Carrara: the world capital of white marble

Carrara is known worldwide for its white marble: in fact, it is the headquarters of the Apuan-Versilia marble industry. In ancient Roman times, the city was founded around the white marble mountains and artists from all over the world have gone to Carrara to choose a piece of “white gold” for their works. Carrara is situated along the Ligurian Sea, in north-western Tuscany. Together with Massa, it gives its name to the province of Massa-Carrara, which extends from the sea to the Apuan Alps.
[Photo Credits: Chiara Vitellozzi]
[Photo Credits: Chiara Vitellozzi]
There are many things to see in Carrara, the main attractions are:
  • The historic centre: the original inhabited centre was located in an area around Piazza Duomo. The first settlements are traced back to the Romans who used the marble from nearby quarries for the construction of monuments, even though the most important centre of the area was Luni.
  • The Carrara Cathedral or Duomo di Carrara is a Roman Catholic church located in the square of the same name and nearly all the exterior is covered by local Carrara marble and presents Tuscan, Lombard and Parma influences. The Duomo, dedicated to Saint Andrew the Apostle, was built with a Romanesque layout, and features Gothic elements. On the façade of the cathedral there is a wheel with the engraving "Fortitudo mea in rota" (“my strength is in the wheel”): this is the coat of arms of Carrara that appears on many other buildings in the historic centre and underlines the importance that marble has always had for the economy of Carrara. The bell tower, which is 33 meters tall, was added in the fourteenth century. The Duomo stands in Piazza Duomo, where you can find a fountain of Andrea Doria, resembling Neptune by Baccio Bandinelli.
Carrara Cathedral [Photo Credits: Holly Hayes]
Carrara Cathedral [Photo Credits: Holly Hayes]
  • The Accademia di Belle Arti was located in the former residence of the Cybo-Malaspina family, one of the area’s most notable noble families. It’s a 16th century palace and the building became the location of the Fine Art Academy in 1805. The façade has a prevalent baroque seventeenth-century style, large windows and a big portal decorated with many marble inserts. A monument dedicated to the sculptor Pietro Tacca, who was from Carrara, stands in front of the palace.
  • The construction of Chiesa del Suffragio started in 1688 on the project attributed to Innocenzo Bergamini and it was later rebuilt in 1800. The façade is simple but enriched with a large marble Baroque doorway featuring a bas-relief of the Madonna with the souls in Purgatory, by the sculptor Carlo Finelli. The church has a Latin-cross plan and is topped by a dome covered with slate. The interior is in the Baroque style and features rich marbles of varying colours that create a dramatic effect. The high altar in polychrome marble is located between two winged skulls. The name of the church comes from the altarpiece, where a Virgin of the Suffrage was painted in oil by an anonymous painter. The church has been deconsecrated since the second half of the twentieth century, and it now hosts temporary exhibits.
Accademia di Belle Arti [Photo Credits: Cea.]
Accademia di Belle Arti [Photo Credits: Cea.]
  • The Chiesa del Carmine dates back to sixteenth century. The main door features a Madonna and Child by Bartolomeo Ordoñez and the interior features a polychrome marble altar with a 16th-century painting, dedicated to the Virgin of Carmelo, and an altar, dedicated to Santa Maria Maddalena dei Pazzi.
  • Via Santa Maria is just in front of the Chiesa del Carmine and is one of the most ancient and characteristic streets of the city. At number 14 is the most important house of the street that belonged to Emanuele Repetti, who supposedly hosted the Italian poet and writer Petrarch in 1343.
  • Piazza Alberica is another important square where we can find some of Carrara's magnificent noble and illustrious palazzos and a fountain with a neoclassical statue dedicated to Maria Beatrice d’Este by Pietro Fontana.
[Photo credits: Alessandro Casalini]
[Photo credits: Alessandro Casalini]
  • The Teatro degli Animosi is a marble neoclassical work, with a nearby monument to Giuseppe Garibaldi by Carlo Nicoli. The theatre was built in the nineteenth century.
  • Via Loris Giorgi is one of the most beautiful and important streets in Carrara and boasts many well conserved seventeenth. and eighteenth-century palazzos.
  • The Civic Marble Museum was built in 1982 and contains artefacts and documents on the culture of marble. It is organized in six indoor sections, while outside there is an area with the most beautiful “Marbleteque” in Italy.
Carrara - Duomo Saint Andrea - Side View [Photo Credits: Cea. http://ow.ly/hUBGS]
Carrara - Duomo Saint Andrea - Side View [Photo Credits: Cea. http://ow.ly/hUBGS]
How to reach Carrara By train The Carrara-Avenza railway station is the nearest to the city centre but is really not that close because it is situated 5 kilometres away. By airplane The closest airports to Massa are the Galileo Galilei Airport of Pisa, the Leonardo da Vinci Airport in Florence and the Cristoforo Colombo airport in Genoa. By car Carrara is easy to reach by car. Take the highway A12 Genova-Livorno, the A11 Firenze-Pisa Nord and the A15 Parma-La Spezia. There are also toll-free streets like the Aurelia, Passo della Cisa, and Passo del Cerreto that lead to Carrara. By bus The area is served by the ATN transport service. See http://www.atnsrl.it/ for details.