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1 June 2011

Tuesday 31st May 2011; Carrara

Week 8 of 12 
Module 5: Conservation Interventions and Treatments; Criteria for Selection and Implementation 
The Study Tour: Carrara

We moved on from Pisa to Carrara today going via a famous masonry tool shop Milani Utensili to pick up a few souvenirs. In Carrara we drove up the mountain to one of the large areas of quarrying and were taken up to one of the active quarries where we could observe the stone being extracted from the mountain in much the same way as used in the Travertine Quarry we visited near Tivoli (see Friday 29th April 2011; Tivoli and De Tomassi Workshop Visits). 

The open cast white marble quarry at Carrara that we visited.

We were then taken to a quarry within the mountain which is being worked at a relatively slow rate and is producing the high quality white marble commonly used for sculpture. The photograph below shows one of the chambers from which the stone has been extracted with marble ceilings 15m high and vast pillars no more than 30m apart. It is a relatively slow working quarry with c.40,000 tonnes of marble extracted in the last 15 years from the chamber in the image below (1 cubic metre of marble weighs approximately 3 tonnes). Following this we had a brief visit to a private museum which has been set up beside the quarrying site created by one of the old quarrymen showing some of the historic quarrying techniques including techniques for splitting, cutting and moving the stone.

Inside one of the chambers of the white marble quarry deep within the mountain.

An ancient technique for splitting stone- wooden wedges were inserted into a crack and then wetted to cause expansion of the wood.

This afternoon we visited the workshop of Bruno Luccetti connected to the external quarry where we saw the stone being extracted this morning. We observed the various cutting and polishing techniques used for preparing the marble for use as internal slabs. As well as the local Carrara white marble, stone is imported from all over the world to be processed here. In contrast the travertine from Tivoli is too expensive for them to buy in; they source the travertine that they process and sell from Iran. Little stone is imported from countries where the low cost of the labour force makes the cost of cutting stone in Italy uncompetitive (e.g. India).

Some of the varieties of stone available in the Bruno Luccetti workshop.

This evening we arrived in Parma where we will be spending the next few days of the tour.

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