The history and the fame of Carrara have always been linked to its precious mineral. In the Roman times the marble excavation was just a rough manufacture made from slaves, who realized capitals, columns and small handmade articles directly in the quarry (some of them are now collected in the Marble Museum).
Over the centuries Carrara became the attraction point for celebrated artists: Giovanni Pisano, the first, Michelangelo, the most famous for his bond to the town, but even the Florentine Bandinelli, the famous Spanish sculptor Ordonez and, a century later, Bernini.
The Academy of Fine Arts, instituted in 1769 by the duchess Maria Teresa Cybo Malaspina, contributed then to train a great number of capable local artists (Tenerani, Triscornia, Bienaimè, just to cite the most famous), initiating the formal transmission of the artistic traditions that already lived in the so many artisan workshops of Carrara.
The strong link to the sculpture is living still today every summer in the shows that animate the streets in the town center: the “XIV Biennale Internazionale di Scultura” , an exhibition of important Italian and foreign artists, and the Sculpture Symposium , an open-air workshop, which allows people to appreciate the ability and the effort of sculptors while they are carving.
Every summer also the ancient “Lizzatura” (sledging) takes place, the spectacular way to transport the marble blocks from the steep mountain to the flat land, used from the Roman times to the half of the XX century. The “lizza” was a big wood sledge, loaded with marble blocks and fastened with ropes and cables. It proceeded along the steep slope, sliding down on some soapy wood pieces (the “parati”). Either the Marble Railway, built at the end of the XIX century, and later the marble transport on trucks reduced the typical “lizzatura” at once only to short pathways and then to its abandon.