VISITING THE MARBLE QUARRIES
The first stage in a visit to the marble quarries of Carrara generally begins at Colonnata, an ancient fortified village at a height of 532 m above sea level, which according to tradition was founded by the Romans to house the slaves they employed in the quarries. The quarries in the Colonnata gully are the most impressive of the Carrara marble fields, and offer superb views of the ravaneti, the spectacular mountains of white marble waste which lie in great drifts on the flanks of the mountains of Serrone Maggiore and Spallone, at the top of which is the Gioia marble field: a complex of quarries which offers a panorama unique in the world.
Next stop is Fantiscritti, the central field with its vast quarries and spectacular views over the town of Carrara and the quarries themselves. A small museum at this spot contains an exhibition of quarrying methods from the remotest times to the present day, with the implements used for excavating and cutting the marble from the mother rock, sawing the blocks into slabs and transporting them on wooden skids.
The third field is Torano, whose huge quarries can be visited by car or – preferably – four wheel drive. The quarries can only be visited externally; access to the quarries themselves is restricted to authorized personnel.