Frome Marble to Sand - A Special Summer in Tuscany

Fri, 03/20/2015 - 03:33

In this area of Tuscany, wide stretches of fine sand slip gently into the sea protected by natural marble cathedrals: the Apuan mountains.

One of the most original mountain chains in Italy, for centuries the Apuan mountains have been used to extract the finest Italian marble from the local quarries, the same marble that turned into amazing works of art under Michelangelo’s hammer and chisel.

But this part of Tuscany is not only a great mountain location to visit, but also renown for its seaside locations and beaches. A wonderful blue sea, the breathtaking Apuan peaks on the back and wild pine-groves are the natural elements that make this stretch of coast line so special, with the elegant towns of Massa and Carrara, situated at the foot of the marble mountains.

Here you can plan your days mixing swimming and sunbathing with excursions around the hills or mountains, observing a magnificent view while tasting fish soup or the much-appreciated local ‘lardo di Colonnata’, washed down with a glass of Candia or Vermentino.

The Riviera

A sandy riviera, 20 km long, offers tourists well equipped beaches with sailing and diving centres. The main sea-side resorts in the area are located in Marina di Carrara and Marina di Massa, Ronchi, Poveromo and Cinquale di Montignoso.

In Marina di Carrara, you can find one of the most famous Italian sailing clubs, a forge of champions, such as Luca Santella, the Chieffi brothers and Paolo Bottari, who have excelled in regattas around the world. Known around the world for its marble quarry, Carrara is the capital of marble and the centre of the marble industrial sector. So it is not surprising that Carrara’s urban fittings in Piazza Menconi, crowned by a magnificent fountain, are completely paved with marble.

Marina di Massa is famous for the beauty of its many Liberty style (Art Nouveau) villas. Among these, the most significant are Villa Corsi, Villa Doria and Villa Franca. Do not miss the unique view from the Pier of Marina di Massa, with the mountains covered in snow during winter or showing all the beauty of the marble in the summer. From the city centre, you can take a stroll to the Malaspina Castle , which is just a short distance away.

The city offers a vast choice of accommodation and sport facilities, besides the well equipped beaches with private changing cabins, parasols and restaurants.

Apuane Alps National Park

The Apuan Alps are unique due their geo-morphological and naturalistic features: the mountain range is roughly 60 km long and runs along the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea including Versilia, Lunigiana and Garfagnana.

As we mentioned earlier, the area is famous for the beauty of its marble and deep chasms, large cavities in the karstic subsurface and different types of rocks that create the perfect environment for a rich flora and fauna.

While in the area you also have the chance to visit the old village of Casola in Lunigiana and the Museum of the Territory of the Alta Valle Aulella, Equi Terme (Fivizzano) with its caves and hot springs, the Canyon of the Solco d’Equi and the town of Colonnata di Carrara, the marble quarry area and the museum-quarry of Fantiscritti.

Food and Wine

Among the traditional products of the area, we find the Lardo di Colonnata, lard spiced with aromatic herbs from the Apuan Alps, aged and preserved in marble containers, special home-made bread baked in wood-burning ovens, wild herbs used to prepare polenta incatenata, made with corn meal, wild herbs and black-eyed beans. Taglierini with beans is one of the main pasta dishes, then you can taste also stringoni (tagliatelle), topeti (gnocchi) and the wonderful tordelli.