Carrara – marble quarries

Blinding Whiteness

Marble quarries at Fantiscritti in Carrara on the Apuan Alps

The Apuan Alps look like glistening snow mountains from a distance, with veins of white paths snaking along the mountainsides surrounding the village of Colonnata, in Tuscany. Yet, the blinding whiteness is not snow, but rather the bare quarried face of the mountains. This is where Carrara marble comes from. Hundreds of quarries have produced the whitest and largest amount of marble in the world since the 2nd century. The yield has come at the cost of a completely modified landscape, endangering the fragile ecosystem of the Apuan Alps. Globalization has accelerated excavation, yet Carrara remains one of the poorest cities in Italy.

A fifth of the irreplaceable Carrara marble is destined for the building industry. The rest is ground into calcium carbonate to make medicines, cosmetics, food, paint, plastic and toothpaste. Only a tiny fraction, one percent, has been used for art production.