Tuscany, land of quarries
by Anna Maria Fiorentino
The "noble" aspect of the extracting and working of stone products resides without question in the zone of Carrara, that dissolves into our region in a mixture of accents that neither belong to Tuscany or Liguria and it's curious how two bordering regions boast opposite attributes, both regarding physical, chromatic and usage characteristics from the mining activities in Tuscany: if marble speaks ToscoLigure, the stone of Firenzuola almost speaks Emilian.
The extraction of this material has a long history and is well consolidated in the territory. They presently extract 50,000 cubic metres compared to 5,000 thirty years ago. between workshops and cooperations the stone provides about 500 people with work including the uneducated.
At the "Festa d'Autunno" run by the municipality, by Pro-Loco and the community of Montana of Mugello and presently in its second year, the idea of creating a museum of stone has been discussed to collect and document this important artisan activity. It's no accident that the economy of this zone is determined by two elements which at first sight appear dissimilar - chestnuts and stone; both possess an apparent hardness that conceals, from the less attentive, a central nucleus from whose processing two excellent results are achieved: that of giving a treat to our much maligned five senses: from the stone, our sight and sense of touch benefit; from the chestnut, our sense of taste and hearing are rewarded, at least for those of us still able to appreciate the silence of the magnificent woods of the area.
Nowadays the stone is used for restoration, adorning, floors and interior and exterior decorative work but the use of stone as a means of emphasising volume and space was already well known in the fifteenth century and in Brunelleschi found one of its finest executors. However we shouldn't forget that in the Renaissance workshops and yards the fame of the master architects was maintained at a high level by the solid infrastructure of gifted artisans and it's pleasing to think that this manual tradition has survived in tact five centuries of history.