The start of the Italian marble industry can be traced back to the early renaissance period but became prolific during the Roman Empire. Most of the industry can be found in what is called the Carrara Valley, also called Province of Massa-Carrara, which is situated on the border of Liguria and Emilian Romagna. 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 Austria, and management of the mines rested with them.
Although it is situated between the Alps and the sea, these towns were almost always the first to be conquered during times of war. Due to this factor, the Carrara Valley is known secondly for anarchy. By the end of the 19th century, Carrara had become a cradle of anarchism in Italy, in particular among the quarry workers. According to a New York Times article of 1894, workers in the marble quarries were among the most neglected laborers in Italy. Many of them were ex-convicts or fugitives from justice. The work at the quarries was so tough and arduous that almost any aspirant worker with sufficient muscle and endurance was employed, regardless of their background. In Carrara, the anarchist Galileo Palla remarked, “even the stones are anarchists.”
Today when visiting you can still see the beauty in the draw of the city. If you are lucky enough to visit, there are a few marble attractions to visit. The spectacular white marble caves in the heart of these mountains are unique in the world and reveal themselves as a gleaming vision before the visitor’s eyes. Entering the mountain’s heart, one can touch the same precious stony elements preferred by artists like Michelangelo and Canova. The Basilica of Massa is built entirely of Carrara marble, and the old Ducal Palace of Massa was used to showcase the precious stone.