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Choir of the Cardellini del Fontanino
Photo © Ambito Turistico Amiata
Photo © Ambito Turistico Amiata

The music of the Amiata woods and mines

Among the beech woods and underground tunnels of Mount Amiata, the folk songs of the woodsman and miners can still be heard

by  Amiata

The charming nature of Mount Amiata and the tradition of working in the forests and mines of the mountains has inspired many legends and traditions over the centuries – folk songs in particular, the bei (beautiful) songs of Castel del Piano and of the miners of Santa Fiora.

Those who visit these beautiful villages cannot miss the opportunity to also explore the woods and mines, where the voices and stories of its inhabitants still resound.

  • 1.
    The Cardellini of Castel del Piano
  • 2.
    The Choir of the Miners of Santa Fiora

The Cardellini of Castel del Piano

Castel del Piano is a lively and active village surrounded by fairy-tale woods that, especially in the past, were populated by the woodcutters that worked there. Walking along the silent paths of Mount Amiata to the bars and taverns of Castel del Piano, the woodcutters used to sing folk songs, with the typical A Capella Bei type of singing, characterized by basses, falsettos and second and third voices that imitate musical instruments through guttural sounds.

The songs, dating back to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, tell country stories in an ironic and Boccaccio-like way with the aim of mocking other people from the countryside, such as the parish priest, the pharmacist and the owners of farms. They speak of love, marriage, everyday life, and songs such as La pinottula and La Giulia which emerged with the return of the soldiers from the First World War.

Continuing this tradition, Ambrogio Ginanneschi established the Fontanino Cardellini Choir in 1952 with a dozen citizens who loved singing and who, dressing as woodcutters (with the typical brown cloth garment), re-established these songs and made them their own. Today, they can be heard at village festivals where the choir is always in attendance. 

The Choir of the Miners of Santa Fiora

Choir of the miners of Santa Fiora
Choir of the miners of Santa Fiora - Credit: Ambito Turistico Amiata

The history of Santa Fiora, included in the list of most beautiful villages in Italy, was known for mining activity in which cinnabar was extracted and mercury was produced. This led to the exploitation of miners and consequent protests for the rights of workers.

For those who want to delve into the dark and deep underground tunnels, they can be inspired by the voices of the miners themselves that have been passed down in their songs. Thanks to the Choir of Miners of Santa Fiora, it's possible to hear these songs that are part of the tradition of Santa Fiora and that tell of the lives and suffering of miners. The choir was formed in 2006 as part of an initiative by the Consultacultura cultural association for the recovery of the vast repertoire of folk music from Santa Fiora and the mining towns of Mount Amiata.

The mines are no longer active but have become an important tourist destination. Today, the Mercury Mining Museum of Monte Amiata in Santa Fiora is worth visiting, preserving the objects and tools of the miners.

Choir of the miners of Santa Fiora
Choir of the miners of Santa Fiora - Credit: Ambito Turistico Amiata

Santa Fiora and Castel del Piano are villages rich in tradition and music: visiting them and immersing yourself in their history also means exploring the typical Amiata beech woods, lightened by the ironic verses of folk songs.

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