The Natural Regional Park of the Apuan Alps stretches from the area of Massa Carrara up to the Lucca province and includes a wide variety of natural landscapes, including the white marble quarries of Carrara. Between the Apennines and the sea, the Apuan Alps, impressive and remarkable for their morphology, create a vast natural frame of surrounding hills that embrace them. The Apuan Alps contain a variety of natural resources like marble, mineral water springs, streams, woods and numerous caves, including the Caves of Equi Terme and Antro del Corchia. Here you can also admire unique landscapes such as those of Monte Forato e Marmitte dei Giganti. Nature lovers will also enjoy during their visits a wide variety of flowers and plants .
Fortitudo mea in rota, literally My strenght is in the wheel represents the motto of the ancient City of Carrara, the most important world center for the extraction and processing of white marble, originating from the nearby Apuan Alps. Situated between Tuscany and Liguria, Carrara was born in the foothills of the Apuan Alps and has a wide opening to the seaside, making it an ideal location for summer holidays, with many opportunities for sports and entertainment. The City of Carrara also offers visitors the opportunity to enjoy artistic events and exhibitions related to the processing of marble like Carrara Marble Weeks, an annual event involving all the city antique squares and museums of the city, making visitors worldwide to experince and appreciate the culture of marble, the great heritage of Cararra. Artistic itineraries with installations in the city’s squares, exhibitions of sculpture and design, architecture meetings and cultural events, entertainment shows that allow residents and visitors to experience the City of Carrara and its marble.
Grotte of Equi Terme
The Cultural Park of the Equi Terme is one of three karst complexes open to the public in the Park of the Apuan Alps. The main attractions – in addition to the museum, Tecchia of Equi, the Solco and Archeoparco – are the Buca and the caves themselves. The karst complex was formed by water that penetrated into the cracks of limestone, formed in hundreds of thousands of years and produced wells, tunnels and underground lakes. While Buca is the fossil part of the cave, where the water no longer flows, the caves are instead the “alive” part and are full of stalactites and stalagmites, a very interestic and unique view for the visitors .
Antro di Corchia e Monte Forato
Inside Corchia mountain the visitors can admire Antro del Corchia, or Cave of Aeolus, with its 70 km depth is the second deepest cave in the world. Monte Forato has two peaks of similar height and size , the highest of which reaches 1,230 meters while the second reaches 1204 meters. The peculiarity of the mountain, from which it also its name derives, is the presence of a natural arch of considerable size between the two peaks. This peculiarity hasn’t remain unnoticed, so that the natural arch was also represented by the painter Andrea Markò in the work entitled “Monte Forato delle Alpi Apuane “, from 1871, now kept in the Palazzo Pitti in Florence .
Marmo di Carrara Quarries
The first step towards the marble basins leads the visitor to the small village of Colonnata, an ancient village in between Tuscany and Liguria, which according to history was born in Roman times to house the slaves extracting marble from the Apuan Alps. The quarries of Colonnata channel are the more imposing of the basins of the Apuan Alps, with their stunning views of the majestic sides of Mounts Serrone Maggiore and Spallone. On the top of the mountain is the Basin of Gioia, one of the largest quarries in this area used for the marble extraction. Colonnata is placed in between the area of the caves surrounding it and not only famous for its white marble quarries but also for good Italian food: the Lard of Colonnata.
Lard of Colonnata
The delicious Colonnata Lard is produced according to ancient traditions of this area, using only bowls made of Carrara marble and exclusively Italian IGP meats thicker than 3 cm. Once the marble bowls are filled, the lard is left to rest for at least six months with seasonings, garlic, herbs and sea salt. The bowls are mare using marble from the basin of “canaloni” in Colonnata, marble that has a very fine grain and particularly suitable to allowing the lard to mature in the best conditions.
The Fantiscritti quarries (450 meters) can be reached by following the stream of river Carrione up to the bridges of Vara that allowed, since the end of last century, the passage of the railway used to transport the marble. Today the railways have been turned into a road through the Galleria Vara. Fantiscritti owes its name to the discovery of a relic of Roman times, preserved today at the Academy of Carrara: small figures in bas-relief carved in a rock wall. The varieties of marble extracted from this basin are called Bianco Chiaro Battaglino and the Canal Grande, the White Statuary Bettogli and White Fantiscritti Marble.
Ravaccione and Campocecina Quarries
Ravaccione Quarries (444 meters) begin in the Piastra town (267 meters), which can be accessed following the Canal Torano until Canal Pescina. An exceptional panorama of Ravaccione quarries can be admired from the Belvedere in Campocecina (1200 meters ).