Massa and Carrara, twin cities of marble, art and nature

Massa is situated in the natural valley of the Frigido stream near the Apuan Alps and only 5 km from the sea. It was founded in 882 and became a medieval urban center in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Nowadays it is the administrative centre of the province Massa-Carrara.
The Apuan Ethnological Museum in Massa is located next to the Sanctuary of the Madonna degli Uliveti di Massa and has 36 exhibition sections that represent daily life from past times.

Massa, Malaspina Castle
Outside the centre of Massa the well-preserved Malaspina Castle illustrates the development of military architecture. This primitive fortress dates back to the 10th-11th century and it was enlarged during the 15th century. From the top of its walls, one can view the city, the Apuan Alps and the sea. Besides its high touristic value, together with the twin town of Carrara, Massa is known for the extraction and production of marble.

Carrara, Piazza Gramsci
Carrara can be considered the world capital of marble and the headquarters of the Apuan-Versilia marble industry. The town’s origins are tied to the local marble, known since Roman times. Carrara’s marble trade has been at the center of the industry since the times of the Renaissance. Carrara boasts numerous marble workshops all over the area. You can attend exhibitions by well-known and emerging artists, as well as year-round events connected to the marble processing.

Carrara, Duomo
In the city centre of Carrara you can admire the Gothic-Romanesque Marble Duomo, built between the 11th and 14th century. The cathedral houses many 14th and 15th frescoes and sculptures. Palazzo Alberico Cybo Malaspina, located in the historic centre, is the home of the Fine Arts Academy, which hosts ancient, medieval and modern sculptures. Today it is famous for the Sculpture School.

The city also houses the Civic Marble Museum. The museum exhibits archeological artifacts recovered from caves, tools for the extraction and carving of marble from the time of Ancient Rome to today, and works of art by sculptors like Viani and Signori. 
Carrara, Ponte di Vara
The museum was created in 1982 and provides a home for the historic memory of the city of Carrara, documenting and conserving the city's marble culture. It gives also children a great first glimpse into marble production and its artistic, archeological, historical and scientific use. There is a multimedia room with touch screen technology.

Carrara, marble quarries
From Carrara, after crossing the bridge Ponte di Vara, you can go and see the wonderful marble quarries and visit the caves up close. 
On your way up to the quarries you can visit the small town of Colonnata. For hundreds of years this ancient village was the home of stone-cutters and miners who worked to extract marble.
Colonnata lard
Now it is better known for its lardo, a true delicacy of cured pork fat. 
Two other historic marble production centers near Carrara are Miseglia (better known as Fantiscritti) and Torano.

The northeast of Massa and Carrara is a mountainous area which is part of the Apuan Alps, with mountains reaching heights of nearly 2.000m. The Apuan Alps are unique due to their geo-morphological and naturalistic features. This 60 km long mountain range runs along the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea in the territories of Lunigiana, Garfagnana and Versilia. The Apuan Alps Park is wild and uncontaminated and its mountains hide underground tunnels and deep wells. In fact, there are 1300 caves such as the Antro del Corchia, the deepest abyss in Italy, or the caves of Equi Terme, an old spa village in the Apuan Alps, where you can enter one of the three cavities: la Buca, le Grotte or la Tecchia.

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