Marble quarries probably already existed in the Bronze Age when primitive inhabitants of the area used them to produce various utensils and decorative or commemorative objects to bury with their dead.
Real extraction work began with the Romans. Starting from Julius Caesar, quarries began to supply large white marble blocks for the main buildings in Rome and several patrician dwellings. Exports went through the Luni port.

From the V century to the year 1000, extraction stopped following barbarian invasions. After that, with the spread of Christianity, large quantities of marble were needed for religious buildings and their inside furnishings. This fervid quarry activity is mainly due to the Comacine Masters, including Giovanni Pisano and Nicola Pisano, who used it for their works in Central Italy. Then it was the marble used by Michelangelo for his sculptures and he came to choose the blocks he wanted for his works personally.
Marble extraction in the Apuan Alps goes back to the remote past (1st century B.C.) and was thoroughly transformed last century. In ancient times, diggers used simple methods and tools and it took a long time and a lot of work for really modest results.

The real extraction technique revolution took place at the end of the 19th century with the invention of  helical thread and the penetrating pulley […] Through these two ingenious tecniques the pulley, running along a specific rack called machine enabling it to be lowered continually and regularly, does two things at the same time: as it penetrates the marble it drags along the helical thread cutting the marble block.

The marble Railway, that glorious « Marmifera »,  transported the marble for almost a century. Built between 1876 and 1890, it linked the main block storage centres of the three Carrara marble basins -Torano, Miseglia and Colonnata- with the sawing mills down on the plain, the port of Marina di Carrara and the national railway network. It was an incredible feat considering the means available at the time: it had to overcome a 450 m drop for a total of 22 km crossing a great number of bridges and railway lines. The “ Marmifera” worked for a long time replacing the road network, but competition from modern means of transport made it uneconomic and after a hard period the railway stopped working in 1964 and its tracks were partly turned into roads.

Taken from

Cooperativa Cavatori di Gioia
via S.Martino, 1 - Ang. via Rosselli
54033 Carrara - Italia
EU VAT N. IT00052460458
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