The “environmental disaster” plaguing one of Italy’s most beautiful natural parks is in the news … again. Europe’s most widely-read news magazine, Der Spiegel, just published an interview with local activist Elia Pegollo, of “Salviamo le Apuane” (Let’s save the Apuan Alps) an organization working to stop the devastation of the marble mountains that were once the source for Michelangelo’s marble blocks.
Fiona Ehlers’ article highlights the controversy underway in the mountains above Massa, Carrara … and Pietrasanta. It’s a complex issue that has galvanized people on both sides: on the one hand you have the marble industry, which is undergoing a cataclysmic change – the financial crisis and competition from emerging markets have required the big quarries to re-invent themselves, and stressed the smaller shops beyond the limit. On the other there are naturalists who champion the unique beauty of the mountains, and who are decrying the increased pace with which marble is extracted nowadays. More marble than ever before is being quarried – and, according to recent figures, it’s being extracted in powder-form, and used not for art, but in industrial manufacturing – finishing in household abrasives, soaps, and tubes of toothpaste.
It’s not that there’s an absence of laws to protect the environment and the health and well being of the people of the area – the current laws clearly define the limits of quarrying and production and state that the illegal quarries in the natural park be shut down – they also outline health guidelines designed to protect the local citizens from the pollution and ill-health effects caused by the process of the extraction … it’s just that they are rarely enforced!
What do the activists of “Salviamo le Apuane” want? Pegollo’s group is weary of the influence of the multinational conglomerates, they asks that the production of marble be reduced: “We should get back to producing more blocks and less powder” he offers in the article. They ask that alternative jobs be created and that area’s tourism be developed.
Previously on Art is Life:
We link the Der Spiegel article – in German – here.