The pure white marble from Carrara’s quarries has been used since Roman times for everything from landmarks like the Pantheon to Renaissance sculptures like Michelangelo’s David. Take a guided tour through the massive underground caverns and open-air quarries and see where this stone has been mined for centuries.
Carved out of Tuscany’s Apuan Alps above the city of Carrara, more than 600 marble mines—both abandoned and active—have produced more marble than any other area in the world. Carrara marble tours include a stop at the Museo dei Bozzetti sculpture museum in Pietrasanta to see the collection of contemporary works made from Carrara marble before continuing on to the quarry. Here, you can choose between one of two tours: a 4x4 tour through a series of open-air mines to the central quarry at Fantiscritti, which offers expansive views to the sea and a small museum; or the underground tour into the vast marble cave carved deep in the mountainside known as the Marble Cathedral.
Both tours are led by an expert tour guide and can be paired with lunch at the nearby town of Colonnata, famous for its Lardo di Colonnata cured in Carrara marble basins. Carrara day trips from Florence and shore excursions from La Spezia often end with a wine tasting in Colli di Luni, where crisp Vermentino white wine is produced.
Things to Know Before You Go
- A visit to the quarries is a welcome change of pace for kids who may have had their fill of art and architecture.
- Carrara marble quarries tours are primarily by off-road vehicle or bus, but do require some walking. Wear comfortable shoes and sun protection.
- The view from the highest quarries and Colonnata stretch over Italy’s Apuan Alps to the Mediterranean Sea, so be sure to bring your camera.
- Tours can accommodate wheelchairs, but contact the quarry in advance to arrange special transportation.
How to Get There
The Carrara marble quarries sit on the Carrione River in the Massa-Carrara province of Tuscany. The nearest city is Carrara, but day trips usually depart from La Spezia or Florence. There is no public transportation to the quarries, so the most convenient way to visit is by joining a small-group tour or shore excursion.
When to Get There
The sunlight bouncing off the bright marble in the open-air quarries can be blinding, so you may be surprised to hear that the best time to explore is on a cloudy day!
The Carrara Marble Quarries in the Movies
The marble quarries in Carrara were the backdrop for James Bond’s chase scene in the film Quantum of Solace.