During these two weeks at Lerici we also got to explore a little bit of Tuscany. An area that we did not know and that has reserved pleasant surprises for us. In today's article we want to tell you about Carrara, which can be easily combined with a day trip to Colonnata and the village of Pontremoli.
Surely you have heard of it for its renowned lard, which is still produced according to tradition in large marble vats. But let's go in order, let's start to talk about this small village.
The village of Colonnata peeks out in the middle of the mountains that have always been known for the magnificent Carrara marble. The village is really small and can be explored on foot in no time. Visit the small church of San Bartolomeo, entirely decorated in marble and in its churchyard the monument to the quarrymen, logically also completely in marble. Then choose a place for a snack or a lard-based lunch. We went to the veranda of the Lard Rock Cafe, where lard is included in the courses from appetizer to dessert, with a truly delicious set menu.
Then I recommend that you visit one of the 22 larderie (shops that sell lards) of this village, to understand more about the history of this Tuscan delicacy. We went to larderia La Conca, where the owner told us how it is produced, simply leaving the lard in the tanks with the addition of salt and spices for at least 6 months.
The quarries offer different types of visits, we have preferred an alternative way to discover them. We started from Vergheto (900 m), parking the car along the road and then taking path 169. After a stretch inside a wood we arrived at Monte Tamburone (800 m) through a very panoramic stretch on the ridge. A short distance further and we arrived at Cima Gioia, where the well-known mural of David of Kobra is located.
In addition to the beautiful mural, here the panorama extends over the coast to Portovenere and across the plain of the Magra River. Below us we were able to observe several quarries from above, where it is possible to see the carvings in the mountain.
The tour took us about 2h, if you want to walk more you can also take a complete loop, starting from Colonnata.
The complete itinerary of our trail, including the photos taken and their precise position on the map, can be found on Gaia GPS. Also from this link you can download the itinerary in GPX / KLM format or print it.
Then take back the car for driving a short distance to the bridges of Vara. Built in 1890 as a completion of the railway line that connected the quarries to the port of Marina di Carrara, they have a classic and very particular aspect. In the sixties they were converted back to the road and therefore you can cross them on the way back to Carrara, stopping at the most panoramic points for a few shots.
Returning from Colonnata we stopped for a short visit in the colorful historic center of Carrara, starting from its heart: piazza Alberica. Originally used as the livestock market, it was renovated and enriched with particular noble palaces around the middle of the sixteenth century. Noteworthy is the Palazzo del Medico, which attracts the eye with its bright red and window decorations. In the center of the square is the monument to Maria Beatrice d’Este, Duchess of Massa and princess of Carrara.
From here we continued on foot to the Cathedral of S. Andrea, with its splendid marble facade and decorated with a beautiful rose window.
Carrara is a pleasant city that is worth including in the itinerary. There would have been many other attractions to visit, such as the Cybo Malaspina Palace, but for this time we thought we would simply visit it on foot, strolling through its historic center.
Thanks to the advice of the owners of the structure that hosted us, we decided to visit the small village of Pontremoli.
We arrived in the center from the piazza della Repubblica, where the Torre del Campanone stands out. During our visit there was a flea market and a lot of people out and about. In a small courtyard which is accessed from the portico on the right, there is a tourist office that will be able to provide you with all the information on current events. From here we continued to the piazza del Duomo where the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta is located.
Its construction represented the thanks of the inhabitants to the Madonna for having been spared from the terrible plague epidemics that had plagued these areas around 1600. The historic center is pleasant to walk around and we advise you to continue uphill to the symbol of the city: the Piagnaro Castle.
In a strategic position, it allowed the control of the ancient via Francigena. Inside the castle, the interesting Museum of Stele Statues is worth a visit. These are stele-shaped statues, with very stylized features, dating back to the prehistoric age. Women, men, represented in a simple way but decorated with jewels and weapons. Each stele is different from the other and many have been found, all in the Lunigiana area.
Before your trip
- How to reach them? The towns that we talked about can be easily reached by car and have convenient free parking spaces near the center
- Where to buy souvenirs? In Colonnata undoubtedly a good slice of Lardo di Colonnata IGP from one of the typical larderie found in the town. At Pontremoli you cannot miss the Amor: two wafer squares that enclose a soft cream-based heart. We advise you to buy them for a snack in the historic Caffè e Antica Pasticceria degli Svizzeri in piazza della Repubblica, 21 The name of this historic place, which deserves a visit to appreciate the interior as well, is linked to the historical period in which Lunigiana was the destination of a flow of immigration from Switzerland, hence probably the origin of the dessert
- Where to eat? We decided for a simple lunch at La Caverna dei Nani. It has a pleasant internal garden and prepares delicious stuffed testaroli, as well as sandwiches and salads, to be washed down with a wide selection of craft beer