Make your own free website on
(Pg. 18)
La Rocca Pg. 13 (San Donato Church)
La Rocca Pg. 14 (people / places)
La Rocca Pg. 15 (people / places)
La Rocca Pg. 16 (people / places)
La Rocca Pg. 17 (places to stay / eat)
La Rocca Pg. 18 (Asphalt Mines)
La Rocca Pg. 19 (Asphalt Mines)
La Rocca Pg. 20 (Churches)
La Rocca Pg. 21 (Churches)
La Rocca Pg. 22 (people/places)
La Rocca Pg. 23 (people/places)
La Rocca Pg. 24 (people/places)
La Rocca Pg. 1 (history/photos)
La Rocca Pg. 2 (Santo Spirito)
La Rocca Pg. 3 (San Bartolomeo)
La Rocca Pg. 4 (photos)
La Rocca Pg. 5 (photos)
La Rocca Pg. 6 (photos)
La Rocca Pg. 7 (festa)
La Rocca Pg. 8 (the old ways)
La Rocca Pg. 9 (the old ways)
La Rocca Pg. 10 ("Lu Sand'Andune")
La Rocca Pg. 11 (La Rocca's Sand'Andune)
La Rocca Pg. 12 (Don Donato Bianco)
                      ** A special Thank you to Donato DiPronio for letting me use some of the material about the mines from his book
and to Joanne deRubeis and Blaise DiPronio for their translations**

Besides the raising of sheep and goats for cheese, meat  and wool, which still continues on a smaller scale today , asphalt mining was a significant industry in Roccamorice and the surrounding area.  Asphalt had been mined in this area on and off since Roman times.   In 1840 Silvestro Petrini of Bisenti, Teramo rediscovered a layer of asphalt in the Maiella area, and by 1844 he had begun the first modern-era industrial establishment in Abruzzo for the manufacturing of bituminous semi-solid, asphalt substances in Gesu Cristo Vallebona near the Lavino River.

   Bitumen was the Roman name for an asphalt used as a cement or mortar.  It may be crude petroleum, asphalt or tar.  It is usually dark in colour and may contain sulphur as well.  For years farmers used the material to patch roofs and waterproof their buildings.  Shepherds used it to light fires around the "stazzi" (corrals of animals) to keep predators away .

    In 1873 after various companies had extracted petroleum from various places in the area, a company called" Anglo-Italiana degli Oli Minerali a Bitumi Limited" was formed and started working a 9 km. square area in the territories of San Valentino and Roccamorice .

     For a number of years an Austrian engineer-Signore Arno Reichenback (the miners nicknamed him-"Ruscimbacc") ran the mines  along with Ruggiero Petrini (son of Silvestro) who constructed the railroads. The mines grew and more mines were purchased, making this asphalt industry one of the most important in the world.

   The mines expanded and grew, assuring bread and work for hundreds of families.  Many sites and tunnels were developed in Torretta, San Giorgio, Pilone, Cusano, La Morgia, Foce , etc.  Inside the tunnels, holes were drilled in the rock and then stuffed with blasting powder and fuse and the resulting blast loosened the rocks.  Some of the mining was done by "open face" mining where  machines -"la rusp"(dialect for bulldozer) - would scrape the dirt off the rocks on the sides of the hill before they were blasted to loosen them .
Bituminous rock still seen today near La Cavate .
Area called "Le Cavate"  near San Giorgio and just below Costa Dell Colle.  Probably one of the pits dug in order to extract the rocks.

La Parodi Delfino  was a roman  corporation which owned some of the mines  in the area of San Giorgio. It was nicknamed-"Parote".  During the Depression in the 1930's, people worked only 2-3 days a week so that everyone would have a job .
   All  the mines were connected by means of railroad tracks and cars.  A French engineer, P. Decauville, had invented a railway system specifically for mining.  It consisted of a movable track that could be taken apart and moved easily, and hand-pulled carts or even small locomotives could be used.  The track  was about 7 km long and, in spite of the hilly terrain, bridges with metal trellis spanned the area .
     Another way of transporting the raw materials was a system called the "Teleferica" or cable-car system . Big steel cables attached to towers carried small wagons full of rocks down to Pianapuccia and on to Scafa and the empty wagons came back on the revolving system . Material was also transported across from La Morgia at Santo Spirito down to Scafa also.
The concrete base of a tower near Cese (Lu Lette) which bears the name of the Neuchatel Asphalt Company; one of the various companies involved in the mining industry in the area .
Towers which carried the cars on cables can still be seen in the area today between LaRocca and Lu Lette .
  The Valley of the Lavino was an intense industrial operation with 3 hydro-electric centrals, 3 "teleferica" lines , a small railroad line and scores of mines from which tons of raw materials were extracted . Before World War ll there were over 500 people working at LuPulone and about 300 people working at San Giorgio.  There were many companies owning several different mining areas.

    One sad result of all this activity were landslides. One area in particular - La Torretta , near San Giorgio - had severe slides in 1900,  resulting in about 100 people abandoning their homes. The Neuchatel  Company who owned that area was forced to buy them out and move them elsewhere.
Vagonetto Decauville - used to transport the material to Scafa.
Le Pilone  (Lu Pulone - dialect)
The entrance to Lu Pulone
Some of the walls in Lu Pulone now hold beautifully mottled stalagmites. They are formed by ground water seeping into the caverns. The water picks up calcium carbonate as it seeps through and deposits it on the walls where it continues to build up slowly over the years.
Inside Lu Pulone and looking back towards the entrance you can see the railroad tracks that carried the "Vagonetto Decauville" full of raw materials.
Inside the mine looking out through another entrance. The entrances were bricked over to make a nice appearance for offices, lunch rooms, maintenance shops, etc.
Tar which has been soft enough to drip though the cracks in the mine wall and then harden.
Lu Lette | La Rocca | The Area | Other Towns | "Stories"
Lu Lette Surnames
| La Rocca Surnames | Maps | Family Nicknames
Organizations & Events
| Scrapbook | Genealogy Help | Links
Sign Our Guestbook
| Home | View Our Guestbook


La Rocca Pg. 17 La Rocca Pg. 19