Touring the Marble Quarries of Carrara, Italy

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Driving on the interstate toward La Spezia in Italy, the mountains look like they are covered in snow. But it’s actually marble.

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Mountains made of marble in Carrara.

While doing research on Italy before our trip, I kept seeing things about the marble quarries in Carrara, but didn’t know if we’d be in the area. After deciding to stay a week in Sarzana, Carrara was only about a 20-minute drive, so the person that helped us book our accommodations set us up with a tour of the quarries in a 4×4. Our guide was an extremely knowledgeable German lady named Heiki.

Our tour guide, Heiki.

Our tour guide, Heiki.

There are marble quarries all around the world (the biggest is in Vermont, apparently), but the white marble found in Carrara has been used since Ancient Roman times (Michelangelo got his marble for David here!). All around Carrara, the buildings are made of white marble and there are sculptures everywhere you turn. If you’ve seen the James Bond movie Quantum of Solace, the beginning car chase sequence was shot here as well (Heiki actually drove some of the crew up the mountain for filming).

The dirt roads up the mountains are narrow, winding and bumpy, and looking out the window from the Jeep, the drop off into the ravines below was insane (I’m still dealing with my fear of heights). Holding on to the bars inside the 4×4, we all felt a little like Indiana Jones. It was pretty fun and terrifying at the same time. I was scared at some points, but I kept telling myself that huge trucks take these roads every day and have been for hundreds of years, and Heiki is a professional. It was her fourth time up the mountain that day! At some points the huge trucks had to go backwards down the mountain because they couldn’t turn around. It was crazy.

We were really high up.

We were really high up. You can see all the roads the trucks take that wind around the mountain.

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Kind of looks like Machu Picchu, doesn’t it?

A replica of how the marble quarrying works.

A replica of how the marble quarrying works. It’s clear now, yes?

Our group admiring the view.

Our group admiring the view.

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The trucks in action.

The tractors in action.

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Our trusty 4×4.

The quarry where Michelangelo got his marble for David.

The quarry where Michelangelo got his marble for David. He came and picked it out himself.

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We drove through tunnels to get to the caves inside the mountain. Another Indiana Jones moment.

We drove through tunnels to get to the caves inside the mountain. Another Indiana Jones moment.

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The caves were massive.

It was a really neat experience, and unlike anything I’ve ever done. If you are in the vicinity of a marble quarry, I highly recommend taking a tour!

5 comments

  1. That’s so cool and unique! I had no idea mountains of marble existed ha, which just goes to show that I need to travel more! I’d love to check something like this out! It looks really pretty and how neat is it that Michelangelo hand picked his marble from there??

  2. That is so freaking cool! We actually have a quarry less than a mile from my house. It’s not marble though I don’t think…actually I have no idea what they are digging for in there. But they do tours and I’ve always wanted to check it out. I think this would be much more picturesque though. 🙂

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