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Apuan Alps Foray

  • Apuan Alps Foray

    This drive explores Massa, Carrara and the elemental Apuan Alps, putting the marble mountains in their true context. North of chic Forte dei Marmi the landscape is very different. You could leave the coast at Marina di Massa, a popular resort, with fine wide sandy beaches, pine groves and a promenade of pastel-shaded villas. Tuscany’s northern corner is one of its wildest, strangest and least explored areas from the Versilia coast to a dramatic landscape of pine-covered mountains, craggy ravines, remote castellated villages and marble peaks. The coastal lowlands swiftly give way to snow-capped mountains, terraced hillsides, deep gorges and mountain streams, populated by deer, wild boar, mouflons, badgers, stone martens and wolves, not to mention the flocks of walkers, rock climbers, cavers and canoeists. It’s hard to get more than a glimpse of this wilderness on a day trip but it’s still worthwhile as it’s such a contrast to the coast.

    Massa is only 12km north of Forte dei Marmi, with Carrara just 3 km further. Both are working towns, not monuments to marble. Even so, Marina di Carrara’s still ships marble all over the world. Massa and Carrara have prospered from the thriving marble trade, although the resulting industrial development has blighted swathes of the surrounding area. Although mainly modern, Massa has a well-preserved medieval centre, built by the dukes of Malaspina who ruled Massa for three centuries. The core is the Piazza degli Aranci, edged with orange trees and, beyond a cluster of narrow winding streets, stands the medieval Duomo, which boasts a baroque interior and, of course, a modern marble façade. Massa is dominated by the magnificent Renaissance Castello Malaspina. Instead, Carrara is more overtly carved out of marble. Its not a compelling town and is home to a marble museum, the Museo del Marmo, which recounts the story of marble from Roman times to today. Displays include varieties of -marble and granite, plus geographical and historical background from the great leap from hammer-and-chisel quarrying to a high-tech industry. Otherwise, the main evidence of the famous marble quarries in Carrara is the river of white mud that flows through the town, which has a dusty, disaffected air about it.

    Address: Museo del Marmo, Viale XX Settembre 85, Localita Stadio, Carrara
    Tel: +39 0585 845746

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