Carrara, The Capital of Marble, Where The Apuan Alps Meet The Ligurian Sea

A very brief history of the Capital of Marble, on the border with Tuscany and Liguria + some tips for visiting Carrara and its surroundings.
Particular of the Cathedral
Particular of the Cathedral
Feb. 24, 2012 - PRLog -- The origin of Carrara – situated in the northernmost part of Tuscany - is tied up to its valuable marble, known all over the world since the Roman Age: the marmor lunensis or “Lunense Marble”, extracted from the Apuan quarries and exported through the old port of Luni, was used to raise the most important public buildings of Rome and a lot of patrician houses, since the times of Gaius Julius Caesar. In the 5th century the quarry activity underwent a period of stagnation due to the barbarian invasions, but with the spread of Christianity large quantities of marble were used again for the construction and the interior decorating of churches. The intense quarry activity was mainly due to the Comacine Masters, including Nicola and Giovanni Pisano, who used the marble for their works, especially in Central Italy; during the Renaissance, Michelangelo used to come to Carrara to choose personally the blocks for his statues!

The city developed around the Ecclesia Sancti Andree de Carraria (12th century) the current Cathedral, which is considered the most beautiful Romanesque building of the province; in the 13th century the city centre was englobed into walls, that included the fortress and the city hall. Towards the middle of the 16th century, the Cybo-Malaspina Family extended the walls and changed the urban structure of the city: the new city walls surrounded also the amazing Alberica Square and the villages of Caffaggio and Grazzano. In the 19th century Carrara experienced another territorial expansion due to the economic and demographic growth determined by the gravestone industry; during the following century instead, a port and a wharf were built, for the shipment of the marble.

Things You Can Visit in Carrara

Visit Palazzo Cybo Malaspina - built over a pre-existing Lombard castle – and formed by two distinct buildings: the Castello Malaspiniano (13th century) and the Renaissance palace (late 16th century) which is also the seat of the Fine Arts Academy.  Also look for the Church of the Suffragio (begun in 1688 and renovated in the 19th century), the Church and Convent of San Francesco, the Evangelical Methodist Church and the Church of San Michele in Gragnana. Another gorgeous attraction is certainly Alberica Square, built in the 17th century and surrounded by several buildings, which belonged to some old aristocratic families from Carrara; in the middle of the square there is a beautiful fountain with a pond and a marble lion, surmounted by the sculpture of Duchess Maria Beatrice d'Este. Admire the trapezoid-shaped Cathedral Square (also known as Piazza “Drent”) surrounded by some medieval buildings - restored and enlarged between the 16th and the 17th century - including Michelangelo's house: look for a Romanesque-Gothic building situated on the south side of the Cathedral. Finally the Animosi Theatre, located in “For d' porta” and built in the 19th century by the architect Giuseppe Pardini. Since 1982, the city has hosted also the Civic Marble Museum, which provides a home for the historic memory of Carrara, documenting and conserving the city's marble culture.

The Surroundings

Three kilometers away from Carrara stand the ruins of ancient Moneta Castle (to reach this fortification of course and especially the other attractions in the surroundings, it's better that you rent a car if you don't have yours!) another idea could be visiting the Castruccio Castracani Castle in Avenza.

17 kilometers away from the city stands Fosdinovo, a fascinating town home to an extraordinary medieval castle of the Malaspina Family; Fosdinovo is also the seat of the famous Medieval Festival in July.

Finally, just 7 kilometers from the Capital of Marble, stands Colonnata, an ancient village known worldwide for the pork fat delicacy called Lardo di Colonnata and for its marble quarries; here you can take beautiful walks and admire the historic features of the village, such as the use of marble in murals, doorways, doorjambs, windows and so on.

Caterina Pomini

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Tags:Tuscany, Tuscany Tours, Florence car service, Florence car rent, vacation in Tuscany, Carrara, Massa-Carrara, Fosdinovo
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Location:Florence - Florence - Italy
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Page Updated Last on: Feb 24, 2012
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