When driving along the Ligurian coast on the E80 from Genoa to Pisa, one could be mistaken in thinking that the peaks towering out from the sea, are covered with eternal snow. The brightest of whites, reflecting in the summer sun makes one squint. Through the eyelids meandering parallel lines become visible along the mountain ridges. Valley after valley the mountains have been cut, revealing the inside of the mountain. The inside of the mountain is white.
People have been cutting, slicing and mining in the ridges of the Apuan Alps around Carrara, already since Roman times, making it one of the oldest still operational industrial areas to date. The pure white marble, the statuario, that comes from these quarries, has the perfect blend of hard and softness, without veins and discolorations, making it ideal for sculpting. Michelangelo and Bernini visited the quarries in search of the prefect blocks of marble, for their David statues. Slabs of Carrara marble have been making their way across the globe being used in cathedrals duomos and monuments.
Carrara marble has always been a luxury commodity but the last few decades the demand for Carrara countertops and floors have dramatically increased, turning the surrounding coastal area of Massa-Carrara in a landscape of stone cutting factories and harbours, exporting for 1 billion euro’s annually to the voracious nouveau riche in the East.
Trucks filled with marble are thundering down the narrow mountain roads to the sea. The sound of diamond drills, the smell of its cooling water mixed with chalk. The occasional loud thumb when a slab the size of a small house is dislodged from the mountain. In the search for the statuario, caves in the mountain have been excavated, forming giant marble cathedrals in the inside of the mountains.
These mountains are slowly but steadily eaten from the out and the inside by the, white dusted quarry workers. The insatiable lust for Carrara marble has, through the centuries, transformed the rugged mountain landscape into a wounded landscape, its white flesh lies bare in the Mediterranean sun.