Introduction: Life in the mine

Sulfur mine Sicily
Children in front of a match, 1899

In Montedoro there is an educational park, where you can enter an old mine from the 19th century. In fact, in south-central Sicily in the early 19th century, the land was heavily exploited for sulfur mining. This was obtained in the mines and exported all over the world.

However, it was not only the territory that was exploited, but also the people, especially the children . In fact, given their height they were more suitable for mining. Very hard work, which involved pickaxing rock underground at extremely high temperatures. After that, sulfur was transported to the surface, in sacks weighing up to 80 kg.

Accidents were also frequent and many adults and children lost their lives in the mines. He risked his life for little money, while only the owners of the lands got rich.

Written testimony of life in the mine

This is a written account of Sidney Sonnino and Lepoldo Franchetti in the book “Sicily in 1876,” two politicians of the time

“… Each pickaxe employs an average of 2 to 4 guys. These boys called carusi, are employed from 7 years upwards; the greatest number counts from 10 to 16 years.

With loads of mineral on their backs, they walk the narrow tunnels dug in steps in the mountain, with sometimes very steep slopes , and the angle of which varies on average from 50 to 80 degrees. There is no regularity in the steps in the galleries; they are generally taller than wide, and he barely puts his foot on them. The galleries on average are about 1.30 to 1.80 meters high, and 1 to 1.20 meters wide, but often less than 0.80 meters; and the steps high from 0.20 to 0.40 meters; and depths from 0.15 to 0.20 meters.

The children work underground from 8 to 10 hours a day , having to make a certain number of trips, that is to transport a certain number of loads from the excavation tunnel to the base that is formed in the open air. Children employed outdoors work 11 to 12 hours.

The load varies according to the age and strength of the boy, but it is always much higher than what a creature of tender age can carry, without serious damage to health, and without danger of being crippled. The little ones carry on their shoulders, incredible to say, a weight of 25 to 30 kilos; and those of sixteen to eighteen up to 70 and 80 kilos and carried it to the surface with containers on their backs going up the narrow tunnels hundreds of times. Everything was led by the overseers or foremen.

At the beginning of the 1900s, however, the sulfur mines in Sicily slowly went into crisis, as more advanced technologies for extraction began to be used in America. Following the wars then the extraction decreased further, until then all the mines were closed.

The museum, the mine and the astronomical observatory

Photo from the Facebook page Astronomical Observatory And sulfur museum .

Montedoro mine
Montedoro Astronomical Observatory
Montedoro Astronomical Observatory
Montedoro Astronomical Observatory
Montedoro Astronomical Observatory
Montedoro Astronomical Observatory
Montedoro Astronomical Observatory
Montedoro Astronomical Observatory

The Montedoro educational park offers 4 magnificent experiences in 4 different structures: the astronomical observatory, the planetarium, the Zolfara museum and the museum houses . In the observatory you will be able to observe the stars and planets with a telescope, in the planetarium live simulations of astronomical travels, in the museum discover the history of miners and dive into a mine and finally, in the museum houses, you can also enter the ancient miners’ houses.

The price is 4 Euros per structure and if you buy a ticket for one structure, the next ones cost only 2 Euros and you will be accompanied by a guide. The view from here on the town of Montedoro is also fantastic.

To visit the educational park it is necessary to book by calling +39 345 424 3223 or by sending an email to [email protected].

Each structure has a price of 4 makes available very interesting, which shows the life that had the miners of the territory of montedoro.

How to get

Activities loved by tourists in the surrounding area or in Sicily in general

What to see in the surroundings

Montedoro and the museum are located in the province of Caltanissetta. Here you will find the most beautiful places to visit around Caltanissetta .

Typical dishes of the area

If you are interested in eating typical dishes in the Caltanissetta area (Of which Montedoro is part) Here you will find a list on what to eat in Caltanissetta and surroundings.

Here instead you find the typical Sicilian dishes in general.