Monday, 6 October 2014

Marvelling at marble

Yesterday I went on a guided tour of the marble quarries of Carrara. For years I have wanted to go there, having had a great interest in stones, since my childhood. I used to pick up diiferent chips of rocks at the local monumental mason, and frequently walked through the cemetery, on my way to the creek. For years I kept samples of granite and marble, and wanted to be an archaeologist. This ambition was thwarted by my lack of scientific ability snd knowledge, but the interest in stones and rocks remains.

Carrara is a bit off my usual beaten track, and somewhat complicated to get there. But hotels have lots of leaflets advertising tourist opportunities, and one kf them had a tour of the quarries of Carrara. So I have been and gone. It was a long day, but satisfying and fascinating.

The tour people picked me up from the hotel, and a busload of people gathered outside Santa Maria Novella station. Only six of us were going to Carrara, the rest were going elswhere.

When we arrived at the meeting point at Carrara, we tranferred to a jeep, rather uncomfortable, and with no seat belts for the four of us in the back. We sat facing each other, clutching whatever we  could, and it was not easy to see much of the landscape. The other three people in the back with me were an Australian family from Perth.

The road by no means resembled the splendid road system of Italy, and is mostly used by trucks and workers in the industry. Our guide, a German who married an Italian, drove the jeep with panache, and spoke in detail about the history of the marble mountains, the Apuan, and the quarrying industry. Apparently, due to privileges granted some centuries ago, the quarries are privately owned.
Eventually we reached a working quarry. As it was Sunday, there was no work going on, and we had a splendid view of the mountain, the quarry, the view to the sea, and all the working equipment. Naturally we all took many photographs, and the sun was so bright that it was impossible to see what we were photographing. Whoever got rid of viewfinders in cameras?

I am so glad I went, but wish we could have seen something of the city itself. Instead we drove back to meet the bus and then visited both Pisa and Lucca. Both very interested, with hordes of tourists, and eventually we arrived back at the station and I walked back to the hotel.

Now I am about to pay my bill, and go to the station again, to travel by train to Pistoia.

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