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