Kaolin Quarries (Lipari)

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The kaolin quarries of Lipari are one of the most suggestive places of the whole island. From here you can enjoy one of the most beautiful landscapes of the Aeolian Islands and admire nature in all its amazing colors. To make your visit unique, you can buy the basket prepared by Tenute Castellaro to enjoy a romantic aperitif at sunset.

What is kaolin?

Kaolin is a sedimentary rock consisting primarily of kaolinite, an aluminum-hydroxylated mineral. It was first identified in 1709 by the German alchemist Johann Friedrich Böttger. This discovery made it possible to develop a porcelain recipe with a quality comparable to Chinese porcelain. The name kaolin comes from the Chinese region of Gaoling, which had a thriving porcelain industry as early as the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD). It was from this area that the French Jesuit François Xavier d’Entrecolles sent the first objects made of this extraordinary material to Europe in the early 18th century. Kaolin is used in so many industrial processes: from construction to food to pharmaceuticals.

History of the Lipari Kaolin Quarries

The use of the Lipari Kaolin Quarries dates back to Greek times, between the 4th and 3rd centuries BC. Various everyday objects found in the tunnels, such as amphorae, fragments of black-painted pottery, pots and cups, bear witness to this. The systematic mining of kaolin dates back to the period after the Second World War, between 1945 and 1946. The peak of mining activity was between 1959 and 1967, but two years later, in 1969, mining was suspended and finally stopped in 1972. In 2016 Castellaro Estates bought the kaolin quarries, restored them and opened them to the public.

Kaolin and the Lipari Painter

The so-called Lipari Painter is an anonymous artist who lived in the 3rd century B.C. and was famous for the style in which he painted his vases. One of the secrets of his success was the use of kaolin in combination with clay to create very light vases, which made his colorful paintings stand out even more. One of the most famous examples of the Lipari painter is the Crater of the Tuna Seller, kept in the Mandralisca Museum in Cefalù.

A visit to the kaolin quarries of Lipari

The visit to the kaolin quarries is free of charge. Tenuta Castellaro organizes guided tours in Italian, English and German. The itinerary lasts about 3 hours and is one of the most beautiful trekking routes on Lipari. After passing through gorges, cliffs and vineyards, you will reach the Baths of San Calogero, a former 19th century spa, now a museum. You can reach the kaolin quarries by bus, taxi or your own transport. In fact, there is a large free parking area. For those who decide to use public transport, the bus stop is only 8 minutes walk from the entrance and the bus can be taken at the port of Lipari. Finally, there is the possibility of using contracted 8-seater taxis, and the cost is 25 euros one way.

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