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Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Carrara

Marble QuarriesMarble Quarries View slideshow

Carrara lies in an enclosed valley on the western slopes of the Apuan Alps (nature reserve), near the northern Tuscan coast.

Although Carrara has traditions going back to pre-Roman times it is predominantly a modern town. In Via Roma is the Accadémia di Belle Arti (Academy of Fine Art), founded by Maria Teresa Cybo in 1769; visitors are admitted with the Director's permission.

Cathedral

In the north of Carrara is the Cathedral of Sant'Andrea (11th-14th century), with a fine Romanesque and Gothic facade, the lower part of which consists of half-columns and pointed arches; the center part of the doorway is richly decorated. Inside note the multicolored marble pulpit, the 14th century "Annunciation of Our Lady" and other marble sculptures. There are fine views from the bell-tower.

Marble Museum

Southwest of Carrara's center is the Museo Civico del Marmo (Municipal Marble Museum) with six departments, demonstrating the history of marble, from antiquity to its present-day artistic and technical uses.
Address: Viale XX Settembre, I-54033 Carrara, Italy

Academy of Fine Art

To the south, in Via Roma, the town's principal street, is the Accademia di Belle Arti, with pictures and marble sculptures. 500m/550yd west of the cathedral is the Church of the Madonna delle Grazie, with sumptuous marble decoration.
Address: Via Roma 1, I-54033 Carrara, Italy

Surroundings

Marble Quarries

Carrara is famous for the 400 marble quarries around the town which provide employment for most of its population. Every tourist should visit the marble quarries in the three valleys which meet at Carrara, the Colonnata, Fantiscritti and Ravaccione valleys. They can be reached on reasonably good roads. The quarries were already being worked in Roman times, but achieved their widest fame through Michelangelo, who greatly prized the marble of Carrara. Particularly impressive are the quarries at Piastre (4km/2.5mi east), which yield the fine marmo statuario. The marble is shipped from the nearby Mediterranean ports (Marina di Carrara, e.g.) to places all over the world. The stonemasons' workshops are of great interest.

Massa, Italy

Situation
Massa (not to be confused with Massa Maríttima) lies near the coast at the northern extremity of Tuscany. To the east extends the chain of the Apuan Alps (part of which is now a nature reserve), famous for their marble. On the coast is a separate part of the town, Marina di Massa, a popular seaside resort.
History
Massa first appears in the records in 882. During the Middle Ages it frequently changed hands, passing successively under the control of Lucca, Pisa, Milan and Florence. In the 15th century it was held by the Margraves Malaspina and later by the Cybo Malaspina family (1533-1790), who began a complete rebuilding of the town.

Piazza Aranci

The central feature of the old town of Massa is the Piazza Aranci. On the south side of the square stands the Palazzo Cybo Malaspina (now occupied by the Prefecture), a large and sumptuous mansion converted from an earlier villa by the margraves (by Giovanni Francesco Bergamini, 1665; façade by Alessandro Bergamini, 1701).

Cathedral

A short distance northeast of the Piazza Aranci in Massa, by way of Via Dante, we come to the cathedral, built at the behest of Giácomo Malaspina in the 15th century but altered in later centuries. The modern facade (1936) is faced with Carrara marble. The interior is notable for the sunken funerary chapel of the Cybo-Malaspina family.

Castello Malaspina

On the hill to the southeast of Massa is the Malaspina Castle (La Rocca), originally dating from the Middle Ages but enlarged in palatial style by the Malaspinas in the 15th and 16th centuries.
From the rocca there is a magnificent view over the town, extending to the sea.

Marina di Massa

Marina di Massa lies some 5km/3mi southwest of Massa. With its long beach of fine sand, it is a popular resort. Inland extends a shady pine wood, the Pineta.

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