Apricena, the City where Marble becomes Art, with Girolamo Lombardi
We had a chance to meet Girolamo Lombardi to discover interesting details about Apricena, the city of marble and stone, and go on a tour around the many quarries the city is surrounded by.
Apricena and the Marble
Apricena is located in the north of Apulia (Puglia), a region of southern Italy. Although it is not a big city, Apricena is famous for its fine marble used all over Italy and exported to several other countries. Apricena is the largest marble basin in Apulia and the second largest in Italy. Historical information related to the “Stone of Apricena” and its applications consists of a series of fragmentary information signs, largely because, in the past, local stone was often marketed or put into use under other names.
Practical applications of the compact limestone of Apricena differ and can be seen in many well-known cities, buildings, institutions, and works of art, both in Italy and the rest of the world.
Meet Civil Surveyor, National and International Marble Trader, Girolamo Lombardi
Girolamo is a civil surveyor, who was born and raised in Apricena. He has been working in the marble industry for about 30 years – an industry he was always fascinated by and considered not just a workplace but his true passion. Girolamo has a deep knowledge of the entire process of stone extraction and processing techniques. His job consists of testing the stone blocks and sending them to the sawmill for processing and cutting. He drives excavators and bulldozers. Girolamo is also a national and international marble trade expert who supervises and supports the workers. He knows the territory like the back of his hand.
Girolamo loves spending his spare time with the family. His son, Giovanni, is 9. Girolamo teaches him how to drive an excavator, chop the firewood, care about animals, build a tree house, and whatever is considered a DIY (do it yourself) activity – anything to keep Giovanni away from electronic games and sedentary life. Girolamo is married to Antonella, a nice lady who enjoys painting, sculpting, and is passionate about architecture and interior design.
Marble Extraction and Processing in Apricena
Whenever it comes to choosing from a wide range of natural stones for flooring or other purposes, marble emerges on the top among architects, homeowners, construction experts, builders, and others, Girolamo says. The first and foremost reason is the visual features and characteristics that lend it a distinctive appearance. Marble can be found in various parts of the world. However, Apricena’s marble is known for its superior quality and a wealth of diverse applications.
The main stages of marble processing are:
- Determining the site
- Doing the primary cuts
- Hydraulic cushions
- Lifting and carrying
- Processing in the factory (unloading and cutting)
Now, let us discover the quarries with Girolamo.
The Quarry that was Closed in the 80s has been Reopened
The first stop on our journey is the quarry that after being closed in the 80s has just been reopened to check whether when excavating further, any quality marble may be found by new tools and ultimate excavators, Girolamo says. He also tells us that tiny bones of prehistoric animals are often revealed and dug up while excavating.
Abandoned Marble Quarry – Canali’s Area
The second stop is at the abandoned marble quarry. Girolamo gives us a chance to visit this stunning place in the South of Italy that reminds us of some U.S. national parks. The sheer walls and straight drop-offs of the precisely removed stone create unnaturally deep pools of water as rain and groundwater collect in the artificial basin.
He tells us that some quarry lakes may look inviting on a hot summer’s day, but there are several hidden dangers, such as deep and cold water, underwater ledges and recesses, hidden currents and tunnels, submerged plants, dangerous algae, and more.
The quarries, specifically abandoned and disused ones, are dangerous places. Canali’s quarry is private and dangerous, so do not get into it, unless authorized and accompanied by an expert, like Girolamo.
Prehistoric Footprints Place in Apricena – Where Dinosaurs Walked
We finish our tour at an unexpected place. Girolamo let us step in the footprints of giants on “dinosaur highways” at a private marble quarry. Million years later, a set of dinosaur footprints from the Paleolithic period were discovered at one of Dell’Erba Marmi quarries in Apricena.
He explains that the stunned workers came across different impressions through marble layers that came from dinosaurs as they roamed across the landscape. It is a new ornithischian trackway from the early cretaceous of Apulia. The process of mining and extracting marble was stopped by the local Superintendency of Archeology. Please note that this location is privately owned, and permission is needed to approach.
We thank Girolamo Lombardi for experiencing the city of Apricena and its surrounding quarries through an amazing journey that only a local can take you on and for falling in love with seemingly cold and senseless marble that will never be such for us after visiting its home.
What to visit around Apricena
- Area Archeologica di Castel Pagano
- Palazzo Baronale
- Santuario Diocesano Maria SS. Incoronata
- Abbazia di San Giovanni Piano
- Gargano (which is an entire world to discover.170 km of coastline stunning beaches, pinewoods, creeks, cliffs, dunes, faraglioni, coves and bays).
What to do in Apricena
- Walking through the Historic downtown
- Tasting wine at Cantina Le Grotte
- Enjoying Summer Festivals (such as tuselli granocotto, pane abbrustolito e pan cotto)
- Enjoying jazz concerts at Cava Pizzicoli in August
Where to stay in Apricena
by Severino Ricci
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