Travel To The Marble Quarries of Carrara, Italy

Guest Post By: Margie Miklas

If you are going to Tuscany but looking for some place “off the beaten path” Carrara is the place to go.
There is no place like it and you will be amazed how the sheer immensity of this natural marble basin.
An easy day trip from Florence, Carrara is located approximately 60 miles northwest of Florence and
easily accessible by train or car.Quarries Carrara, Itlay

Famous for the gleaming white marble mountains that can be seen from outer space, Carrara is not
nearly as touristy as Florence or Siena. Carrara’s marble quarries are present day working quarries and
these same quarries produced the white marble that Michelangelo used to sculpt his famous statue of

The Quarries of Carrara, ItalyAs I learned on my tour of the quarries, there are three separate basins encompassing 23 km of marble.
They include Colonnata, Fantiscritti and Torano. I visited the Fantiscritti basin and the white-knuckle
ride in a 4X4 up the mountain was definitely an adventure, but so worth it. The views from the top were
spectacular, and this was the same location where the opening chase scene in the 2008 James Bond
film, Quantum of Solace, was filmed.

Once at the top of the mountain, I was required to wear a hard hat and learned quite about the exterior
quarrying techniques. The entire process is very labor-intensive, and to validate the level of danger
involved in quarry work, there is a field emergency medical facility right at the quarry. A small marble
museum and gift shop are also located at the Fantiscritti quarry entrance.

Marmo Tour Carrara, ItalyThe tour guides are very knowledgeable about the process and the history of the quarry, and the tour
involved inspection of the tools used to do the actual work today, as well the old tools of years gone
by. A few visitors from various countries were also touring the quarries and the guides were fluent in
English, Italian, German and several other languages.

Carrara Marble Tours, Carrara, ItalyAfter this part of the tour was completed, another tour company offered tours inside the quarry, where
you can see a different perspective of marble quarrying. On this shorter tour, lasting approximately 30
minutes, you ride in a jeep close to half a mile inside the quarry and learn how the interior quarrying is
accomplished. The entire process is amazing and you see another part of Tuscany that not many tourists
ever appreciate.

Men especially like this tour after spending hours in art museums and shopping for leather in Florence.
Carrara offers a different side of Italy, a little more adventurous perhaps, and one that will not be soon

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Montepulciano, Hill Town in Tuscany, Italy

Guest Post By: Margie Miklas

Piazza Grande, Montepulciano, ItalyTuscany has so many towns and they are all on hills, but Montepulciano is the highest of them all at close
to 2000 feet elevation. Although this walled medieval town in southern Tuscany is not that easy to reach
without a car, it is well worth going for a day trip from Florence.

Arriving at Montepulciano

Although there is a train station in the town, it is far from the center of Montepulciano, and buses do not
stop there very often. Based on the advice of Rick Steves as well as my personal experience, the train
station at Chiusi is the better option. From there, you can take a bus to Montepulciano and the buses run
every hour or so. The best option however is to have a car.

Cantina Contucci Montepulciano, ItalyWine in Montepulciano

Aside from its Renaissance architecture and medieval charm, Montepulciano is known for its wine,
namely Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Rosso di Montepulciano. There are cantinas throughout the
town and one in particular welcomes travelers in a special way. Cantina Contucci is one of the oldest
wineries in Montepulciano, located inside Palazzo Contucci, where the Contucci family has lived since
the 11th century. On most days you can find the wonderfully friendly Adamo Pallechi inside the wine
cellar, where he has been making wine for over 50 years. He is more than happy to have you taste the
Contucci wines and even pose for a photo with you.

Palazzo Communale, Montepulciano, ItalyPiazza Grande

Piazza Grande is the real heart of Montepulciano, surrounded by buildings dating back to the 15th century.
Palazzo Communale was actually built in the 13th century and later remodeled in the 15th century. This
serves as the current town hall and was also the backdrop for the scene in the Twilight series New Moon
where Edward was standing and Bella ran into his arms. Piazza Grande was also the filming location for a
scene in Under the Tuscan Sun, when Diane Lane watched a flag throwing contest.

Inside Palazzo Communale is the entrance to the clock tower, which you can climb for the nominal fee
of one euro, the short climb of 26 rickety steps will reward you with beautiful views of the surrounding
countryside, as well as a different perspective of Piazza Grande.

Duomo Montepulciano,ItalyAlso located in this piazza is the Duomo or Cathedral of Montepulciano. Built between 1594 and 1680,
it was built on the site of the ancient Church of Santa Maria. Although the exterior facade was never
completed, the interior more than makes up for it, and is worthy of a visit.

Caffè Poliziano

When your feet are tired of negotiating all the hills and you are looking for something to eat or just a
coffee, try one of the oldest restaurants in Montepulciano. Open since 1868, this elegant restaurant has a
balcony with some of the best views of the Tuscan panorama. Good food, good coffee, great views and
Italian culture at its best is my description for Caffè Poliziano.

Montepulciano is one of those Tuscan hill towns that are amazing to wander through, as every corner
provides another photo opportunity and surprise. The smaller towns in Tuscany are some of my favorite
destinations and Montepulciano is at the top of the list.

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