If I say Carrara probably one of the first images popping into your head, is an image of Michelangelo’s Donatello, or the white marble kitchen counter you dream about. Although we all know the final product, there are a few people who know where this precious rock comes from, and how it was extracted in antiquity and nowadays. With this helpful guide, you can learn how to visit Carrara marble quarries, the place where the magic happens.
Disclosure: anitabeyondthesea.com is reader-supported. When you make a reservation through links on my site, I may earn an affiliate commission, at no extra cost for you. That will help me keep the blog up and running. Thank you!
Table of Content
- Some history of Carrara marble
- The best Carrara marble quarries guided tours
- Things to know BEFORE going
- Visiting the marble quarries on your own
- Exploring the most beautiful abandoned marble quarries
- In conclusion is a Carrara marble tour worth it?
Some history of Carrara marble
Carrara marble quarries are known from antiquity for producing some of the finest white marble in the world. The quarries have been in operation for over 2,000 years since Roman times. At the time the marble was called marmor lunensis because of the neighboring city of Luni.
Through their centuries of history, they have supplied marble for some of the most impressive buildings and artworks in history. From the above-mentioned Michelangelo to Antonio Canova. And how not to mention the Pantheon or the grandiose San Peter’s Basilica which made large use of the “white gold”.
In modern times Carrara’s marble is still largely used, among the most famous projects the majestic Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi or the modern Oslo Opera House.
Today, even if the extraction activities continue, visitors can take guided tours to learn about the quarries’ rich history, discover ancient techniques, and marvel at the beauty of the white marble walls.
The best Carrara marble quarries guided tours
|Company name||Tripadvisor rating||Duration||Number of visitors||Transport||Lardo Tasting||Average Price|
|Cava Museo Fantiscritti||4,5 ⭐ / 140 📝||0.45||❌||🥾||❌||10€/per.|
|Marmo tour||4,5 ⭐ / 369 📝||1||8||🚌||🥓||50€/per.|
|Curioseety||4 ⭐ / 42 📝||2.20||15||🚙||🥓||66€/per.|
|Cave di Marmo Tours||5 ⭐ / 6 📝||2||8||🚙||🥓||70€/per.|
|Cave di Marmo Tours||5 ⭐ / 183 📝||2||private tour, 8 max||🚙||🥓||340€|
|Carrara Marble Quarry Private Tours||5 ⭐ / 3 📝||4||private tour||🚙||🥓||100€/per.|
Note: following Covid restrictions some tours that included Colonnata’s lard tasting, have now removed it from their tour. Remember to ask for confirmation for the tasting to be included, if that’s important for you.
P.S. Colonnata’s lard is absolutely delicious!
Cava Museo Fantiscritti
Walter Danesi Sr. has collected the tools of his life as a quarryman and put them on display for everyone to enjoy in this open-air museum. From sculptures to everyday objects, his routine but also historical objects to understand how the excavation was with the traditional techniques. The tour is very interesting and can be easily combined with a 4WD excursion or Marmo Tour bus ride to see the quarries from the inside.
Before going check out their schedule or contact them directly on Cave Di Marmo Fantiscritti Carrara.
Marmotour covers the history of Michelangelo’s favorite source of marble, il Ravaccione. After a short bus ride, you will enter the active marble quarry, a shiny white cathedral.
During the tour, you will also get to see the tribute to Michelangelo by artist Ozmo. It consists in a giant mural that reproduces Michelangelo’s fresco “The Creation of Adam” from the Sistine Chapel.
Cave di Marmo Tours
During the tour, you will get to see the different stages of marble extraction, from the cutting of the blocks to the transportation of the marble. The tour will also take you to some of the most breathtaking locations within the quarry, where you can enjoy beautiful viewpoints.
Cave di Marmo Tours has three different options for its tours. You can either embark on a 4WD with 15 or 8 places. Or book a private tour for your group, for 8 people max.
Carrara Marble Quarry Private Tours
Differently from the other tours, the Carrara Marble Quarry Private Tour lasts 4 hours and in addition to the exploration of an active marble quarry, you will get to explore Carrara historic center with your guide. Of course, the tour includes a stop at one of Colonnata’s restaurants to taste their excellent lard!
Things to know BEFORE going
The 4WD tours are an incredible experience, but it is NOT suitable for the faint of heart! The narrow roads that run among the quarries have incredible views, but if you suffer from vertigo you may be disturbed. In the same fashion, some breathtaking views from the panoramic points are on top of deep cliffs.
Especially when exploring the interiors of the marble quarries it may be chilly. If you are particularly sensitive to the temperatures bring a jacket or scarf to protect yourself.
Visiting the marble quarries on your own
Ride along some of the most panoramic (and narrow!) roads in Italy. Reaching the quarries’ sites is already an adventure itself! Once you arrive in Colonnata village, you can take one of the treks that from there climbs up and observe the mountains open heart from afar.
A special mention for the scenic Vara Bridges. By the end of the 19th century, to speed up the transportation process, the Ferrovia Marmifera, Marble Railroad, was created.
After the war the system became obsolete and trucks took the monopoly of transportation instead. But the bridges stayed and they are now part of the beautiful landscape of the valley.
If you want to see the active marble quarries from the inside, the only way is via a guided tour due to the particularity of the location. The drivers have a special license to drive inside the quarries.
Exploring the most beautiful abandoned marble quarries
On the other side, in case you are willing to see an abandoned marble quarry you may be interested in our self-guided tour inside the 5 most beautiful abandoned marble quarries in Tuscany.
Got the time to pick only one? Go for Henraux. Its white walls have become the canvas to the art collective Glitch, who created some incredible murals!
In conclusion is a Carrara marble tour worth it?
Yes! It’s an unforgettable experience that offers a glimpse into the history, art, and craftsmanship of Italy. The beauty of the marble, combined with the history of the quarries, makes this a must-see destination for anyone visiting the Tuscany region of Italy.
Are you planning a vacation to Italy soon? As a Tuscan native, I have many more day trips and helpful guides that will inspire you to visit il Bel Paese!
Have you liked this post? Sharing is caring!