cave-medicee-di-diaspro credit: Keane

Medici Jasper Quarries

When under Florentine rule, jasper was quarried in Barga. This hard ornamental stone is composed of blood-red quartz with white veins.

The Jasper of Barga was used to decorate the Noble Medici Chapels of the Basilica of San Lorenzo in Florence. It was Cosimo I de’ Medici who commissioned the structure to perpetuate the memory of the Medici dynasty.

If you look carefully at the walls of the chapel, you can see the typical red Jasper of Barga.

As well as in the Medici Chapels, you can still see a fair amount of jasper in the Opificio delle pietre dure in Florence. The Opificio, commissioned by Ferdinando I de’ Medici, was the workshop that dealt with finishing the jasper to be used in the Medici Chapels.

Thanks to some delivery registers that have survived until today we can follow the road taken by the Jasper from Barga to Florence.

The 'Jasper Road' began in the quarries along the Loppora stream in Giuncheto. Once extracted, the Jasper blocks were transported to the Serchio River. From here they were transported on “foderi” (rafts made from wooden logs) to the Maritime Arsenal of Pisa where they were semi-finished by Turkish slaves. Next, the precious cargo were taken up the river Arno to the port of Signa Maggiore and from here the jasper was transported by land to the Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence for final processing.

Today, the Barga quarries are still very rich in jasper. This noble stone can be seen on the surface with seams that emerge from the rocky walls, with various inclinations, thinknesses, colours and qualities.

Source: La guida di Barga

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