Darby Day Trip: Carrara

By Andrea CullettoJanuary 18, 2024

Darby Day Trip: Carrara
Located less than an hour’s drive from Camp Darby, Carrara is renowned for its marble quarries and rich artistic heritage. (Photo Credit: Andrea Culletto) VIEW ORIGINAL

Located less than an hour’s drive from Camp Darby, Carrara is renowned for its marble quarries and rich artistic heritage. In fact, Michaelangelo’s famed statue, The David, was carved from Carrara marble. Although not as well-known as other Italian Cities like Florence or Lucca, a visit to Carrara is a truly unique experience. Here are a few highlights that shouldn’t be missed.

1. Visit the Marble Quarries

Even driving by, you’ll notice the mountains surrounding Carrara seem to be covered with snow – even in the summer. But this white coat is actually an ever-present layer of marble dust! Seeing this unusual landscape up close is a delightful experience, as is exploring the mines themselves. There are guided quarry tours that teach visitors about the extraction process and allow then to experience this unique industry first-hand. Plus, views from the quarries are breathtaking, offering panoramic vistas of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

2. Explore Carrara's Historic Center

Carrara's historic center is a charming area filled with narrow streets, picturesque squares, and beautiful architecture. Take a stroll along its marble sidewalks to discover the town’s beautiful sculptures and impressive architecture.

Keep an eye out for “Fake Plaques,” an art project by Francesco Fossati that placed fictitious historical plaques around town. While not historically true, these installations are thought-provoking and imaginative. For example, one says, “In the basement of this house, Oscar Wilde fell in love but ran away.”

Be sure to visit the Duomo di Carrara, a stunning cathedral dating back to the 11th century, which houses remarkable artworks and intricate sculptures. The Palazzo Cybo Malaspina is another architectural gem worth exploring. Once home to the Lords of Carrara, the Cybo Malaspina family, this beautiful complex includes both a medieval castle and a Renaissance residence.

3. Discover Carrara's Artistic Heritage

A city with a strong artistic tradition, Carrara boasts several museums and galleries that showcase its rich heritage. The Civic Museum of Marble provides insight into the history of marble extraction and its significance in the region. Another notable museum is the Academy of Fine Arts, which displays works by local artists and offers art classes and workshops for those interested in honing their artistic skills.

4. Attend White Carrara

If you happen to visit during White Carrara, you're in for a treat. This annual event celebrates the city's marble heritage through various exhibitions, workshops, and cultural activities. During this time, you can witness live sculpting demonstrations and attend art exhibitions showcasing marble sculptures by contemporary artists. This event provides a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the world of marble artistry and appreciate its significance in Carrara's history.

5. Enjoy Outdoor Activities

Carrara's natural surroundings offer ample opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. The Apuan Alps, which overlook the city, provide a stunning location for hiking and trekking adventures. There are numerous trails that cater to different skill levels, allowing visitors to explore this area’s rugged beauty.

6. Indulge in Local Cuisine

No visit to Carrara is complete without savoring its delectable cuisine. The city boasts a variety of restaurants and trattorias that serve traditional Tuscan dishes with a focus on fresh local ingredients. Try regional specialties such as "testaroli," a unique egg-free pasta served with pesto or other sauces, or "lardo di Colonnata," a cured pork fat delicacy that is unique to the area and has sustained generations of quarry workers.

Carrara offers a unique blend of natural beauty, artistic heritage, and cultural experiences. From exploring the dusty white marble quarries to immersing yourself in local art and cuisine, there is no shortage of fun things to do in this captivating Italian city.