Convento La Perla belonged to one of the oldest churches in the diocese of Luni and nearby there was the Pieve di San Lorenzo located on Monte Libero (the free mountain).
Previously this area was inhabited by the proud unbending “Apuani”, one of whom was Aronte, the shaman who foretold the future by interpreting the flight of birds, and also, by interpreting their entrails. Aronte was celebrated by Dante Alighieri in his “Divina Commedia” : “Inferno” canto XX:
Aronta è ch'al ventre li s'atterga,
che ne' monti di Luni, dove ronca
lo Carrarese che di sotto alberga,
ebbe tra ' bianchi marmi la spelonca
per sua dimora; onde a guardar le stelle
e 'l mar no li era la veduta tronca.
Hence, “Convento La Perla” is in the same place where Aronte and Dante could see both the sea and the stars, the very same we see from the garden of the Convento La Perla.
Hercules, Jupiter and Bacchus are portrayed in a bas-relief of Fantiscritti now preserved in the Academy of Fine Arts in Carrara. This relief bears the hallmarks of the most important sculptors from Michaelangelo to Canova.
According to legend, an ancient temple dedicated to Hercules was situated in the vicinity of the Convent before Pieve San Lorenzo was built. This temple was important for the sailors of antiquity sailing on the Tyrrhenian Sea. Local winegrowers remember this legend and seem to feel its power on the night of San Lorenzo, 10th August, when the Earth possesses the power of Hercules and pulls the stars towards itself.
Carrara is a world famous centre of marble, its production and its use and it is this that makes the people and the city so special. In the people of Carrara you can see their spirit and their strength; both characteristics gives them the strength to quarry the marble and the ability to transform it into works of art and architectural masterpieces, two examples of which are the giant who guards the cathedral and the 15th century Tuscan cathedral itself where the perfect balance of space and material, light and shadow exists.