The History of Carrara Marble

Carrara marble (is a type of white or blue-grey marble of high quality, popular for use in sculpture and building decor. It is  quarried in the city of Carrara located in the province of Massa and Carrara in the Lunigiana, the northernmost tip of modern-day Tuscany,Italy.

The Carrara Marble, as other types of marble,  is a metamorphic rock made from microscopically small calcium carbonate crystals. This rock was formed by metamorphosis, that means that the former rock has got a complete new crystalline structure due to high pressure and/or variations in temperature, so, ultimately, the rock has been fundamentally changed. In the particular case of Carrara Marble you can say that the original rock was similar to the present lime soil of the big coral reefs in the tropical oceans. The transformation took place during the Early Jurassic (190 million years ago), when big parts of today’s North Tuscany were flooded; lime sediment deposited on the sea bottom and then formed a carboniferous platform. 

After the movement of the earth’s crust, when the Apennines had been formed, the carboniferous platform surfaced from the ocean and formed mountains, which maintained their original characteristics; but it was not the same for the Apuan Alps, where high pressure has fundamentally changed the crystalline structure of the rock.  The lime turned therefore into marble. From the  carboniferous platform, which had been folded several times as ‚plastic‘ by very high pressure, arose the complex  geological structure of the today’s Apuan Alps.

Carrara marble has been used since the time of Ancient Rome In the 17th and 18th centuries, the marble quarries were monitored by the Cybo and Malaspina families who ruled over Massa and Carrara. The family created the "Office of Marble" in 1564 to regulate the marble mining industry.The city of Massa, in particular, saw much of its plan redesigned (new roads, plazas, intersections, pavings) in order to make it worthy of an Italian country's capital. Following the extinction of the Cybo-Malaspina family, the state was ruled by the House of Austriaand management of the mines rested with them. The Basilica of Massa is built entirely of Carrara marble and the old Ducal Palace of Massa was used to showcase the precious stone.

Bianco Carrara classified in C and CD variations as well as well as Bianco Venatino and Stauarietto are by far the most common types with more expensive exotic variations such as Calacatta Gold, Calacatta Borghini, Arabescato Cervaiole and Arabescato Vagli quarried throughout the Carrara area.

One of the most iconic pieces of Carrara Marble has to be the Statue Of David by Michelangelo but did you know the block of marble that became one of history’s most famous masterpieces proves the old cliché about one man’s trash being another’s treasure. Michelangelo created David from a piece of marble that had been twice been discarded by other sculptors. Agostino di Duccio gave up on a project using the block, after which it sat untouched for 10 years. At that point, Antonio Rossellino took a crack at the block but decided it was too much of a pain to work with. When Michelangelo finally got his hands on it, the marble had been waiting for 40 years for someone who was up to its challenge.