A fantastic trip to explore the Capoliveri mines

A trip to the centre of Elba Island from Désirée Hotel

In the belly of Elba Island, in the Tuscan Archipelago National Park, lies a treasure trove of industrial archaeology: the Capoliveri iron mines, one of the most fascinating historical attractions on Elba, which can be easily reached by bike or with the guided tours organised by Désirée Hotel.

To understand the important contribution the mines made to the island, and to its economy in particular, we need to dig deep down into their 3000-year history, during which this area, which has always been rich in iron, became one of the most important mining centres in Italy, and today remains a strategically important reserve for the country.
Their long story, interrupted in 1980, is illustrated in the Vecchia Officina Museum, set up in the disused Vallone mining workshops, which can be reached by following the panoramic miners’ walk, running through splendid scenery with views of the beaches of Capoliveri, the little village itself and the slopes covered with Mediterranean shrub.
In the museum, period footage, mining tools, historical documents and machinery illustrate how the miners lived on an island they helped make wealthy with their hard work.

Centuries of history to explore

Elba underground, for adventure lovers

After a stop for a bite to eat in the picnic area opposite the museum, visitors can choose from a number of trekking routes that lead to the Ginevro Mine, the only one on Elba Island where you can still explore the underground galleries containing the largest magnetite deposits in Europe. Of the total 7-kilometre length of the mine, on 3 levels, there are two trekking routes that can be followed, each lasting 50 minutes.
The first runs for a kilometre through the old gallery, dating back to the period following WWII, along flat ground 6 metres above sea level, which can be tackled easily by both adults and children. In this first part of the Mine, water infiltrations have formed an unusual little underground lake, with shimmering reflections tending towards the red and orange shades typical of limonite.
The second level can be reached by climbing down a steep flight of 220 steps that descend to 24 metres below sea level. This level is characterised by dark tunnels cut into the rock, where you can still see the work tools and the carts used to transport the valuable heavy metal. Given the complexity of the route and the slipperiness of the ground, this fascinating itinerary is only accessible to visitors aged over 12.

Signs of the past

The island’s material legacy

When you emerge from the belly of the earth to the surface, you can continue the tour in the nearby Sassi Neri and Vallone mines. The former is a little open-air workshop on the north-eastern side of the coast, where the drilling and mining activity has created a small freshwater lake with a distinctive dark green colour, surrounded by the lush local vegetation.
The Vallone mine, one of the oldest on the island, has an easily recognisable amphitheatre shape that descends towards a beach of black and white sand created by the mining waste. Other signs of the intense activity the area was subjected to can be found in the abandoned mining equipment and structures that are still visible here, at rest after years of intense activity, covered by rust and salt deposits and looking towards the sea, their magnificently decadent shapes marking one of the wildest stretches of the Elba coastline.

Discover Elba island with Désirée Hotel


Marina di Campo



Sogear s.r.l.

Loc. Spartaia – 57030 Procchio – Marciana – Isola d’Elba (LI)
Tel. +39 0565 907311 Fax +39 0565 907884
Company Register Office Livorno
Registration number 00158410498
Company capital Euro 416,000.00


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    Sogear s.r.l.

    Loc. Spartaia – 57030 Procchio – Marciana – Isola d’Elba (LI)
    Tel. +39 0565 907311 Fax +39 0565 907884
    Ufficio del registro Imprese di Livorno
    Numero di iscrizione 00158410498
    Capitale societario Euro 416.000,00