Carrara Marble: discover the history of the famous white gold

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  • 4 hr

Carrara was born in the foothills of the Apuan Alps and it’s considered the world capital of marble at date. World famous Carrara marble is still extracted from the quarries of Apuan Alps, each year tens of millions of tons of marble and other hard stones are mined and processed. In a Land Rover Defender, along narrow and windy gravel roads, we will reach the highest point of the marble caves. This experience will allow you to see the modern machinery used for marble excavation and to understand the techniques used during the different steps. Then, heading to the second valley, we will stop on the way for a glass of refreshing Prosecco, before visiting the second cave underground. Once you will be accompanied back to the starting point, a full Tuscan lunch based on local specialties combined with Lardo di Colonnata tasting IGP, will be the best way to end up with this delightful day.

Itinerary Details

Operated by: Tuscany Private Tour

This is a typical itinerary for this product

Stop At: Marble Caves of Carrara

Carrara marble has been used since the time of Ancient Rome[1] and it was called the "Luni marble". In the 17th and 18th centuries, the marble quarries were monitored by the Cybo and Malaspina families who ruled over Massa and Carrara. The family created the "Office of Marble" in 1564 to regulate the marble mining industry.[2] The city of Massa, in particular, saw much of its plan redesigned (new roads, plazas, intersections, pavings) in order to make it worthy of an Italian country's capital.[3] Following the extinction of the Cybo-Malaspina family, the state was ruled by the House of Austria and management of the mines rested with them. The Basilica of Massa is built entirely of Carrara marble and the old Ducal Palace of Massa was used to showcase the precious stone.[4] By the end of the 19th century, Carrara had become a cradle of anarchism in Italy, in particular among the quarry workers. According to a New York Times article of 1894, workers in the marble quarries were among the most neglected labourers in Italy. Many of them were ex-convicts or fugitives from justice. The work at the quarries was so tough and arduous that almost any aspirant worker with sufficient muscle and endurance was employed, regardless of their background.[5] The quarry workers and stone carvers had radical beliefs that set them apart from others. Anarchism and general radicalism became part of the heritage of the stone carvers. Many violent revolutionists who had been expelled from Belgium and Switzerland went to Carrara in 1885 and founded the first anarchist group in Italy.[5] In Carrara, the anarchist Galileo Palla remarked, “even the stones are anarchists.”[6] The quarry workers were the main actors of the Lunigiana revolt in January 1894.

Duration: 3 hour

Stop At: Colonnata

olonnata's history dates back to its settlement, around 40 BC. It was built for the housing of slaves used in quarrying marble after Rome decided to replace expensive imported Greek marble with local (Luni) marble. The name of the settlement is believed derived from the Latin word columna, indicating the place where columns of marble were extracted to be sent to Rome, but the origin of the name could also be the Latin collis ("hill") or columen ( "top"). The quarries may also have been used by the Ligurian Apuani tribe, who were perhaps also used later as quarrying experts. Evidence of mining activity dating back to the 6th century BC has been found at "Fossa Carbonera", Fantiscritti. Based on a stone found in 1810 bearing the names of the consuls of the years 16 - 22 AD, it appears that the settlement was run by settlers and a magistrate, all of servile origin, who oversaw the work. Additional records date back only to the 13th century, while the church of the village is believed to date back to the 12th century. It's possible, however, that in the Middle Ages Colonnata was used as a defensive stronghold for those who controlled these areas after the Roman Empire (the Byzantines, the Goths and Lombards). The village is still mainly supported by mining. The breeding of pigs, promoted by the abundance of chestnut trees, was introduced to Colonnata, perhaps by the Lombards[when?]. Over time, this industry evolved, in particular processing freshly slaughtered meat, which was used as bread spread by the quarrymen, thus starting the traditional production of the famous pork fat delicacy, Lardo di Colonnata.

Duration: 1 hour

Pass By: Carrara

There were known settlements in the area as early as the 9th century BC, when the Apuan Ligures lived in the region. The current town originated from the borough built to house workers in the marble quarries created by the Romans after their conquest of Liguria in the early 2nd century BC. Carrara has been linked with the process of quarrying and carving marble since the Roman Age. Marble was exported from the nearby harbour of Luni at the mouth of river Magra.[4] In the early Middle Ages it was a Byzantine and then Lombard possession, and then, it was under the Bishops of Luni who started to write the city's history when the Emperor Otto I gave it to them.[5] It turned itself into a city-state in the early 13th century; during the struggle between Guelphs and Ghibellines, Carrara usually belonged to the latter party. The Bishops acquired it again in 1230, their rule ending in 1313, when the city was given in succession to the Republics of Pisa, Lucca and Florence. Later it was acquired by Gian Galeazzo Visconti of Milan. After the death of Filippo Maria Visconti of Milan in 1447, Carrara was fought over by Tommaso Campofregoso, lord of Sarzana, and again the Malaspina family, who moved here the seat of their signoria in the second half of the 15th century. Carrara and Massa formed the Duchy of Massa and Carrara from the 15th to the 19th century. Under the last Malaspina, Maria Teresa, who had married Ercole III d'Este, it became part of the Duchy of Modena. After the short Napoleonic rule of Elisa Bonaparte, it was given back to Modena. During the unification of Italy age, Carrara was the seat of a popular revolt led by Domenico Cucchiari, and was a center of Giuseppe Mazzini's revolutionary activity. The Alberto Meschi monument in Carrara. Carrara in 1911. At the end of the 19th century Carrara became the cradle of anarchism in Italy, in particular among the quarry workers. The quarry workers, including the stone carvers, had radical beliefs that set them apart from others. Ideas from outside the city began to influence the Carrarese. Anarchism and general radicalism became part of the heritage of the stone carvers. According to a New York Times article of 1894 many violent revolutionists who had been expelled from Belgium and Switzerland went to Carrara in 1885 and founded the first anarchist group in Italy.[6] Carrara has remained a continuous 'hotbed' of anarchism in Italy, with several organizations located openly in the city. The Anarchist marble workers were also the driving force behind organising labour in the quarries and in the carving sheds. They were also the main protagonists of the Lunigiana revolt in January 1894. In 1929, the municipalities of Carrara, Massa and Montignoso were merged in a single municipality, called Apuania. In 1945 the previous situation was restored. Carrara is the birthplace of the International Federation of Anarchists (IFA), formed in 1968.
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