Carrara Marble: The Beauty Enchanted in Stone

Posted on
May 21, 2019

The word “marble”derives from Ancient Greek word “mármaron" which translates to “crystalline rock, shining stone”. The marble is one of nature’s wonders; no two pieces are ever alike. Carrara Marble is a rock made from small calcium carbonate crystals. During the Jurassic Period (~190M years ago), the original lime rock formation took on a new crystalline structure due to harsh pressure and variations of temperature (this process is called metamorphosis).

Verona Fiere - house of Marmomac

Carrara Marble originated in the Apuan Alps in Italy. Today it comes from over 300 active quarry sites near the city of Carrara in Tuscany (the name Carrara literally means“stone-quarries”). An additional 350 quarry sites were abandoned or exhausted over the millennia. The Carrara quarries have yielded more marble than any other place on earth.

Stone products are beautiful and intricate - Marmomac, Verona

Harvesting marble is hard and dangerous work. Large blocks of marble are selected and then cut using drills, diamond wire saw machines and, sometimes, explosives. The blocks are sold to individual marble manufacturers, transported on flatbed trucks to the saw-mills and then sliced into thin slabs. One large block of super-rare top-quality product may be worth more than a brand-new luxury car.

One of the travertine (limestone) stone quarries near Verona

The work in the quarry is dangerous and the stonecutters are hard as nails. This is due to their craftsmanship and “hands on” extraction methods, which have changed little over the generations. They are passionate about what they do, and they are experts in their work: just by looking at the previous cut, they can predict the quality of the stone behind it. 

The beauty of the stone is indisputable

The most prestigious marble in the Carrara quarries, which represents only 5% of the stone mined, is classified as Statuario, a pure white marble (colouring in marble depends upon the amount of other minerals present in the original limestone when it metamorphosed into marble). Today, the most “common” types of marble are Bianco Carrara, Bianco Venation and Statuarietto.

I was fortunate enough to visit a few Carrara marble manufacturing facilities near Verona, Italy in 2016. Along with fellow architects from around the world, I was invited by the Italian Trade Commission representatives from Toronto to participate in the 2016 Marmomac show in Verona. Marmomac is the biggest stone, design and technology trade fair in the world. In 2018 there were 1,616exhibitors from 55 countries. Over 4 days, the show drew 68,000 visitors, 60%of them international. This is a must-go show for anybody who deals with natural stone.

Marmomac takes place annually in September at Veronafiere in Verona. The area around Verona, in the region of Veneto, is known for limestone quarries. Some of them have been run by the same family for generations.

In addition to touring the Marmomac show, our tour group was invited to see the cutting operations in both the open-pit and underground quarries, and observe the day-to-day work in the stone manufacturing facilities.


Anish Kapoor concave high-polished sculpture reflects images reversely

The experience was enlightening; we were able to observe the production process from beginning to end; from the first cut of the stone in the mine, to the rough cut in the shop, to the finished product, often beautifully carved and polished. We gained abetter understanding of the importance of the value, craft and vision lying behind this architectural material that we often use, but mostly take for granted. Its journey from the Italian countryside to our stairs, lobbies, kitchens, and bathrooms is long and labour-intensive.

Antolini Luigi & C. S.p.a. is a well-respected firm in the stone industry, with over 50 years of experience. Antolini is known for their quality, contemporary design and eye for new technologies and development in stone processing. 

The marble kitchen top presented in this blog is from a house designed by SZTUK Architecture with interiors designed by our collaborator, MAK Design. The marble was produced by Antolini from Antolini Statuario Polished Marni, a super-rare selection fromCarrara’s famous Michelangelo quarries. Its beauty is as stunning as its quality.

Clean form of the marble kitchen counter

The superior quality stone is beautifully solid and shows well-accentuated, dramatic veins. The organic, natural veining in Carrara marble is unusually pale and fine; it’s one of the reasons Carrara marble is so prized by sculptors. The pictures show that this stone was cut so that the vertical and horizontal surfaces match, highlighting the continuity of the veining. The stone was cut and prepared locally by StoneSelection in Ogden, who supply various stone products, many from Italy.

The veining lines carry on from the vertical to horizontal surface

Italians are known for their love of beauty and their passion for life. This Italian marble kitchen top captures both; a glamorous material with natural warmth. It will give us joy every time we look at it or elegantly display something on it. It could be one of the luxuries in your house design, giving back without hesitation.

If you would like to know more about this stunning material or the design of the kitchen top, please let us know.



Photo credits: Magdalena Kurylowicz, Rafael Neurohr, Tomasz Sztuk

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