Marble and Mills

Not only were we swimming in marble pools, but it was (virtually) the Carrera stone that all those legendary artists used in sculptures such as Michelangelo’s David.

It was a Sylvan spot in the little river above the north Tuscan town of Camaiore shaded by Spanish chestnuts. The water comes off the parched Alpi Appuane mountains and was full of tiny frogs.

It looks entirely natural. Even those gorgeously curved cavities. But in fact all along the river are ruined mills fed by carefully -constructed canals. Until quite recently they powered mill-stones and machines that crushed everything from the chesnuts (for flour) and saltpetre (for gunpowder).

So what looks like a rural idyll was once an industrial power-house for this little corner of Italy tucked between the mountains and the sea.

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