The Carrara Marble Route near Carrara (northern Tuscany) passes through the marble mountains, tunnels, a local village built for marble diggers, and archaeological sites. Along the marble route, one can see marble quarries and drive on the winding roads that lead to them. Those marble quarries were made even more famous by the film “007 Quantum of Solace“, starring Daniel Craig and directed by Marc Forster. Some of the film’s most memorable scenes were shot there, including a car chase in the famous James Bond Aston Martin.
Marble tours are quite popular, for example, the one Carrara Marble Quarries day tour. We have seen several tour groups on the way while we drove around the route.
Since we came up with the idea to visit the area unplanned during our 9-day Liguria and Tuscany summer trip, it was impossible to book a tour on-site. Therefore, we made a self-driving through the following Carrara marble route.
- The viewpoint of marble mountains
- Panorama viewpoint La Piana
- Remains of Roman Quarry
- Colonnata, a village built for the marble diggers
- Vara Bridges and tunnels
- An open-air exhibition of tools and machines
The viewpoint of marble mountains
We started our driving route from Carrara Old Town and then took the Via Codena. The road leads to the Colonnata Valley. After about 2500 metres, we entered into the small community, Codena. Once we exited the village, we had a gorgeous view of the marble mountains.
Panorama viewpoint La Piana
Driving further towards the village of Colonnata, we passed through Bedizzano. After about 1km of driving from there, it is a panorama viewpoint called La Piana.
Not far from there is a marble souvenir store that offers many pretty marble products, such as chopping boards and chess boards. I couldn’t resist the beautiful marble goods and bought a blue marble bracelet for 8 Euro. Well, the owner confirmed to me that the blue colour was natural.
Remains of Roman Quarry
Keep driving the same route for another 1500 metres, we found a big marble block that shows the direction to an archaeological site. According to the documented information, marble extraction activity took place probably even before Roman times. Since the 5th century B.C., people had already used marbles to build monuments, buildings, and artworks.
The site shows how Roman used simple tools to dig marbles. Romans used the so-called “Marchi di cava” (quarry marks) to document the extraction activities, such as the ownership of the marble block, the origin of the quarry being extracted, and the foreman in charge of the extraction activity. We could still see such descriptions on several semi-finished marble blocks.
We had to go back to the main road where the souvenir shop is. Continued following the road sign to Colonnata, in about 10 minutes we reached the small village.
Colonnata, a village built for the marble diggers
Colonnata is a hamlet of Carrara and was a perfect stopover for our Carrara marble route. It was probably the oldest settlement in the area during the Roman time.
The village has well-kept marble features, such as marble murals, doorways, doorjambs, windows, and other architectural features. The place is also known for the Colonnata lard, a type of cured pork fat. One can buy the product in the local shops.
Vara Bridges and tunnels
From Colonnata, we descended along the same route to the first road crossing, then turned right towards the place called Tarnone. Afterward, we took the tunnel, which was once used for the marble railroad. The tunnels are all one-way and reminded us of the 007 movie scenes.
On the way, we caught views over the villages of Bedizzano and Codena. After about 1km of further driving, we came across the Vara Bridge outside the former railway. There we could take more photos of the marble mountains.
Open air exhibition of tools and machines
From Vara Bridge, we turned right and drive uphill to Fantiscritti. The whole area has a big parking lot, toilets, and an open-air exhibition. In the open-air exhibition, there were machines and tools used for over the 2000 years of excavation and transportation of marble.
To get back to Carrara, we needed to drive back to the Vara Bridge. At Vara Bridge, we passed through another illuminated tunnel. After the tunnel, followed the Carrara sign, we were back to the Carrara historical town centre after 2 km of driving.
Travel tips of the Carrara’s Marble Route
Join a tour instead of self-driving
Our experience showed that it was quite stressful to follow the Carrara marble route without a guide. First of all, some places along the marble route were unpaved, which were only suitable for off-road cars. Then, some areas had no proper signs posted. Lastly, we were unable to get into any quarries. They seemed only open to the organized tours.
Check out this Carrara Marble Quarries Day Tour if you want to have an inside of the marble culture and industry. It may provide the chances to visit a working quarry.
Where to stay in Carrara town
The Carrara town is also an inviting place to explore. It is unique and has always been considered the city of marble. If you stay in Carrara, you could easily make a trip to Cinque Terra or Portovenere. Here are some of the best and reasonable hotels.