A12 exit Carrara, follow signs to Carrara, then follow signs to Colonnata.
2 km behind the village Bedizzano, at the turnoff to Fantiscritti the quarry is to the right.
All year after appointment.
Adults EUR 6, Students EUR 4.
Groups (15+): Adults EUR 5.
Half Day Tour: First Two EUR 180, Additional Person EUR 35.
|Light:||Incandescent Electric Light System|
|Guided tours:||Marble Tour: D=40 min.|
|Address:||Cava 177, Guide: Marco Bernacca, Corso rosselli 7, Carrara (MS), Cell: +39-338-5783629. E-mail:|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
|4th to 3rd century BC||mountains inhabited by Ligurian-Apuan tribes.|
|180 BC||area becomes Roman.|
|177 BC||Luni founded and extraction of marble began.|
|1000||marble was rediscovered and used for covering slabs for floors, channels, mortars, churches and sacred works.|
The marble started as limestone which was deposited during the Jurassic, about 200 Ma ago. High pressure and high temperature over a long time caused the metamorphization of the limestone into marble. The orogeny of the Apuan Alps lifted it high above sea level.
The most well known marble on Earth is the marble from Carrara, it is of extraordinary quality and has a fine white structure with interesting patterning. The marble is mined around the town Carrara in the first chain of mountains along the Italian coast. The mountains are steep, and the quarries are located at the mountains sides, high up above the town. Because of this fact, many quarries cut deep into the mountainside forming deep, cathedral like caverns with walls which consist of fine marble.
The area was inhabited since around the 4th century by the Ligurian-Apuans. Not much is known about them as they left few remains, and only one single marble object, a small jewel, which was found in a tomb. They were followed by the Etruscans, and again they used very little marble. Since about the 2nd century the area was Roman, and the great use of the marble by them is famous and well known. In 180 BC they had full controll and in 177 BC they founded Luni, which became the center of marble exploitation. Famous building created from Lunense marble are for example Agrippa's Pantheum, the Pyramid of Cestius, the Portico of Octavia, the Temple of Apollo Palatin, the Forum, Trajan's Column, and the Arch of Constantine. At the end of the Roman empire there were 14 aqueducts, 150 fountains, 118 baths, and 100,000 statues made of Lunense marble.
With the end of the Roman Empire the use of marble ended and the quarries were closed. They were reopened after the barbarian invasions around 1,000, and marble was used for covering slabs for floors, but also for churches and sacred works. But its heyday was obviously during the Renaissance, when Michelangelo used to go to personally to the quarry to choose the marble. Numerous other artists, like Bernini or Canova used the rock. And it still used by modern artists, for example by Henry Moore, in architecture, and as tiles.
There are actually seven kinds or qualities of marble distinguished by the producers. The White Marble is pearly with greyish veins, that's what most people know as Carrara marble. Statuary Marble is the most valuable and rare, with ivory white color and fine crystalline texture. Veined and Guilloche are grey, Calcata is white with creamy yellow veins, Bardiglio has fine fine pyrite crystals in the texture of the rock. And finally there is Cipollino, named after the greenish-gray streaks which resemble onions.
There is a normal tourist tour, called Classical Tour or Marble Tour which takes 40 Minutes and is taking place in the afternoon. Quarry 177 is one of the quarries open for public inspection. It is still being worked, so visitors see the technology used today for cutting huge blocks intended for artists and masons all over the world. In the center of the quarry visitors can see when quarry workers use modern tools like marble cutting blades, diamond wire, bulldozers, and excavators for mining. But there are also many remains of the long history, both tools and machinery, and rocks which were cut since Roman times but never removed for various reasons. There are remains of Roman quarry technology, tagliate, the typical cuts of Roman age, and the base of a big column and two sections of another Roman column. The Middle Ages and Renaissance part of the quarry is where the rock for Michelangelos David, Mose, or the Pietà were mined.
In the morning there is a tour called Half Day Tour, which take up to 4 hours. It is intended for small groups, up to four taking a car or mor with a mini bus. After the visit to the quarry Cava 177 it continues with a visit to the quarry Colonnata. The tour includes three valleys with various interesting spots and extraordinary views. It also includes a quarrymen breakfast with lard, tomatoes, salt pork, cheese, bread and red wine. Highlight is the area where Michelangelo chose the marble for his masterpieces.