Stone Discoveries: Calacatta Caldia

As our jeep made its way further and further up the mountain, I watched the red clay commune of Carrara, Massa disappear below me. For all the majesty of Tuscany’s Medici villas, the Renaissance art and architecture of neighboring Florence, I knew that what lay at the end of my journey, that magical place secreted away among the misty Apuan Alps, was a place of beauty, in a class of its own: the Caldia quarry (also known as the Rocchetta quarry); neighbor to the Carrara quarries. Seen from a great distance, they appear to be mere white specs on the mountains, but, in truth, they are the wellspring of luxurious raw materials destined to become masterpieces of art and architecture.

When my Carraresi guide, Ettore, halted the vehicle, the air was different, lighter. I realized then how far we had come. He pointed them out: the quarrymen in the rocky vale below working, like ants, carrying loads hundreds of times their own weight; and what they carried: something vital, maybe even sacred, practiced since the Romans first opened the mountains to extract the wonders within two thousand years ago. I observe them pulling this material from the earth and beginning the process…

Though the mountain formation that lies in Carrara consists almost entirely of marble, it can be very difficult to get at, owing to the accumulation of debris from quarriers of the past, who cut where it was most convenient and threw caution to the wind, employing none of the modern and more green quarrying techniques of the twenty-first century, pulling the blocks of stone, labeling them for civic use to avoid excises. These coagulations of rock can be hundreds of feet in depth. The growing cost of the marble culled from the Massa region has less to do with a lack of supply—the amount of marble secreted in the mountains of Massa is incalculable—than the struggle to unearth it. But I know I have come to this place, where occurred the germination of the architectural splendor of the Roman Empire, because the stone is worth that struggle.

In blocks, unpolished and uncut, Calacatta Caldia has a striking effect upon the senses, just as it does when confronted in art and architecture: one of bearing witness to something austere but also elegant in its simplicity. While the materials produced by the Carrara quarry have been a staple of art and architecture for thousands of years, owing to their stark ostentation, Caldia is now a staple of interior design because, in comparison to the other Calacatta marbles, it is much softer and more delicate; characterized by subtle, pale grey-green veining. It is this inconspicuousness of the material that allows it to, in its many and varied interior applications, toe the thin line which separates gaudiness and garishness, from the splendor of organic interiors which are uniform without being ordinary.

The natural stone currently on view at ABC represents only the finest rocks on Earth. Procured from 6 continents, ABC has truly moved mountains across oceans to bring the finest stone on Earth to the A&D community. Calacatta Caldia is one of the most perfect building materials in the world, and we are honored to bring it to you.

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