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Massa-Carrara

Inf XX 47:
Aronta è quei ch’al ventre gli s’atterga,
che ne’ monti di Luni, dove ronca
lo Carrarese che di sotto alberga,
ebbe tra’ bianchi marmi la spelonca
per sua dimora, onde a guardar le stelle
e ‘l mar non li era la veduta tronca.
(Inf XX 46-51)

Massa Carrara
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The origins of the two Apuan towns are indisputably pre-Roman. They were inhabited by the proud Ligurian Apuans, the people of the Statues menhir (Pontremoli). In the Peutinger Table (Lerici; Val di Vara), this territory contains the toponym Ad taberna Frigida, a possible stopping place along the consular road of the Aemilia Scauri (which led from Pisa to Luni), near the banks of the river Frigido. While the history of Carrara is closely linked to the quarrying and working of marble, the history of Massa boasts  political and aristocratic deeds of high significance. In the Middle Ages, it was property of the Obertenghi family. The Malaspina family had a fortress built in the town that became increasingly powerful over the centuries, so much so that in the 15th century the marquisate became an autonomous state with the annexation of the Principality of Carrara to the Duchy of Massa. The period of greatest development was during the Renaissance, under the regency of the Cybo-Malaspina. During the 18th century, Massa, with all its appurtenances, was incorporated in the Duchy of Modena and Reggio. The construction of the cyclopic Via Vandelli, the great mountain road aimed at connecting the most important centres in Emilia to the sea, dates back to that period. Under Napoleon, the Apuan territory was annexed to the Principality of Lucca, but following the Congress of Vienna everything fell under the dominion of Maria Beatrice d’Este (1750-1829). In 1823, the diocese was founded at the request of Leo XII. In 1829, the town fell under the dominion of the Dukes of Modena of the Austria-d’Este family. In 1859, amidst significant tensions, the Duchy of Massa was merged with the Kingdom of Sardinia, but in this case the process of national unification was very complicated, as a large part of the population joined resistance movements that have even been described as “Apuan Antirisorgimento”.

Later on, the Germans showed to possess a good knowledge of the Italian history when they established the sadly famous Gothic Line on the ancient route of the Byzantine Limes in order to face the advance of the American army from the south. While the command-in-chief on the Tyrrhenian front was established at the Monastery of Corvo (Ameglia), the Germans sappers prepared their front in the great plain of Massa. When the two armies came into contact, all hell broke loose and lasted from September 1944 to April 10th 1945, the day on which the American armoured troops arrived in Massa, which had by now been liberated.

As well as being towns of historical importance, Carrara and Massa have also an artistic and cultural legacy. Everyone knows about Michelangelo and Canova’s visits to Carrara, but a few people know that the great Giovanni Pascoli (1855-1912) taught in Massa from 1884 to 1887. In these three years the poet witnessed a distinguished scholar such as Luigi Staffetti (1869-1929), great commentator of the crucial “Storia della Lunigiana Feudale” (“History of Feudal Lunigiana”) by Eugenio Branchi, reach full maturity.  During this period, he also had the opportunity to be close to one of his greatest friends from university, poet Severino Ferrari (1856-1905), who, at that time, was active in La Spezia. Prior to being assigned a teaching position at “Pellegrino Rossi” High School, Pascoli was living in the distant Matera: his stay in Massa allowed him to reconstruct the famous “nest” with his beloved sisters and it also reinvigorated his poetic flair. Carrara was also the birthplace of scholar Emanuele Repetti (1776- 1852), author of the monumental Dizionario Geografico Fisico Storico Della Toscana (Geographical, Physical and Historical Dictionary of Tuscany) and of the exponents of the Fabbricotti family (Sarzana), great marble industrialists who lived in the aforementioned Monastery of Corvo.

The origins of the two Apuan towns are indisputably pre-Roman. They were inhabited by the proud Ligurian Apuans, the people of the Statues menhir (Pontremoli). In the Peutinger Table (Lerici; Val di Vara), this territory contains the toponym Ad taberna Frigida, a possible stopping place along the consular road of the Aemilia Scauri (which led from Pisa to Luni), near the banks of the river Frigido. While the history of Carrara is closely linked to the quarrying and working of marble, the history of Massa boasts  political and aristocratic deeds of high significance. In the Middle Ages, it was property of the Obertenghi family. The Malaspina family had a fortress built in the town that became increasingly powerful over the centuries, so much so that in the 15th century the marquisate became an autonomous state with the annexation of the Principality of Carrara to the Duchy of Massa. The period of greatest development was during the Renaissance, under the regency of the Cybo-Malaspina. During the 18th century, Massa, with all its appurtenances, was incorporated in the Duchy of Modena and Reggio. The construction of the cyclopic Via Vandelli, the great mountain road aimed at connecting the most important centres in Emilia to the sea, dates back to that period. Under Napoleon, the Apuan territory was annexed to the Principality of Lucca, but following the Congress of Vienna everything fell under the dominion of Maria Beatrice d’Este (1750-1829). In 1823, the diocese was founded at the request of Leo XII. In 1829, the town fell under the dominion of the Dukes of Modena of the Austria-d’Este family. In 1859, amidst significant tensions, the Duchy of Massa was merged with the Kingdom of Sardinia, but in this case the process of national unification was very complicated, as a large part of the population joined resistance movements that have even been described as “Apuan Antirisorgimento”.

Massa-Carrara

Later on, the Germans showed to possess a good knowledge of the Italian history when they established the sadly famous Gothic Line on the ancient route of the Byzantine Limes in order to face the advance of the American army from the south. While the command-in-chief on the Tyrrhenian front was established at the Monastery of Corvo (Ameglia), the Germans sappers prepared their front in the great plain of Massa. When the two armies came into contact, all hell broke loose and lasted from September 1944 to April 10th 1945, the day on which the American armoured troops arrived in Massa, which had by now been liberated.

As well as being towns of historical importance, Carrara and Massa have also an artistic and cultural legacy. Everyone knows about Michelangelo and Canova’s visits to Carrara, but a few people know that the great Giovanni Pascoli (1855-1912) taught in Massa from 1884 to 1887. In these three years the poet witnessed a distinguished scholar such as Luigi Staffetti (1869-1929), great commentator of the crucial “Storia della Lunigiana Feudale” (“History of Feudal Lunigiana”) by Eugenio Branchi, reach full maturity.  During this period, he also had the opportunity to be close to one of his greatest friends from university, poet Severino Ferrari (1856-1905), who, at that time, was active in La Spezia. Prior to being assigned a teaching position at “Pellegrino Rossi” High School, Pascoli was living in the distant Matera: his stay in Massa allowed him to reconstruct the famous “nest” with his beloved sisters and it also reinvigorated his poetic flair. Carrara was also the birthplace of scholar Emanuele Repetti (1776- 1852), author of the monumental Dizionario Geografico Fisico Storico Della Toscana (Geographical, Physical and Historical Dictionary of Tuscany) and of the exponents of the Fabbricotti family (Sarzana), great marble industrialists who lived in the aforementioned Monastery of Corvo.

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