It's obvious to me that I have become WAY too disorganized to write about our vacation last fall in chronological order. Somehow my days seems to be even fuller than they were in Italy, and the idea of a schedule seems too much to handle. So, I'll just write about whatever place or adventure pops into my head. Today I'll tell you about Carrara.
Carrara, yes, the place where the marble comes from, is at the northwestern edge of Tuscany and we never figured out how to visit it when we lived in Italy. Still, it was at the top of our wish list, and when we decided to visit the Cinque Terre, a stop at Carrara made perfect sense.
As usual an internet search and some questions on the Slow Travel message board helped. I found
Fantiscritti, a marble quarry that's located deep inside the mountain, and decided that because we'd be there on a Sunday this might be our best option. We knew we probably wouldn't see much work going on, but the tour would let us get a little closer to the marble in it's natural state.
Once we entered the marble 'cave', we learned that each company is assigned the right to excavate by the local government. I don't remember how many different companies are active right now, but I was surprised to find out that there was another company excavating just ABOVE the 'cave' we were in, and another one below it! Of course there's quite a bit of space left in between those layers, but for me it was still rather amazing to think of the weight of the marble itself, combined with all the heavy equipment, and to wonder what would happen if the floor of the cave collapsed.
The inside of the cave looks like an ice cave. It was much quieter on a Sunday than it would have been on a workday. The walls of the cave hold the noise in and make it echo, so ear protection is a must - but I wonder if it really helps? Because the 'rooms' of the cave are so huge, they are often used for filming commercials or hosting exhibitions. One of the fancy car companies, maybe Ferrari or Lamborghini, shot an ad campaign inside the quarry and there was an exhibition of very large, rather strange marble scuptures going on while we were there.
There was of course the requisite gift shop, which was simple but effective, as well as an outdoor display of old tools, some marble sculptures and a little history about the marble of Carrara. For me it was not only interesting to see Carrara, but the idea of a cave made it even more appealing. Had we had some extra time I would have also enjoyed visiting a real cave in Tuscany, la Grotta del Vento, but I guess that will have to wait for another trip.
Here's a slideshow of all the photos we took that day: