WHEN we came to the high-up village, high up above Carrara, it was like winter but it was April, not a tree out, and sometimes it was mist and rain like Wales. The Sculptor had been given the use of a ruined villa — confiscated by the Comune from a noted fascist — and here, under a partially covered balcony of the roofless villa, the first marble sculptures were made. As most of the men in the village were quarrymen or marble-workers, the presence of a sculptor did not seem strange.
We lodged with La Dirce, a widow, in the top of her house. The marble table in the kitchen was cold, the marble floor was cold, we had to light a fire at night. It was a mystery to us what to do about wood. Wood was everywhere. It was being chopped in the fist-sized piazza under the naked plane trees outside our window. It was being cut on every chestnut hillside, trussed and faggotted and trotted in on muleback. It was being carted morning, noon and night on women’s heads, faggots proudly sailing through the village. In Dirce’s backyard the bundles were stacked as high as the roof.