(Above: This 16th century statue of Neptune was made out of Carrara marble harvested from the mountains in the background. From below, the marble looks like snow. ) (Photo by Mark Micheli.)
(This story was published in the travel section of the Boston Globe on Nov. 11, 2018.)
By Mark Micheli
Make sure you come prepared.
You need sunglasses or the bright sun reflecting off the towering raw white marble walls that surround you in the mountains overlooking Carrara, Italy will blind you. You also need sturdy shoes for support as you walk over a landscape of crushed marble. And you need faith in your fellow man, or at least the young woman driving the 4x4 Land Rover off-road through steep, narrow paths that cling to the high mountainside, mostly without guardrails.
This is the Cave di Marmo Tours, one of several companies that bring tourists up into the famed marble quarries above the city of Carrara, where Michelangelo selected his marble to sculpt his masterpieces, including the David and the Pieta.
The meeting point is easy to miss as it’s a small trailer on the side of the road. A better landmark is the bar and souvenir shop next door and that’s where we waited for Gabriele who soon showed up with two 4x4 vehicles and another driver, a young woman who appeared to be in her 20s. Both of them chain-smoked, probably to calm their nerves from all the driving they do in the rough terrain.
Carrara has a history of anarchy, as a political philosophy that grew out of labor battles between stonecutters and quarry owners in the late 1800s. An international anarchist conference in 1968 in Carrara led to the formation of the International of Anarchist Federations. And even though Italian anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti were each born hundreds of miles from here, the city has a piazza dedicated in their name.
Created with images by Jack78 - "italy rome st peter's basilica" • little_arrows - "david michelangelo florence sculpture italy marble body"