The history
of Quarries
The name Kaolin is of Chinese origin, Kao Ling, and it means high hills, with reference to the region near Jingdezhen, in the Chinese province of Jiangxi, where it was discovered in the 18th century.
The Quarries in history
The history of Quarries
Kaolin nowadays
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Kaolin in the Greek Age

The first proofs of the use of the Kaolin in Lipari date back to the Greek Age (4th-3rd century BC) and they are represented by some archaeological remains of daily life which were found in the galleries, such as amphorae, black-painted pottery shards, pots and cups that allowed the beggining of excavation to be established with certainty. The use of Kaolin in this era is clearly visible in the production of terracotta that were coated with a glossy white paint, similar to porcelain, that we can find them in models of theatrical masks and comic statuettes of the New Comedy, or in specimens of figured terracotta like the flower-women, the only ones documented in Sicily, and the flower-silene that were often offered as ex-voto in the churches. Around 300 BC, the Lipari Painter used the mineral for the production of beautiful coloured vases. They had an exceptional polychromy and a very original and unusual character. From the white kaolin mixed with the clay comes the light colour of its vases, on which he painted figures in bright colours, for the use of streaks of the impure mineral due to the presence of iron, manganese and sulphur.

The mining activity of the 20th century

The systematic mining activity of Kaolin began after the end of the Second World War, between 1945 and 1946, by various companies that succeeded each other on the island to start and activate the extraction: the Ditta Cicero of Terme Vigilatore, the Ditta Calce e Cementi of Segni and finally the Ditta Italcementi.
The mineral represented a source of development for the country, which until then was dedicated only to agriculture and pastoralism.
Initially the mining was carried out in the “gallery” in search of white veins, a typical method of the miners of the Greek age, and only later it was carried out in "open-air", from spring to late autumn. The extracted mineral was then moved by sailing ships to Castellamare di Stabia, Villafranca Tirrena and Colleferro.
The peak of mining activity occurred between 1959 and 1967. In 1969 the mining activity was suspended and then it ceased definitely in 1972.
Kaolin was employed for the production of white cement, used in the building field and in the production of ceramics, while the less pure Kaolin was destined to the soaps, colours and papers industry, especially for the coating, rubbers and detergents. It was even used in the pharmaceutical industry and in the production of beauty products.

From Italcementi Heidelberg to Tenuta di Castellaro

From the past activity today remain the quarries, some tunnel within which tracks and carts are visible, and an uncontaminated and wild environment which, due to its peculiarities, represents a geominerary and naturalistic open-air reserve, as well as a privileged observation point overlooking the sea, on the islands of Salina, Alicudi and Filicudi.
In 2016, Tenuta di Castellaro acquired the Quarries of Kaolin from Italcementi, Heidelberg group, with the aim of ensuring the conservation and the development of the environmental, historical and cultural heritage that this location represents, with total respect for memory and traditions.
The aim that Tenuta di Castellaro wants to pursue is to create a sustainable development of cultural and ecological tourism, in collaboration with the institutions, the Aeolian Studies Centre and the Nesos Association, through the organization of educational, artistic and cultural activities.