The pink marble of Candoglia and Milan Duomo

Perhaps not everybody knows that the Ossola Valley supplies marble and stone used for the construction of Italian monuments famous throughout the world, among which Milan Cathedral (Duomo), which was built using the special pink marble of the Candoglia Quarry, in the Mergozzo district.
Further up from the Candoglia district, precisely at the mouth of Ossola Valley, lie the primary sources of Milan Cathedral, the quarries from which the marble used for the construction of the Cathedral originated and still used today for the maintenance of one of the most famous Italian religious buildings in the world. Its exceptional physical-chemical features, together with its resistance to the environmental menaces and the crystalline beauty of its pink speckling make it a material of significant value.
It was the founder of the Veneranda Fabbrica (worshipful company) of Milan Cathedral, Gian Galeazzo Visconti, who decided to replace brick, the first-considered material, originally intended for the building of the Cathedral, with marble.
For this purpose, in 1387 the Candoglia Quarries were granted to the Veneranda Fabbrica for its use, and transport of the marble blocks was offered free of cost to the city of Milan, via waterborne routes: indeed this transport took place along the rive Toce to Lake Maggiore, then along the river Ticino and the Naviglio Canale (Main canal) to the quay of Sant’Eustorgio in Milan.

The marble was then transported through the canal lock system built by the Cathedral Building Company, and reached what today is the Via Laghetto, a few hundred metres away from the site of the Cathedral. In order to reach the Cathedral free of customs charges, the bargees used the password “AUF”, the Latin for Ad usum fabricae, i.e. for the use of the Company, and this expression, now pronounced “A ufo”, is still used in the region of Lombardy to mean “free of charge”.
The trunk road to Candoglia was then built, though the blocks of pink marble continues to be transported by water until 1920.

The Candoglia Marble Quarry, origin of the Milan Cathedral stone, is one of the jewels of this territory, both for the feat of engineering it represents and for the more recent tourist value of the mountain tunnel: each year, the Val Grande National Park, in collaboration with the Ecomuseo del Granito (Granite Ecological Museum), organises guided tours of the Candoglia Marble Quarry.

Further information: www.parcovalgrande.itinfo@parcovalgrande.it

Info: www.ecomuseogranitomontorfano.itwww.duomomilano.it

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Everybody
You will discover
Culture, traditions and folklore
History and art
Hidden treasures
IAT di Mergozzo
Corso Roma, 20
28802 Mergozzo (VB)
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