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Carrara marble quarries
Photo © Emma Ivarsson
Photo © Emma Ivarsson

Off-roading in the Carrara marble quarries

A journey among the marble stones in the Tuscan city of Carrara

Tiana Kai
by  Tiana Kai

When I think of marble I imagine a sleek, modern kitchen with bright light creeping in and a lush view of a pool. I have never thought ‘oh, where on earth does this slab of marble come from?’ All this changed the day I met the Indiana Jones of Carrara—our tour guide.

The journey began on a dreary, rainy day in this little town in north Tuscany. My absolute favorite car pulled up beside us, a Defender. Bad to the bone. Out stepped our Carrara marble quarry tour guide. I got all excited and jumped in the backseat ready for whatever was ahead.

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    Tour of Carrara marble quarries

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Tour of Carrara marble quarries

Carrara town
Carrara town - Credit: Emma Ivarsson

I had no idea what to expect, just piles of marble I thought. I was so wrong. The drive began through the quaint town surrounded by hills and continued up wet, sketchy switchbacks until we were way above the foggy cloudline. The drive got so steep at some points that I grabbed Emma’s (photographer) hand out of fear.

Our guide explained the history of Carrara and its slaves and how they mined the quarries hundreds of years ago in Roman times. It was so fascinating to imagine how life was in these fancy mountains so long ago. He had so many great tales to tell along the windy trails and he explained each type of marble and extravagant stories of how some people have been known to just point at a raw ton of marble and say ‘I want that’ for a pretty chunk of change.

We made our way up to what’s known as Michelangelo marble and got out for a short walk. It is the infamous stone that is used to make statues. One by one we all chose a small piece from the muddled marble floor to take back home with us. It was very odd to step on marble the size of a house covered in mud thinking that one day this too would be in someone’s kitchen.

Now that I am back home I smile and remember my journey up the marble mountain whenever I see marble in a home or church. It was a very special day and luckily the unusual amount of heavy fog allowed me to take some of the most mystical, unique pictures yet. I don’t have a marble kitchen, but I can frame a nice shot from the marble quarries.

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