A visit to the marble quarries of Carrara is perhaps like none other in Italy.
Delicious Italy was invited on a private tour to check out the zone as part of a day which also included a couple of hours on a fishing boat with lunch from the port of Massa.
Unfortunately, due to rough weather, the boat trip was cancelled giving us the opportunity of experiencing the whole territory from the narrow road leaving the town of Carrara all the way to a cloud level view of the whole zone towards Massa.
The quarrying of marble near the coastal town of Carrara in north west Tuscany has an unbroken two thousand year old tradition. What began in Roman times, continued at pace during the Renaissance, has survived to the present day.
There may have been a few modern innovations in recent years, but the work is a hard and dangerous as it ever was. You can't appreciate the scale of the zone until you have been there.
Today, the majority of the marble is exported abroad leading to recent questioning as to the transparency of operations in terms of not benefitting the local community as could be expected.
The main picture on this page is just one small quarry amongst many, each a concession and supplying slightly different qualities of raw material based on a precise demand.
Most impressive are the lorry drivers who shift the tons of stone driving up and down precipitous temporary roads. They don't stop for anyone as we were told by our driver as he piled on the gas to escape one determined driver on our tail.
Here's a little about the quarries of the Apuan Alps where exploitation occurs:
Cervaiole - Piastrone - Tendone
It is possible to reach these quarries from the road to Castelnuovo Garfagnana before reaching the Cipollaio tunnel. Since 1800 the white arabesque marble is extracted "open-air" or cut horizontally into the flank of the mountain.
Trambiserra - La Mossa - Tacca Bianca
Reachable from Seravezza to Riomagno-Malbacco along the river Serra. This is where the white statuary marble used by Michelangelo is found. He was actually the one who opened the Tacca Bianca quarry.
Collettino - Bozzo - Faniello - Tombaccio
Reachable from dust tracks after passing Arni. In addition to the white arabesque, also other types marble like the "fantastico" and the "breccia" are extracted here.
This is the most interesting and suggestive quarry as the white arabesque marble is extracted in tunnels underground. It is reachable from Levigliani through dust tracks.