Febbraio 2006 - Pietrasanta, Carrara

Buon Giorno Amici e Famiglia,

This month I take you north of Pisa to the towns of Pietrasanta and Carrara. Both are well known throughout italy and the rest of the world for their relationship to the world of sculpting. Pietrasanta hosts many bronze and marble workshops and foundries. Carrara has ancient quarries where Michelangelo selected marble for his sculptures.

One of the main squares in Pietrasanta. This was during a late Saturday afternoon, so most of the shops are closed. This small town is snuggled between the hills and the sea. An interesting looking fort was mounted on the hillside and there were many old looking buildings everywhere.

My group walks into the Barsanti foundry and workshop.

A pile of marble ... fodder for the sculptor's hammer and chisel.

Romanian sculptor Benone Olaru tells us about some of his experiences as a sculptor.

After looking through several foundries and workshops in the artistically industrious town of Pietrasanta, we hop on the train and head north. Our next stop is Carrara. After taking a bus from the train station to the main part of town, we begin walking up sloping streets, towards the hills.
There was a fair amount of activity in the streets and tiny red banners were strung across the streets that evoked a festive mood. As we made our way up the street we got glimpses of the jagged mountains in the background, which beckoned us to them.

Soon, we were walking through the Eastern edge of town and the bigger buildings and shops dissipated into houses and smaller buildings. We crossed a small bridge that passed over a stream. We couldn't help but notice the unusually blueish color of the water in the stream.

We rounded a corner and caught a glimpse of a mountain that had been heavily mined for it's marble. This was really an exciting view and you can imagine how Michelangelo felt as he came upon these mountains for his marble selections.

These mountains are part of the Appenines, which run North to South all the way through Italy. This part of the mountain chain passes extremely close to the Ligurian Sea. The close proximity of the marble quarries to the sea (just a few kilometers), make it convenient to extract the marble and transport it throughout Italy and other parts of the world.
Note the clothes flapping in the wind in the upper left hand corner of the picture (how very Italian).

Before we reached our final destination, we stopped into a small marble carving workshop where a lone man worked diligently on his creations. The place was dark, with shafts of light peeking in through the windows and the faint sound of the stream we passed earlier was on the other side of the wall. Everything was covered in marble dust.

In the back of the workshop, Olivia Kim (graduate from the Florence Academy of Art sculpture program) describes to us various aspects of marble sculpting.

Our last destination for the day is a small marble workshop at the foot of the mountains. Here, we got to see some amazing work that is done all by hand, with handmade tools. The object being carved will be a man bending over.

If you look closely, you will see a small wax sculpture placed ontop of the marble. The sculptors use this, and their drawings to aid them in creating the sculpture. I will try and follow up on this project in a couple of months and show you a picture of the completed sculpture, if possible.

Lance Dooley is studying sculpture in Firenze, Italia.
Contact lance at: lance@lancedooley.com

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