Do you like clean teeth and cakes that rise? You can thank marble dust for that. Do you know why churches are cold. It's because marble stays cold. This morning we had a fascinating trip to a Carrara marble quarry. Kind of like where Fred Flintstone works but a little more modern and people were wearing work boots.
We checked out of our hotel in La Spezia and headed out to Carrara where there are 25 km of mountains with pure white marble at the top. Our knowledgeable guide, Diego, shared some interesting facts with us on the drive up the mountain. Once we reached as high as we were going, we visited the museum to see artifacts gathered from the mountains.
The marble quarries of Carrara have been active since the first century BC started by the Romans. There are 175 quarries in total and in the area we are in there are 30 quarries. They used to only be able to cut 7cm by hand in an entire day. Technology has made it easier to excavate and transport it now, but is still a lengthy process.
The marble of Carrara is unique, it is pure white inside and outside. The quarry we went to is called Michelangelo and he personally chose marble from the quarry for some of his famous pieces including The Pieta and Moses.
The quarries are efficient and do not waste. The marble dust is made in to toothpaste and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). Also the best concrete is made from marble stones. The tour was fascinating.
As you drive around this area of Tuscany you can see blocks of marble ready to transport. All of these are bought and paid for. Marble doesn't come out of the mountain until it is purchased. And if you want to buy marble, it's not cheap. €5,000 for one tonne. One cubic meter is about three tones so €15,000. The biggest exports are to North America, China and Arab nations.
Next on the agenda back to Tuscany for more food and drink. Driving through the Tuscan country side is stunning - hills, vineyard, olive trees, cypress trees...
We arrived at the beautiful agritursmo family farm in Montecarlo di Lucca. On this sunny afternoon we were greeted by the sound of many birds chirping and our effervescent hostess Antoinella. We were escorted to the wine cellar for lunch but first we learned about the wine, olives, olive oil, vinegar and other products they produce. We were served home made pasta (that was divine), four different wines followed by bruschetta, bread, salami, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and we topped it off with biscotti dipped in sweet holy wine. So delicious! We took a group photo with Diego and started our four hour trek back to Rome.
We checked in to Hotel Sonya and met up with Aunty Mary Lou, Uncle Rick, Karen and Monte. We went for a quick bite to eat at an Irish pub (seems odd) and out waiter told us he fell in love with a Canadian from Regina the week before (do we know her?) He said he is even willing to embrace winter for love. Easy for someone to say who has never experienced a Canadian prairie winter!