The Carrara quarry
Marble has always been the base for all great architectural achievements and sculptures, from the Palaeolithic period, scraping stone on stone and cave paintings, to Michelangelo’s various masterpieces. Carrara is located on the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea and it is known for being home to the most precious kind of marble in the world. Ancient Romans first started quarrying it, which Caesar then transported in large blocks via Carrara’s port, Luni. The block were used to build one of the most important monuments in Rome and others all over the world.
Michelangelo in Carrara
The first time that Michelangelo came to Carrara was in the 15th century, when he needed marble for the Pieta, commissioned by a French cardinal. This piece of art is now located in the Basilica di San Pietro in the Vatican. Rumour has it that one night Michelangelo sneaked into the basilica to carve his signature onto the sculpture. He was just 22 years old at the time, and few people knew of his work. Some believe that the Pieta was in fact sculpted by Cristofero Solari and that this was the main reason why the young artist carved the words Angelus Bonarotus Florentinus Faciebat. His greatest challenge was the statue of David. Nobody had previously managed to find an appropriate piece of marble for this specific type of deed. The biggest obstacle was to build a statue three times taller than the average height of a man out of a single piece of stone. Michelangelo succeeded in doing so when he made his trip to Carrara, where he was compelled to climb down the huge block of marble on his own and to carry it (with the help of a contraption he had made himself) from the coastline all the way to Rome. One of these attempts almost cost him his life. It was not rare for people to compare him to Leonardo da Vinci because all of Michelangelo’s inventions directly contributed to the making of his artwork. It is this approach and humantistic thinking that reflects the idea of the Reneissance artist – he who becomes his own entrepreneur.
The statue of David is a symbol of the essence of Humanism, a cultural movement that stands for self-awareness and individualism and man’s rebirth which was a result of studying ancient ideals and beliefs, contrary to the beliefs of the Middle Ages. Reneissance artists had to be educated and skilled enough to deal with both practice and theory in order to produce a diverse array of work. Marcus Vitruvius first discussed this 1,400 years before advent of Humanism, which later heavily influenced Leon Battista Alberti’s work.
Lorenzo De Medici, Florentine de facto ruler from 1449 – 1492, was a patron for many artists at the time including Leonardo da Vinci. He provided Michelangelo’s education alongside members of the ruling family, for which he worked for the rest of his life. One of Medici’s buildings is located in Seravezza, 20 km away from Carrara. As of 1992 this monument belongs to the artistic studio ARTCO that houses exhibition spaces, offices, studios and the homes of great artists such as Nicolas Bertoux and Cinthia Sah, owners of this studio, and in this way it operate as a living organism.
Pietrasanta is the most beautiful place in the region where its beautiful history, art, quarry, seashore, Apennine mountains and Tuscan landscape make one exquisite destination for those looking to explore and taste Italy. This place is home or the main base of some of the greatest sculptors in the world such as Fernando Botero, Igor Mitoraj, Goran Čpajak, Pietro Kazela and many others.
I discovered something gentile, bright and unusual in the people living in this area. The dedication, peace and stories I saw on their faces are different to those of artists that are packaged by society, those who satisfy their needs and battle only in the external world. They are governed by a micro world.
Even though I believe that kind of life has its distractions and submissiveness, its authenticity was the reflection of many of my own ideals. It would be banal to contribute this to their small surroundings and beautiful scenery, even though I do think it’s what nourishes and helps them focus in their pursuit of new ideas and inspirations. I envied them for this. I envied them for their modesty and quietude, in a society that has loudly begun to brand this as a weakness.