On the road from Pisa to Cinque Terre, you also pass along Carrara that is known because of its marble mines. From the beginning of the landing in Pisa, from the train or from the highway, you can see the White Mountains. It is both an open exploitation (overground) and an internal exploitation (inside the mountain). Information on the internet is scarce. Fortunately our 'waiter' in Carrara could give us some useful tips.
On his advice we take the road to Miseglia (via Ospedale). We do not enter the village, but immediately follow the road to the ‘Cave’ Fantiscritti. At the bridge with arches you can make a first stop, but you still need to drive a mile or two farther to reach Fantiscritti. Here we opted for the guided tour of Marmotour, which brought us 600 meters deep into the mountain. In a huge space (larger than a cathedral) marble block with dimensions up to 11 meters and a weight of up to 60 tons, are still extracted. The sawing of one single block takes about one week. Large trucks take the blocks outside of the mine.
Don't miss the 'Marmotour'. It gives you a clear view how the marble blocks are taken out of the mountain. It takes about 40 minutes, the guides speak english.
Address : Piazzale Fantiscritti, 84 - Miseglia
Tel : +39 339 7657470
website : www.marmotour.com
Open all days from 11 am till 5 pm, in high season from 10 am till 6 pm.
In Fantiscritti it is also possible to make an aboveground tour (with 4x4) and to visit (free access) the museum of Walter Danesi, in which some sculptures and especially the old tools are shown. Not to be missed!
After the visit, you should definitely continue driving, in other words, not return on your steps. After a few hundred meters you will be sent in a tunnel of about 1.5 km, and arrive on the other side of the mountain. When leaving the tunnel you have the choice. Right it goes downhill and through another tunnel (careful when driving out of this!) back to the bridge with arches. If you turn left you will come to a bifurcation which brings you also to Colonnata.
Park the car in the parking lot before entering into the village. The stairs then go to the square and the church. There is a statue of the miners with another beautiful view on the opposite mountain, where the heavily loaded trucks search their way down, along impossible hairpin bents.
You should not leave Colonnata without tasting the 'Lardo di Colonnata'. This is the fat layer of the bacon that for several months matured with salt in marble tubs and then is served in thin slices on a hot sandwich. Colonnata, with only 300 inhabitants, has not less than 8 producers of bacon.
One of these can be found on the road that leads from Colonatta to Carrara. At Giannarelli , you should taste the salumeria, amongst others the lard, which are all produced locally. The pick-nick tables in the garden are ready, with a magnificent view on the marble mountains in front.
Address : Via Colonnata 2 (located in a bend on the road from Colonnata to Bedizzano).
Tel : +39 0585 758093
Open from monday to friday (from 8.30 am till 12.30 pm uur and from 3.30 pm till 6.30 pm) and on saturday (from 8.30 am till 12.30 pm)
The town of Carrara is also worth a visit. In the center of the city are of course numerous buildings erected in marble, with the Duomo as the main attraction, and further different palaces in Piazza d'Alberica.
The museum at Viale XX Settembre accommodates both artworks and information about the exploitation of the marble.
If you love wine, you should visit the Cantina Lvnae in Ortonovo. This is one of the largest wine producers with vineyards in Liguria (about 45 ha) mainly in Ortonovo and Castelnuovo Magra, where they are protected by the Alpi Apuane from the cold north winds.
Lvnae works with various local grape varieties, which are sometimes very old: Vermentino, Albarola, Massareta and Malvasia Nera Pollera. The boss Paolo Bosoni is a true self-made man who started selling local agricultural products in a small shop.
In 2004 the company established its headquarters in Ca'Lvnae, a beautifully restored farmhouse with a small wine museum and a tasting room.
Visitors can choose between a free visit to the Ca'Lvnae including a small (free) tasting in the tasting room, or a guided tour of the museum, the laboratory for the liqueur and a more extensive tasting. For the guided tour you must book a few days before (tel. 0187 693 483).
Addres : Ca'Lvnae - via Palvotrisia 2, Castelnuovo Magra
More info : www.cantinelunae.it
Open from Monday to Saturday (9.00-13.00 en 14.30-19.30) and on Sunday morning (9.30- 12.30)