Giuliano Giuliani’s quarry: an open-air center of art

The story of a tradition passed on from father to child and of a passion for sculpting.

In the Thirties the streets of the center of Ascoli Piceno were animated by a strong and constant pulsation. It was the sound of the chisels coming from the shops of the Mastri de Preta and from the basements where the scalpellinis refined travertine.

That of the travertine, in Ascoli, is a tradition that comes from the past centuries and a passion that is transmitted from father to the child. It has been this way too for the family of Giuliano Giuliani, sculptor and artist from the Marche region, that, when he was 11, brought something to eat to those who humbly worked for the extraction of travertine and also stole some stones to realize his first creatures.

His father devoted his life to the search and to the extraction of the travertine, moving up from Palombare, where the first layers were found in the post-war. On the 16th of June, 1952 Mario Giuliani reached Colle San Marco where he found some good sedimentations of calcium carbonate created by the Gran Caso stream, in the actual family quarry. He was one of the pioneers, not only in the extraction of travertine of the zone, but also in the settling and in the creation of an industry on the plain, oasis of peace a few kilometers away from the city, where in the early fifties there wasn’t any form of commercial activity, only an hermitage set in the rock.

It is not difficult to imagine how his father and his uncle – that together with 10 other people worked in the quarry – must have transmitted to him love for the nature and the passion to the artisan profession beyond the known fatigues and the sacrifices that that work implies. Currently, of the 13 quarries present in the zone of San Marco that between the sixties and the eighties lived their most flourishing period, they are all dismissed, the one of the Giuliani family too. Today the quarry has turned into an open-air studio for a sculptor.


Ascoli Piceno is also known as the City of Travertine. Over the centuries, this stone has been used in the construction of the city’s main buildings and have contributed to lend the historic centre its harmonious appearance and unique charm.


The so-called Pianoro di Colle San Marco is a plain located a short drive south of Ascoli Piceno. It’s an oasis of beauty and calm, surrounded by fascinating travertine caves. The “Pianoro” is home to many interesting cultural events, particularly during summer months.

The rock breathes and the characteristic compactness of the block of travertine seems to liquefy between the hands of Giuliano Giuliani that, with an extraordinary dexterity gives new form to the stone: from intact matter to vulnerable work, almost deprived of gravity. This is the impression that everyone has while observing with amazement the works in progress in his laboratory, sitting in some suggestive angles of the quarry.

The stone bursts into life, but rarely allows itself to be contaminated by other materials or external elements, as the contemporary sculpture does and considers fashionable. In his works the travertine tends towards imaginary forms derived from a long creative process, that sometimes can last years. The final result? Its works appear to us as a film of travertine that interacts with the light that slips out from its intimate cracks.

Giuliano’s choice of the isolation from the city routine, mirrors a deep vocation of the soul, a resistant body like the travertine. An insoluble bond is the one between the sculptor with his land, his house and the Pianoro where he lives with his family, three dogs and two horses. An oasis of beauty and peace that seems to have been given birth by the same quarry that embraces the park, in which some suggestive cultural events in summer are organized. The one used by Giuliano Giuliani, sculptor, teacher and all-round artist is the language of the stone, a hard language, difficult to transmit to the new generations, but with which he has tried to permeate the pupils of the Academies and the Institutes of Art in which he has taught, too.

The ascolan artist’s works have been shown in Italy and across the globe: Spain, France, as Giuliano struggles to remember. Among the exhibitions there is also one in Brufa (PG), in Umbria where the works of Giuliani were beside international artists of the caliber of Nagasawa.

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