Carrara, in northern Tuscany, is built along a river below the famous marble quarries that have been in use since Roman times and where famous Renaissance sculptors such as Michelangelo sourced their marble. Carrara is not only known as the city of marble but also as the birthplace of anarchism in Italy (in late 19th century) and it still remains a center of anarchism today.
Carrara Top Sights
Strolling around Carrara’s historic center you’ll see plenty of marble used in buildings and statues. Be sure to stop in at Pizzeria Tognozzi, Via Santa Maria 12, to try gnam gnam, farinata (chickpea pancake) served in a focaccia. Thanks to our friends Martha and Mike of A Path to Lunch for introducing us to this delicious snack and the sights of Carrara.
Duomo di Sant’Andrea, Carrara’s cathedral, has been in existence since at least 1035 although little of the original remains. The cathedral, the first church to be made completely of marble, has been enlarged and remodeled several times and has Romanesque and Gothic features. Its white marble pulpit dates from the 16th century. In a side room is a charming presepe, nativity scene, made of marble that depicts Carrara and how it would have been if Jesus had been born there.
The 16th century Ducal Palace is now home to the Fine Arts Academy. Castello Malaspiniano, part of the building, is from the 13th century,
The large Piazza Alberica is ringed with colorful buildings, shops and bars and is a good place to sit outside (usually no extra charge for table service) to enjoy a look at local life. In Piazza d’Armi, there’s an interesting fountain made of a rotating marble ball. Piazza delle Erbe has a huge mural dedicated to Francesca Rolla, WWII Resistance heroine.
The Museum of Marble, in the lower part of town, covers Carrara and its marble from antiquity to modern times and includes sculptures and a huge display of different kinds of marble.
To see the marble quarries, drive up the hill above Carrara following signs for cave. There’s a small museum from where guided tours leave. See Carrara Marble Quarries Map for a closer look.
Plan Your Visit to Carrara
Carrara is in the northwestern part of Tuscany, an area less visited by tourists than other parts of Tuscany. See Tuscany map for Carrara’s location. There’s a train station a few kilometers from the town center and is served by buses from other towns in Tuscany.
Where to Stay:
Duomosette bed and breakfast is right by the cathedral, in Piazza Duomo.
B&B La Bottega d’Arte, in a historic building, is centrally located on Via Cavour, where there’s street parking.
Villa Belverde is a boutique hotel in a historic villa set in a park, about a 5 minute drive from the city center.
Places to Go Near Carrara
Although you may see some sculptors’ studios in Carrara, the charming town of Pietrasanta is known for its marble sculptors and artist studios and has a sculpture museum.
Sarzana, 20 kilometers northwest, is another charming town to visit. Known for its antique shops, there’s a castle right in the historic center and several good restaurants.
Along the coast are a series of beach towns including Marina di Carrara, the upscale Forti dei Marmi, and the art deco town of Viareggio.
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