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Towns of the area

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Carrara

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Inhabitants in 1991: 67.197

The municipal territory of Carrara extends for 71,27 square kilometres in an area essentially mountainous, on the coastal slopes of the Apuane Alpi. Erected as a confederation of free municipalities, in 1938 it merged with the municipalities of Massa and Montignoso in the new municipality of Apuania, the 1 March 1946 it was reconstituted as autonomous municipality.

Since antiquity the place where Carrara arose was celebrated for the production of marble and its name is said to have origins from Liguria-Apuana roots which signify “pietra” (stone). With the beginning of the marble excavations, dated from at least the first century A.D. certain powerful families of the nearby Luni, together with others of Roman patricianship founded various villages, the first nucleus of the future city. The fall of the Roman Empire and the first centuries of the Medieval provoked an abandonment of the quarries and thus a profound transformation for the little society which had settled there, who took on an essentially agricultural character. The first documented mention of the capital is from 963 when Emperor Ottone I conceded to the Bishop of Luni the “curtis de Carraria”, or rather the whole, constituted by the little centres of Torrecchia, Quarto, Lutignano, Vezzala, Torano Potrignano, Bergiola and others. In the following three centuries, while the work in the quarries was resumed, there was a progressive affirmation of the municipal foundations, whose development the Bishop of Luni tried in vain to stop.

In 1235 the first statute of the municipality was drawn up; in 1261 the curia, in an extreme attempt to get back the obedience of its subjects, hit out with the excommunication of the men of Carrara without however obtaining any concrete result. In 1313 Arrigo VII assigned Carrara, which was still a small centre, to the republic of Pisa. And like this a new period started for them, characterised by political instability, in consequence to the appetite provoked by the richness of the place and by its intermediate geographic position: after the dominion of Pisa, which even though brief contributed in a definitive manner to the growth of the extraction activity, it was the turn of the Lordship of Castruccio Castracani (1322), then Spinola from Genova (1329), Rossi di Parma (1330), Scaligeri (1335), Visconti di Milano (1343), Spinetta Malaspina. This last competed, with success, for some years with the Milano Lords, before they regained possession and governed it until 1404 when it was acquired for 15,000 florins by Paolo Giunigi Lord of Lucca. After all the other events in 1442 it finally returned to the Malaspina and the history of Carrara became from then commune with that of Massa, being the sole territory of the dominating family of Marquis. In modern times, the Malaspina dynasty being extinct, the territory passed to the Cybo-Malaspina until 1741 when it was united to the Duchy of Modena. Assigned in 1790 to Maria Beatrice d’Austria-Este, Carrara remained – with an interval with the Cisalpina republic and with Elisa Baciocchi (1798-1815) – with the Estensi until 1859. After the annexation to the Realm of Italy Carrara’s history was rich with episodes of social struggle. Already the Italian Risorgimento patriotism had assumed classist colours; among the quarry workers there were formed strong and aggressive groups of republicans, socialists and above all anarchists and in 1889 the municipal administration was conquered by a socialist-democratic blockade. In 1894 the popular motions raised by the marble workers brought out the request for salary increases, but also laid claim to the property of the quarries for the workers. In 1902, the quarrymen of Carrara extracted the best work contract at the time in Italy. In this ambience the advent of Fascism was an occasion for painful clashes often bloody. So, as it had been the centre of clandestine opposition during the twenty years of the Liberation struggle Carrara fought fiercely paying a high price in blood: the last episode of a long series was the insurrection which forced the Germans to abandon the city (8-16 April 1945). Among the illustrious of Carrera is remembered the sculpture Pietro Tacca (1577-1640), the risorgimental politician Pellegrino Rossi (1787-1848), the geographic historian Emanuele Repetti (1776-1852).

Places to visit:
Piazza Alberica, opened in 1500s by Alberico I, it is the most beautiful space in the city; it is surrounded by nobles’ palaces from the 16-1700s and has a precious pavement inlaid with marble.
Accademia delle Belle Arti, hosted in the vast construction by Alberico ! encompassing a preceding Medieval castle. Over the centuries it has undergone diverse modifications and enlargements. Important is the collection of plaster casts comprising numerous original models.
Via S. Maria, the most characteristic road of the Medieval nucleus. It is flanked by antique houses in one of which lived il Petrarca in the 1300s then Emanuele Repetti.
Civic Museum of Marble, where there are many Apuane marbles, together with the principal aspects of the excavations and of the transport.
Il Duomo, started in XI century and finished in the 1300s, it is completely covered by white and grey marble. On the principal façade a splendid rose window stands out. The interior other than the 13-1400s frescoes preserves the pulpit and the Holy water fount in marble from the XVI century, and a spectacular hexagonal tank sculpted from a single block of marble.
Madonna delle Grazie, 1600 church with a single nave interior in Baroque style.

Historical info reproduced upon authorization of Regione Toscana - Dipartimento della Presidenza E Affari Legislativi e Giuridici
Translated by Ann Mountford

 
 
 
   
 
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