Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Trains, Marble, and Cemeteries...

Today, I went to Carrara, Italy with my marble class.  It was interesting.  It was also the first time I used the train.  I have to say, I'm glad my first time was with the class, b/c I'm pretty sure it would be overwhelming by myself.  But it was ok.  You have to pay attention b/c they don't always announce which stop is next.  And sometimes it smells, which is to be expected when people are coming and going all the time.  But it wasn't bad, its presence was just known.  It was also kinda rainy on and off.  But it was ok, I was prepared with rainboots and an umbrella.  We had to switch trains at Pisa, then to Carrara, where we met up with our professor, Jena (b/c she doesn't live in Florence).  Carrara is a very different city than Florence.  A lot quieter and more of a working city with real people opposed to the Florentines who are used to dealing with tourists.  Sometimes I don't feel like I'm in Italy when I'm here in Florence, b/c it even seems very touristy to me.  Anyways, back to Carrara.  We started our day with going to The Marble Museum.  It was a neat place.  A little boring though.  They had all the different kinds of marble and granites out on show.  And it also told the story of the people who used to work in the quarries in Carrara.  One section was videotaped interviews of the people and what they seen, did, and how it affected them.  Death was a very common thing in the quarries.  When someone was injured they would rush down to the city and be doctored up. Many times losing a foot, or other body part.  However, when someone died they would blow the horn 3 times and everyone would know that someone passed away.  Its sad to think that the many amazing works of art like the David and Duomo most likely cost someone their life up in those quarries.  Back, way back in the day, they used oxen to pull the marble down from the mtn to the city.  To make the ox pull harder or faster they used to beat them with a piece of wood with a nail sticking out of it.  Talk about animal rights.  And thank goodness for the intention of automobiles and such.  Its amazing to think of all the work they did to get that marble out.  Carrara alone has over 30 different types of marble in there mountains.  Some very beautiful.  My favorite was a black marble with yellow veins running through it.  It was neat to see and I learned a lot (can't you tell?).  Next we had lunch.  By far the most disappointing lunch I've had.  Blah.  The first not-good meal I've had so far.  Oh well, Carrara made it up to me with a wonderful apple pastry from pastry shop down around the corner from the crappy sandwich place.  :) It was dee-lish and only a euro.  :)  Cheap and wonderful.  Can't go wrong.  Next we were off to the first of two laboratories aka studios.  Huge studio.  It began in 1864 and hasn't changed at all since then, with the current owners being the 7th generation to work there.  Pretty amazing.  Amazing work.  I took some pictures which I will try to post if the internet is my friend tonight.  What was very surprising to me was that I seen a Louise Bourgeouis piece there.  She designed these two benches "Eye Benches" and they made them.  I know that she doesn't make her own pieces but its disappointing b/c they made it for her.  And her name gets the credit.  I think they should be credited too.  But oh well.  The art world is a complicated place sometimes.  Regardless, they were nice pieces.  Just hanging out.  Both the molds and the finished pieces.  Next, we were off to the Academy of Fine Arts.  What an awesome place to go to school at.  Or how annoying to have tourists walking through your school.  Whichever way  you want to look at it.  Beautiful place though.  Then we walked by Michealangelo's home while he was there in Carrara.  Then onto another studio space.  And finally a cemetery.  To see the marble there.  A little strange but makes sense.  Only in Carrara do the Italians have headstones that represent your career or hobbies.  For example, if you were a miner, you had an image of a man mining on your headstone.  Or if you liked to boat, you got a boat on your headstone.  Which is different.  I'm not sure I would want to be remembered by my career.  But then again just burn me and let my ashes go.  lol.  The cemetery was HUGE.  I felt weird taking pictures there.  Don't get me wrong I love cemeteries.  I like to just hang out and have a picnic there (I'm strange no need to tell me this).  But the Italians take death sooo seriously.  Your life seems to take on more importance after your dead.  Which is different than the way the US sees death.  It felt a little disrespectful taking pictures.  So I only took vague ones, not any headstone/grave in particular. Then home after the two hour train ride. And here I am.  :) Blogging about it so I don't forget anything and editing my pics.    
Paris = 2 days away.
Spring Break = Keith = 18 days away.
I have wonderful things to look forward to.


ps I'll put the pics up later.  Internet = not my friend. :(

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