Candoglia: the sources of the Duomo . Located at the entrance to Val d’Ossola, the ancient quarries granted by Gian Galeazzo Visconti to Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo for excavation of the precious marble for the great Milanese Cathedral are living proof of a long artisan tradition that goes back over six centuries. Everything started here. Generation after generation of men transformed this mountain into live energy for the Cathedral, putting their manual skills, ancient knowledge and hard work at the service of the Fabbrica.
Not everyone knows that in Candoglia, in the 1950s, on the initiative of the then President Achille Marazza, Veneranda Fabbrica promoted the establishment of a “marble school”, with the birth of a dedicated section in 1950 as part of the State Vocational Training School of Novara. Under the stimulus of the Fabbrica, a consortium was set up between the various municipalities of Val d’Ossola to support the initiative, with purchase of the old Villa Oliva in which the general classrooms were housed, subsequently enlarged by the addition of other classrooms and halls, including a refectory with capacity of over one hundred students “equipped with central heating system and all the latest services”, as described in a text of the time: certainly a luxury, in a region where the houses were frequently heated by wood or coal and did not have indoor toilet facilities.
Within the “marble school”, housed in the building belonging to the Fabbrica, in coordination with the general education lessons held in the Villa, the pupils practised marble working, assisted by an expert marble cutter who taught the technique and held geometrical drawing lessons, and by an artist to learn the techniques of ornamental modelling.
For many pupils, the “marble school” of the Fabbrica represented a huge artisan workshop where they could learn marble working techniques, and for the best ones there was the opportunity of being subsequently employed on the Cathedral construction sites and even making the grade in Milan. Just imagine how many young people’s hopes, plans and dreams were nurtured between those walls!
The old school was closed in 1969, but the buildings near the river Toce represent yet another chapter in the never-ending story of the Duomo, a true fairy tale.