A large mine scars the mountainside of the mountain range that envelops this tiny alpine town. Closed decades ago, it now acts like an outdoor museum that lets the few visitors who wander into the dwindling settlement catch a glimpse of a lifestyle slowly fading into the past. It’s possible to tour the site to sneak a peek at the daily reality centuries of miners experienced.
For millennia, the village largely revolved around mining zinc and lead from Monte Re. Though the industry is first officially mentioned in a 1320 deed, it’s believed the Romans were extracting metals from the mountain as early as 800 BC. The town’s symbol, two crossed hammers, adorns many of the buildings.
Though the huge cave opening and the tunnels into the mountain are the most obvious hint at the village’s mining past, its industrial history extends much further below the surface. Old mining tunnels snake underneath the village, creating an underground labyrinth of sorts. Sadly, these tunnels once led to a tragic accident. In 1910, one of their walls collapsed and caused a crater that essentially swallowed the village hospital. A monument and plaque now mark where the building once stood.
The tunnels, besides gobbling up hospitals and letting miners travel below the village, also served another purpose. During World War I, the Austro-Hungarian forces used the underground network to ferry in soldiers and weapons in preparation for the Battle of Caporetto, which ended in a disastrous defeat for the Italians.
The small, isolated alpine settlement practically feels like a ghost village. After the mine shut down in 1991, the population rapidly fell to roughly 400 people and continues to dwindle. It isn’t uncommon to find yourself wandering empty streets with nary a soul in sight. It feels especially harsh in winter, when layers of snow cover the roads and wrap around the buildings.
Know Before You Go
The GPS coordinates lead to the old mine. Coming from Sella Nevea, just before the town, there's thePredil lake, a beautiful alpine lake.