The Apuan Alps
he marble mountains are a naturalistic jewel protected by a regional natural park, an ideal destination for nature-lovers.
This extraordinary alpine landscape on the sea encloses an incredible variety of flowers and rare plants.
The mountainsides, the numerous karst caves and deep caverns of the apuan Alps attract many speleology and mountain climbing enthusiasts. Within the park is it possible to go on walking or horseriding tours. Strabone named them “Moon-mountains”, but they are generally known as ” panie” from the name of some peaks whose outline was familiar to the sailors of the high Tyrrhene sea.
Anyway, for everyone who comes from the north along the Magra Valley or for everyone who follows the coast, The Apuan Alps stand out as an element of the landscape, which , once entered in the visual field , doesn’t leave it for over one hundred kilometres, and stand out not only as a background for each urban or sea view.
In the cultivated plain the centres of Carrara, Massa, Pietrasanta and Camaiore are situated parallely to the sea and have given life to their respective “marine”, well patronized seaside resorts.
The Apuan Alps, in the past considered as unscalable mountains, are nowadays a very interesting tourist area both on the Tyrrhenian side and on the inland of the Lunigiana and Garfagnana not only for the presence of the marble quarries and for the marble industry, but also for the various opportunities which they offer from the naturalistic, speleological and excursion point of view.Moreover the historical- artistic testimony of a really border zone is not to be neglected on horseback along the mountain passes which from the Padana Plain lead towards the centre of Italy.
Le Cave di Marmo – Marble Quarries
In the Apuan Alps the spectacular marble quarries offer an evocative sight. Here this precious white stone has been excavated since Roman times.
Since then, it has been used for all sorts of different purposes: from the simple objects to more famous works of art and architecture. In the past the blocks of marble were carried to the plain with an ancient manual technique called ” Lizzatura” which is recalled each year thanks to the courage and skill of the last living “Lizzatori”.
In the art laboratories of Carrara , at the Marble Museum and at open exhibitions, it is possible to see the history and the working of the marble.
Chain of mountain crests which stand out clear and impressive on the remaining Appennino, this landscape with its still here and there intact places, and its marble quarries on the slopes is two thousand years old at least.
The quarrying of the marble dates back to the 2Nd century B.C. and in the Roman time the work was carried out by slaves and convicts.
The excavation decreased during the High Middle Age and increased again after the year one thousand.
In the first half of the 16Th century Michelagelo came frequently in Carrara to choose the stone for his masterpieces.
Over the centuries the marble of Carrara has been recognized as a precious stone for buildings and for its white and colour varieties (bardiglio, paonazzo, fior di pesco, cipollino, arabescato,..).In order to visit the Apuan Alps , go from Carrara exit towards Campocecina, from where you could have a large view of the below quarries and follow the phases of the transport of the marble to the plain.
Before going back to Carrara, do not forget to stop in Colonnata, the country of the Lardo. Other interesting places are Fantiscritti, Pian Della Fioba and Isola Santa, all they situated in the area of Massa province