Taking SS road 38 from Merano towards Resia Pass, at the town of Lasa, your attention will be drawn on the left woody slope by the presence of a rack railway. It is the so-called "piano inclinato" (inclined plane) used to transport the marble blocks to the valley bottom.
Broadly speaking, the name "Lasa marble" is used to indicate the marble historically extracted from the several quarries developing for a stretch of about 30 km on the southern slope of Val Venosta. Strictly speaking, today it is used to indicate the marble extracted from Croda di Jenn, in Valle di Lasa, from the tunnel quarry of "Acqua Bianca" and from the open-pit mine of Covelano, the only two that are still working.
The pure "white gold of Lasa" - going from pure white to arabesque shades from green to blue to gold yellow - was without a doubt already known at the times of the Romans: as a matter of fact, the milestone found in 1849 between Oris and Lasa country hamlets is made of this marble. The use of the marble for the building of portals, columns, and sculptures is documented only since 1100, while the beginning of the mining activities dates back to the late 19th century.
"Lasa marble" has been used to prepare the over 80,000 crosses and stars of David commissioned in the 1950s by the United States Government and placed in the American war cemeteries scattered all over the world.
The exploitation of the tunnel quarries is mainly linked to climatic factors. Since the quarries are situated between the 1,500 and the 2,000 meters of altitude, the tunnels enable the extraction of the marble blocks also during the winter.
Since 1929, the marble blocks of the quarry "Acqua Bianca" are continuously transported to the valley bottom through an interesting and eco-compatible railway system overcoming the difficulties caused by the difference in height.
From the quarry, the blocks are transported to the departure station of the inclined plane, for a stretch by cableway, and then for about 2 km on railway carts pulled by a locomotive. Once pushed on the inclined plane, the carts reach the valley bottom. At the arrival station, they are hooked to another locomotive and carried for about 1 km to the working plant after.
Lasa is indissolubly linked to its marble. This precious material has been used to make buildings, sculptures, church altars, the cemetery burial stones; the pavement and the main square have been paved with it.
Moreover, Lasa houses an important professional school for marble working, training skillful and appreciated sculptors and stonecutters.
Guided visits dedicated to marble: Tel. +39 0473/626342-620480. On Saturdays in June and October, on Tuesdays and Thursdays in July, August, and September
Meeting point: at 1.30 p.m. c/o Cultural House "San Giuseppe" - Via Felius/Via Scuola - Lasa. In the other months, by previous booking only.
Municipality: Lasa / Laas (BZ) Region: Trentino-Alto Adige