Interested in Italian masonry? Want to know about the techniques of stone cutting used in Italy? Our guide gives you the facts & information you want to know.
Stone cutting is one of the trades that our earliest ancestors practiced and has a long history dating back to the Neolithic Revolution. Once people learned to use fire to create mortars, plasters and quicklime, they could make shelter for themselves using stone, straw or mud. Masonry and stone cutting can be said to be born during this time.
The Ancient Romans
The Roman Empire was known throughout the civilized world as being the creator of architectural wonders and public works too numerous to list. When the western empire of the Roman’s fell, stone cutting and masonry in Italy experienced a decline, while timber construction saw an increase throughout Western Europe. The trade of masonry and stone cutting once again saw a resurgence in the 9th and 10th century, and it was in the 12th century that a fervor for religion resulted in thousands of intricately crafted cathedrals and churches made of stone all across the land.
Stone Cutting and the Renaissance
Said to be the center stage of the Renaissance, Florence, Italy is where the trade of stone cutting and masonry saw its return to the elegance and distinction it once knew. The quest for philosophical knowledge among the people unleashed the creativity and ambition of some of the greatest stone cutters in Italy.
Florence became renowned for stone works such as the Fountain of Neptune and the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral. One of the greatest stone cutters was Michelangelo Buonarroti, known to most of the world today as simply Michelangelo, who built and planned the Laurentian Library also found in Florence.
Carrara Marble Quarry Italy
The largest quarry of marble in the world is found in Carrara, a town which is in the Apuan Alps. For centuries, people have risked their very lives in order to separate from the mountainside, prized stone for some of the world’s greatest artists to create some of the greatest works of art the world has ever known. Bernini, Donatello, Giotto and of course the great Michelangelo, used the stones from Carrara that became their masterpieces. The mine is still in full operation today, providing the raw materials to inspire a new generation of craftsmen and artists.
When you leave Florence and travel the winding roads up to the mountains, you can visit what are considered the three most important valleys of marble, Vavaccione, Fantiscritti and Colonnato. When you reach Michelangelo’s quarry you can see both ancient and modern stone cutting techniques and take in the awe inspiring sight of the sheer, pure white cliffs.