The medieval village, home to the miners
ROCCA SAN SILVESTRO
Time: 40 minutes
Rocca San Silvestro is the medieval village in the Archaeological Mines Park of San Silvestro, once inhabited by miners and metal smelters, built between the 10th and 11th centuries on the initiative of the Della Gherardesca counts to exploit the rich copper and argentiferous lead deposits in the Val di Cornia.
The metals were used to strike coins at the Tuscan mints, first Lucca and then Pisa, thanks to the trade relations the counts had with these cities.
In Medieval times, the village was known by the name of Rocca a Palmento (indeed, a millstone, or “palmentum”, was discovered in the oil press below the church) and it owes its current name to the saint the church was dedicated to.
The abandonment, in the 1930s, was the result of many factors, primarily economic, due to changes in how the mineral resources were managed.
The guided visit twists and turns through the ruins of houses, the church, the cemetery, the aristocratic area and the industrial zone, a walk that helps understand the social and economic organisation and the everyday life of a medieval community.
THE “MEDIOEVO IN CORSO” WORK SITE
“Medioevo in corso” is an experimental archaeology project that aims to reconstruct a real work site/laboratory on Medieval Age construction techniques in the Archaeological Mines Park of San Silvestro, at the foot of the Rocca, thanks to the expertise and coordinated work of archaeologists and craftsmen.
The work site activities have so far led to the reconstruction of a mortar mixer, a small house based on those discovered in the village and an oven for baking bread and the raw ceramic used in the village.
What you need to know before the tour: The Rocca can be reached from an equipped uphill trail; we recommend that you wear trainers or trekking shoes. The walk from the Valle Lanzi station in Rocca San Silvestro takes around 20 minutes. In the summer it is advisable to bring water and a sun hat with you.
The 16th century Villa Lanzi, commissioned by Cosimo I De’ Medici for the skilled miners he brought from Germany to work in the Campiglia mines, stands in the Archaeological Mines Park of San Silvestro.
This ancient structure, next to the Palazzo Gowett Hostel in Valle Lanzi and that faces Rocca di San Silvestro, is now the Documentation Centre where the studies, research work and projects regarding the territory of the Val di Cornia are collected and conserved and where there are the archives of the documents of the mining company that worked at Campiglia until the 1970s.
Immersed in the peace and quiet of the Campiglia Marittima hills, the villa has large, luminous rooms and is the ideal venue for training course, seminars, round tables and conferences.
For more information about the spaces and rental tariffs, see the page about Villa Lanzi.