The first marble quarries date back to the second century B.C. The extraction and transportation of the enormous blocks that were "stolen" from the mountains called for incredible effort, much of which has now been replaced by the use of powerful machinery that makes it possible to export this prized material all over the world.
Colonnata is an ancient village of quarry workers: the bends leading up to this village are the same ones that will take you to the quarry road, from which heavy goods vehicles return with their precious loads. The tiny centre, dug out of the rock, is singularly beautiful, and offers a breathtaking view of the mountains. In the surrounding area there are many small villages, each of which has its own special features that make it worth a visit.
The most typical product of Colonnata is its lard with a spiced flavour. It is excellent served with bread baked in a wood-fired oven, which can be found in many shops. You can also try it with fresh tomatoes.
The landscape that appears heading up towards Fantiscritti, Pian della Fioba and higher still, up as far as Isolasanta, with places that here and there are still untouched and quarries that define its physical traits, dates back at least 2000 years. The marble quarried there is above all of the statuary, white variety. The story goes that it has been extracted here since time immemorial. The majority of the most famous works in Rome and other cities worldwide started out here.
At the "museum of the quarry miner", a guide will illustrate the ancient art of producing marble, which you can also see in the little shops dotted along the street.
How to get there
By motorway exit from the A12, or follow the Via Aurelia towards Pisa. Head for Carrara or Massa, from where various roads will lead you up to the summits of the Apuane Alps.