400 AD

APUAN-VERSILIA MARBLE

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“With the exception of ancient Greek marble, which stands on a par but does not surpass it, unlike other marbles you can observe its remarkable whiteness and complete deference to the use of the chisel...”
 M. Pieri – 1958

History

The Apuan-Versilia territory hosts one of the oldest production activities in Tuscany, that has been conducted uninterruptedly since pre-Roman times to the present day with different intensities and characteristics, but always with a reputation of production and an unquestionable “personality” that represents a historical thread that is constantly traceable over time.

The particular specific qualities of Apuan-Versilia marble have made it a material that is highly valuable and sought after, ever since the Romans would used it for their monuments, statues and functional objects in patrician houses, to the works of Michelangelo and even the present day, where the beautiful statuary, the celebrated White “P” (veinless white marble), is the substance for the sculptures and works of the major artists today.

The workshops, which are open throughout the area, are frequently visited by students and teachers of sculpture alike coming from all over the world, which serves as confirmation of a modern and very vibrant prestige.

At the behest of Pope Leo X, the great renaissance sculptor Michelangelo spent three years in the Apuan Alps, building a road that extended as far as the sea and working to open the quarries of Trambiserra and La Cappella.

The Renaissance was to fulfil the miracle that the Medici Pope had always dreamed of for the Apuan land, with the opening and cultivation of quarries of white marble, veined marble, bardiglio and polychrome breccia rock, and the extension of Michelangelo's road to the heart of the mountain, from which Giambologna extracted the first block of statuary marble.

Foreign businessmen who have dealings here and who attend studies, workshops and businesses dealing in the stone area cannot but marvel at the great and formidable landscape of the quarries, recognising the eminence of a region that is not just the fruit of historical memory.

The Production Phases

The initial stage of the activities is carried out early on and involes extracting local marble with the use of advanced technology. Later on the other production activities take place.

The block is cut in many ways: mainly in slabs or blocks that are then shaped, polished and finished in different shapes and sizes. The recent introduction of new computerised machines have led to new forms and faster production with a much greater degree of accuracy.

The laser cutting waterjet machines allow you obtain precise inlays and complex shapes with relative ease. The same applies for the artificial ageing techniques of the products, that replicate the effects of time and can produce an antique artefact that is highly valued.

The role of automation and electronics has constitued the most profound change in the stone processing cycle, giving machines certain challenging control functions which were once carried out by man, who has in turn been allocated a different role.

Even the professional requirements for performing certain internal cycle tasks has gradually changed, with a need for more specific technical skills in the stone industry.

Alongside the most qualified positions, there are also the more traditional positions which are still important, and also technical, because they teach your to learn about the material and to therefore apply the automated process better.

In addition, there is also an important part in certain manufacturing niches of excellence.

It is these artisan productions that allow the area to retain its market leadership and allow it to anchor the sector to local expertise, which is the key creative and distinctive asset. In artisan and artistic workshops, sculptures, funerary pieces, street furniture, indoor furnishings, beautiful mosaics and other objects take shape.

The Territory

The Apuan Alps are known throughout the world for their famous marble quarries. Here precious white marble is extracted and then skilfully worked before being sent all over the world.

There are so many deposits that produce the blocks of stone in their rich variety of colours and grain: Calacatta, Arabescato, Bardiglio, Cardoso, Brecce and Cippolino have defined the history of large companies and are used for many varied applications.

The area is characterised by various factors of competitiveness, that are distinctive and key elements for its development. The high specialisation that is typical of the workforce enables companies and laboratories to enter the market of high added value products that combine knowledge and century-old expertise in stone work to meet the needs of an increasingly demanding and changing market.

The stone that has been manufactured in the Apuan-Versilia district has has been put to use in some of the most important  buildings and architectural works around the world, which is indiciative of a prestige and tradition that has been established over time.

This value comes from the application of strict quality standards, a widespread use of the most advanced technology and a profound and deep-rooted culture of marble. In the distinctive workshops of Versilia, and particularly in the villages of Pietrasanta, Querceta and Seravezza, works of art are prepred that will go on to embellish government palaces, churches, museums and public parks. In the historic centres of these villages, artisan workshops are a popular destination for visitors from around the world.

The old crafts of stonemasonry, decorator, and rougher are handed down from generation to generation.

Today the district also stands out for the presence of qualified service centres for training and the transfer of innovation, such as the Cosmave consortium for the development of marble activities of Versilia and the IMM (International Marbles and Machines).

Credits: Story

Curatore — Camera di commercio di Lucca

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions (listed below) who have supplied the content.
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