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It’s the perfect time of year to visit Tuscany. Winter has not yet set in, the tourists have gone home and you can get into the famous galleries of Florence without queuing for hours. It’s also an opportunity to visit Carrara, which nestles in the green foothills of the Apuan Alps, two hours north of the region’s capital. The town’s mountain backdrop gleams white even in summer, not from snow but from precious marble.
Indeed the town’s name is synonymous with marble, reports the New York Times. It has been quarried there since Roman times when hand-cut marble would yield an inch a day. Nowadays 15,000 tons are extracted daily from the mountains. Its high quality made it the choice of great sculptors and it was used by Michelangelo for his famous statue, ‘David’.
Carrara is holding its Biennale Internazionale di Scultura di Carrara (2010.labiennaledicarrara.it) this month, finishing on Oct. 31. It's exhibiting many modern works of renowned artists and architects, including Maurizio Cattelan and Zaha Hadid.
The town’s Museo Civico del Marmo, Viale XX Settembre, Carrara, is also worth a visit but the awe-inspiring highpoint is the ascent to the mountains and guided quarry tour (marmotour.com). Visitors are taken deep inside the mountain to experience the caves’ sheer marble walls which soar a hundred feet high.
Back in town, visitors can wander around Carrara’s enchanting old centre, with its cobblestoned streets and marble Duomo (Cathedral).