Mineral Park of Cortabbio
Mining is a magical world steeped in history where every visitor, big and small, can go back to the past and discover the wonders of the subsoil and identify with those anonymous men who have contributed to picking out our territory.
Our guides are ready to accompany you on this trip to the mines on Lake Como. With the reopening of the Primaluna mines it is now possible to penetrate the bowels of the Grigna: 1,000 meters of illuminated galleries to travel through time and space, discovering a place full of charm and history.
Here, since the mid-nineteenth century barite, barium sulphate, has been extracted, a useful and precious substance used for many purposes, from the food industry to that of paper, up to the use in the medical field. Along the path that winds through the galleries you come across an extraordinary environment, full of unpredictable colors and precious artifacts, like the tools used by miners in their hard work. Leonardo da Vinci also noticed this. Between 1482 and 1513, he visited these areas on several occasions.
On the Atlantic Codex he wrote:
Iron, copper, silver, lead and other minerals: Valsassina has always been rich. Melting furnaces, bellows, forges, strong arms and skilled hands over the centuries have forged swords, nails, cannon balls, agricultural tools and everything that could be produced from the extracted and processed metals. For centuries the noise of knitting has resounded in the valley.
We imagine a beautiful day in the mid-nineteenth century. Mr. Vanotti, a primary school teacher, walks quietly in the woods above Primaluna when he notices an outcrop of white rocks different from the others. Driven by his inquiring spirit he detaches some small pieces and takes them to Milan to have them analyzed.
This is how the great barite reservoir in Cortabbio was discovered, which, from that moment on, and for more than a century and a half, has given work and livelihood to hundreds of people. In the early days, the mineral was removed directly from the outcrops, then tunnels were dug into the side of the mountain at ever deeper levels, to access the rich lower strands and make the excavation work more profitable. The visit includes a total length of about 2 km, with a duration estimated in 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Along the way it crosses the white mineralized strand of Barite and reaches the majestic cave from where the mineral has been extracted in the last 30 years. Alternatively, an external path of about 2.5 km leads visitors to the cableway and the various entrances, until reaching the oldest mines where you can look out over the deep ravine left by the first open-air excavations.