The Historical and Ethnographic Museum of Miners and Quarrymen is located on the mountain in Pescia at 600m above sea level, in the historic lands of Vellano, home of the “dieci castella”, ten fortified medieval villages. The village still retains much from its glory days, including a piazza with a historic clock, a church that was once a Benedictine abbey in the 11th century, the San Michele castle chapel that dates back to Roman times and streets that speak of war and invasion, of constant defendes and reconstructions, of a simple and free life.
In the hills surrounding the village are several pietra serena quarries; sources of repute for the country and its craftsmen and which have employed local miners for years. None of the mines have been lost over time, but only one is still active, unfortunately. The history of the village can still be felt in the streets, whether on quiet weekdays, or on lively Sundays, or at parties and other events which attract visitors. The cultural life of the village is still active as it offers opportunities and activities for all who visit, even those that are hard to please.
Working with stone has always been in the blood of the people of Vellano, from miners to stone masons, and evidence of this can be seen in the little masterpieces of ornamentation on the streets, bridge parapets, window sills and more throughout the town and the region.
Back in the day there was even a school here where stone craftsmen would learn the basics of their trade. Work was mainly carried out during the summer and it was very common to find two or three craftsmen on the side of the road, dust-ridden and serious, in the process of extracting pieces that, based on their expertise, they deemed suitable. During the winter, when it was not possible to work in the mines, many of the craftsmen travelled throughout Italy and even abroad to find work and to make the most of their skills and experience.
A member of this group of skilled workers was Lino Biaginin, who, in memory of his father and of all those stone workers who beautified the centre of Vellano, started a guided tour to show visitors the work of these great men: their tools, the quarries and more.
In addition to guided tours into the mine with experts, there are around 2,000 publications on the subject, and 100 audiovisual cassettes which can be borrowed upon request. On location are photocopy and fax facilities, and opportunities to buy minerals, souvenirs and gifts made from local stone.