The Century-old Calvi Oil Can

la consegna della latta di olio rinvenuta in miniera

Summer 2020. We were finishing our explorations in the first mine we discovered in the Antrona valley. Several flooded, unsafe areas and some shafts had forced us to make more exits than necessary, but as always, the effort is rewarded.

From the first entrances we had noticed, on the large excavation of the third vein, a sub-vertical tunnel that goes up about ten meters.
Initially it seemed close to us, while subsequent explorations allowed us, using more powerful torches, to see a possible ravine on the right side.
This has never particularly interested us due to the difficulty in climbing it and the high probability that it would have been wasted effort.
During the last exploration, however, having some time left and having the rope with us, we decided to give it a try.
The base of the chimney was the beginning of a slope, full of debris and slippery.
In addition to this inconvenience, which already made it difficult to start the ascent, there was the fact that the fragile and friable rocks, especially in the first part, made the ascent difficult.
The help of the crowbar, stuck in a crack to act as a foothold was essential.
The drill bits, 4 in all, planted in the rock as the ancient miners had left them, were an excellent point of safety to anchor the rope, while climbing to the top of the chimney.

One wonders if the same peaks exploited by us to climb were exploited even a hundred years ago by the miners who built and climbed the chimney following the vein of gold ore.
On the top, in the niche about a couple of meters deep that we had glimpsed from below, this centuries-old can of Calvi oil, once lost, and now found, rested on the ground.
The oil that had partly soiled it during use in the mine a hundred years earlier and the area sheltered from the dripping water had made it arrive to us in an excellent state of conservation.
Once the discovery was documented with the usual photos, we placed it safely inside the caving bag and with the utmost care we took it down the chimney and then out of the mine.
We then contacted the Calvi company to tell them about the discovery.

Luca, the owner was immediately interested in repossessing this find, dating back to the beginnings of their company, and more precisely to the very first years of activity.
The company was in fact founded by their grandfather, together with his brother in 1921, and initially the name was Fratelli Calvi. Subsequently, following the war and other events, the two brothers went their separate ways.
Luca also explains to us that no cans or even drawings dating back to that time reached their hands and therefore it was a mystery to them how these first containers were made. A mystery that was unveiled on March 6, 2021, the day the find was returned to the owners’ hands.