towns of Massa and Carrara are just a few kilometres from
each other and are co-capitals of a province.
The recorded existence of Massa dates back to 882, and it was contested
over the years that followed by Lucca and Pisa, then was dominated by
the Milanese and the Florentines until control of it passed into the hands
of the Malaspina family, who ruled the city for three hundred years from
the 15th to the 18th century. It was then governed, together with Carrara,
by Maria Beatrice d'Austria Este until it became part of the Kingdom of
Italy in 1860.
From Massa, there are a number of interesting excursions to Monte
Cerchio and Pian della Fioba, from which you can get wonderful views.
Less than 5 kilometres away is Marina di Massa, which developed
as a bathing station amidst a pine wood; it has a splendid sandy beach
and is situated at the point where a mountain stream, the Frigia, flows
into the sea.
Carrara is situated in a basin amidst olives at the foot of the
Apuan Alps; it developed in an area that was already famous for its marble
in ancient times, and was first mentioned in 963
when Ottone I gave it to the bishops of the Roman colony of Luni
On the Apuan, are the old marble quarries which supplied marble for sculptors
such as Michelangelo, Donatello, Andrea del Sansovino, and in more recent
times Henry Moore.
Leaving the city in the direction of the sea, you come to Marina
di Carrara on the northernmost point of the Tuscan coast. It is a
beach resort with a wide sandy beach. There is also a mercantile
port here, constructed in the 19th century for the export of marble.
Picture by Sandro Santioli