Carrara is an accidental location since I never planned to go there; it just happened. And I was delighted. From the port of Marina de Carrara the mountains where the marble quarries look as they are covered with snow. The famous quarries has been mined for more than 2,000 years and some of the most famous marble sculptures, such as the statue of David were made from Carrara marble . It took Michelangelo two years to liberate David from its marble grave. Now a day it probably will take hours using a computer guided carvers to create a David with more exacting tolerances. But will it still be called art?
Going from the coast up to the mountain thru a narrow winding road with sharp curves is thrilling. Particular when one encounters a huge trailer truck with large blocks of marble going to the port. These truck drivers are very experienced and watching them handling the steep hills and curves is impressive; of course since they have the biggest vehicle one has to yield or rather…intimidated? In the late 1800’s the “Marble Rail” was built do transport the blocks to the coast, it was about 10 miles long but it was replaced by trucks. One of the highlights of the trip is the Marble Railway Bridge that is now abandoned. It very picturesque structure crossing a ravine that will give and idea of the rough terrain that has to be traversed to reach the mines. There are also numerous facilities along the road where the marble is cut to order to be shipped all over the world.
The marble is quarried both in the surface and underground. There are concerns within the European Union regarding the surface mining defacing the environment and as to what amount of marble is left. I guess based in the vastness of these mountains, there are another 2,000 years of marble left to quarried, that is if the miners last that long.
I took a tour of the underground mine and I was amazed as to the huge excavations. It was cold and wet since water percolates from the surface; marble is porous and water can move thru it. About these images, these were taken between 16, 000 and 25,000 ISO so that is the reason for the not so perfect quality. But I could have not taken these photos with film or for that matter, with a digital camera 3-5 years old…the advances of technology.
The miners probably have lots of idle time while the marble blocks are cut and use the spare time to carve graffiti in the walls as well as attempting to create works of arts. There also memorials to those who made the quarrying of the marbles possible as well as those who lost their lives in the dangerous mining industry. In the marble below, the images of horses was created by a modern Leonard di Vinci, notice the two holes at the center left; these are drilled and thru them the cutting wire is passed. The groove at the right is the track left by a cutting wire.
The blocks quarried are exported to the world for the creation of sculptures as well as architectural wonders. I am sure that if you look around where you live that the odds are that you will find a piece of Carrara marble. Who knows what I accidentally will run into next.