A Geopark is a well-defined area that is large enough to be able to contribute to the sustainable development of the local economy. It includes geological sites and geotopes recording the history of the planet and the evolution of the landscape over time. It may also include archaeological and historical sites or other types of site of a cultural or scientific nature. Such sites must be linked and have the same aim of conservation, taking advantage of their available resources. The local population and the public and private bodies involved also play an essential role in supporting the Geopark and ensuring its continued existence. Given these requirements, the Alta Valsugana and Bersntol Mining Park sees itself as a fit candidate for recognition as a Geopark. Its various sites bear witness to the natural processes that have created a unique area. Mines, hot springs and whole underground worlds are just some of the local geological treasures. Here culture, nature and entertainment come together to offer an exceptional tourist product. The only Geopark to have been recognised to date in Trentino by the EGN (European Geoparks Network) and GNN (Global Geoparks Network of the UNESCO) is the Adamello Brenta Geopark (ABG).
We remember gold rushes from those old Westerns. Then as now, or even in the more distant past, rushing after or merely pursuing mineral wealth is literally a back-breaking activity. The attraction in the mines of Calisio were the veins of argentiferous galenas (ores yielding lead and silver) that pulled the miners breathless into the depths of the earth. While local inhabitants had been content merely to scratch at the surface, hardier miners were sought north of the Alps. In 1136 in Freiberg, in central Saxony, a huge deposit of silver was discovered by chance, drawing 30,000 miners to the area over a period of only three decades. They were the so-called Canopi (from the German Bergknappe, meaning miner) who were summoned by the Prince Bishops or drawn by their own hunger to our mountains to dig underground, struggle for survival and then disappear as mysteriously as they had arrived. Very little is known of them. Maybe they were like the gnomes of fairy stories. They were reputed to be short, often travelling bent over, lamp in hand. They protected their heads from the water dripping from the rock walls with pointed hats that also served to locate the level of the “ceilings” of the tunnels and avoid head injury. They wore comfortable clothes, probably long shirts that would not impede their movements despite the cold and damp, and a sort of leather skirt known as batticulo allowing them to sit and help the water to run off their backs. They lived in makeshift shelters and when they discovered the taverns of the town of Pergine, they soon grew to love wine, spending and sharing around their meagre earnings. But as we know, a gold or silver rush can often become a fever, and the hope of finding that largest of nuggets strengthened their resolve and fed their hunger for fortune.