When staying in Levanto for more than one or two days and wanting to relax away from the hustle and bustle of Cinque Terre, we recommend the Carrara marble quarries tours!
The quarries are at not even one hour driving from Levanto or 40 to 50 minutes by train, and tours are available twice a day every day. Easy and cool ;)
Visiting the Carrara marble quarries
Wanting to experience something different we went to visit the quarries last weekend and we really loved it! After lunch, we left the hotel and met our tour guide Gabriele and his wife Heike at the highway exit in Carrara, where we left our car to start the visit on a great dark green Defender.
Gabriele told us that white marble has been used since ancient Rome and that these 188 quarries produced more marble than any other place on earth. So the world of marble here is not just the excavation or processing of a stone, but the history of a territory and its population, synonyms of marble itself for ages.
Driving uphill along the shiny white truck trail is impressive, not to mention the stunning view of the Tuscan coastline and the island in front of it! Plus, during the tour, you even get to stand where James Bond stood while shooting Quantum of Solace ;)
Visiting these quarries, you get to know how the open-air excavation works. How actually very simple technic they still use and how terribly hard and dangerous it is to move the white marble blocks from the Apuan Alps to the sea. However, I got to think that this small, rich world is still something extraordinary and unique and by no doubt worth a visit!
Lardo di Colonnata
Before getting back to our own car, we made a yummy pitstop in Colonnata, a lovely village in this marble valley. Here they traditionally produce the delicious Lardo di Colonnata. It’s a type of cold meat made by curing strips of fatback with rosemary and other herbs and spices.
Lardo has been made in this tiny hamlet since Roman times, and the recipe is always the same: strips of fatback with rosemary and other herbs and spices and sea salt have to be cured for six months in basins made of local white marble.
Lardo di Colonnata is now included in the Ark of Taste catalog of heritage foods and enjoying IGP (Protected Geographical Indication) status since 2004. Once you taste it’s almost impossible to leave this place without buying some…
Cave di Marmo Tours
So, to sum it up: we visited the quarries with Cave di Marmo Tours, excellently run by Heike and Gabriele. They arrange tours twice a day every day, at 9:00 a.m. or 2:00 p.m., and they can meet you both at the train station or the highway exit. The tour lasts three hours and costs 40€ per person and 20€ for kids till 12 years old.
We highly recommend this visit, and we also recommend you wear sunglasses as the marble it’s really oh so white!
P.S. don’t forget your camera ;)