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Locatelli Salt mine


Discovering the rock salt deposits of Saline di Volterra

Volterra’s salt mines have been exploited since the time of the ancient Etruscans and have always been a very important resource for the area. From here the ancient caravans of donkeys, laden with sacks of salt, set out to reach through the salt roads to warehouses scattered in the more distant lands.

In the 18th century, Grand Duke Leopold increased production by building new factories, thus decreeing the birth of a town called Saline di Volterra. The salt mine then came under state control and in the 1990s was privatized. Today it produces about 150,000 tons/year of salt with a minimum purity of 99.9 percent, so it is also called the purest salt in Italy.

Salt is extracted by pumping water underground and then extracting the brine that has formed: refining, evaporation and centrifugation processes then follow. Unlike some basins (e.g., in southern Germany) of rock salt extraction, where it is possible to proceed by caving in salt blocks, in Valdicecina this is not possible because the deposits are composed of lenses, ranging in thickness from 1 to 30 meters, included in clays.

A visit to the factory includes an exhibition path that traces the history of the Salt mine, from the State Monopoly to the stories and testimonies of the men and women who have worked there.

Reservations are required to visit the Locatelli Salt mine.

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