Not Just a Pile of Rocks (in Carrara)

When I found out, on the last day of my Play Your Tuscany trip, that I’d be visiting a marble quarry, I was less than excited and a little confused. How interesting could it possibly be? I figured there must be something to it though, if its considered one of the highlights of the region, so I boarded the off-roading vehicle with an open mind.

As we headed up the highway, I questioned whether taking this 4-wheel drive jeep was about as necessary as a suburban mom picking up her kid in a Hummer but soon we hit what felt like a 90 degree angle unpaved road up and before I knew it, we were climbing high into the hills, side by side with massive tractors.

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Seeing the quarries for the first time, I could hardly believe it. For some reason, I’d pictured rough marble to be something akin to diamonds, barely resembling the finished product. Instead, marble in the raw is exactly like in its finished state leaving the mountains to resemble the expensive counter tops and floors I’d always associated with the material. Even cooler, the mountains are carved into what look like towering steps as the marble is harvested in gigantic blocks making the scene even that much more surreal.

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At that point, I was already sold. Marble is rad, end of story. But then it got even cooler. We followed a dark tunnel inside one of the mountains being mined into a massive cavern and were permitted (I’m told this is unusual) to watch the quarry workers in action. Trucks moved and dumped large hunks of rock from one end of the quiet dark cave to the other causing a thunderous boom while we waded through a fine damp mud that coated our shoes and pant legs.

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As we left, our guide suggested we take some marble scraps home (¨you can have as much as you can carry¨) and we sorted through rock piles to find the most interesting pieces. Upon returning to the hotel (which I recommend, should you be in Carrara) though, I played through my head the scene that would take place when I’d have to explain to Ryan Air why I was carrying a large, sharp rock in my carryon and decided to leave it behind.

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For more on my last day with Play Your Tuscany, check out my story about how I finally learned to make pasta and see plenty more photos from my Tuscan adventure here.

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2 thoughts on “Not Just a Pile of Rocks (in Carrara)

  1. What an interesting experience that must have been. Amazing how the marble can be turned into beautiful art, as well as countertops :-) When I think of Carrara marble I think of Michelangelo’s David. Sorry you left your piece of stone behind. I probably would have done the same. No sense arguing with Ryan Air about possible weapons or baggage weight allowances ;-)

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