families and generations of miners and workers. The mining industries, owned by entrepreneurs coming from the nearby region of Lombardy (Corna Pellegrini, Maffei and Cima), attracted workers not only from the village of Darzo but from the surrounding towns as well, people from Storo, Lodrone, Riccomassimo, Bondone, Baitoni, and the Valleys surrounding (Valle Camonica, Valle Sabbia, Valle Vestino…). They were employed as miners, as well as in other processing jobs: millers-grinders, mechanics, stone-cutters, electricians, carpenters to serve the booming processing enterprises. Hundred of female workers, usually young women before their marriage, were employed for the first time in a factory. Their job was sorting and classifying the raw minerals. This opportunity decreased the number of the young women forced to migrate to big cities to serve as housemaids or family carers. Full-time farmers became at first cart, then later truck drivers, employed by the local mining companies or self-employed, to transport the grinded mineral to several different industries located in the cities of Milan, Bologna, Genova and even to Rome and Naples.

(4) PORTRAITS OF A MINE 
Over hundred and thirty interviews by former employees (miners, female and male factory workers, clerks) of the barite processing industries 
and their entrepreneurs, who served in the Darzo mines, are recollected in this section of the website named "Ritratti di miniera" (Portraits of a Mine). They were recorded and transcripted from October 2010 to December 2014. The plan is to continue further on this project, encompassing former barite mines workers scattered in the nearby areas.

WHO WE ARE
This website is promoted and managed by La Miniera Associazione di promozione sociale, which is a non profit organization, whose aims - shared with other community-based volunteer organizations (such as: Pro Loco Darzo, Asuc Darzo, Gruppo Alpini Darzo) and local public authorities - are to continue recollecting and telling the stories of the recent past, based on the inheritances and resources of the present, while possibly contributing to designing a new future for our community.

CONTACT US 
The best way to contact us is either by e-mail
info@minieredarzo.it
or mobile phone +39 3282419981



   Follow us on Facebook - Give us a "Like"