The port of Carrara
A view of the port
A view of some ships in the port with red reflections of the sunset
The port of Marina di Carrara
The excavation of marble has been going on from more than 2000 years. It began already in the first century B.C in the fields of Colonnata, Miseglia and Torano, but the greatest exploitation was achieved during the empire of Augusto and Marco Aurelio. The blocks of marble left the Luni's port, and Rome was the most frequent destination.
The most important monuments, palaces, temples, statues and memorial tablets were at that time made with this material. It was Strabone the first ancient writer who spoke of the Apuan Alps and of the Luni's marbles. He gives us a quite exact description of the mountains surrounding Luni and of the transport of marble by sea, through naves lapidariae, from the Luni's port to the mouth of the Ticino, and to Rome. The old Roman historian Tito Livio narrates that the Romans used the Luni's port already before the foundation of the town (177 b. C.), to reach Spain by sea, even if the port was under the rule of the Apuan Ligurian, who were subjected and deported.
With the rising of the colony of Luni and the settling of more than 2000 citizens, Rome had the port at its complete disposal. The economic luck of Luni was connected with the mining, working and transport of marble, which was carried down to the plain with wagons suitable for heavy loads and was then put on board. In the second half of the 4th century a. C., owing to a remarkable rise of the cost of the marble mining, Luni went through a crisis and a following degradation.
In the 8th century the town was evacuated because of the pestilence, raids and invasions of Longobard Norman and Saracen and the port became a horrible marsh.
The port of Marina di Carrara
It is the heir of the illustrious Portus Lunae and is situated between the mouths of the rivers Magra and Carrione, in the bending going from "Punta Bianca" (the white Cape) to Livorno and defining a large plain at the foot of the wonderful scenery of the Apuan Alps.
The coast is characterised by golden beaches with fine sand which are equipped with bathing establishments and where it is possible to practise many sports. Hotels, camping sites and refreshment-rooms in this peaceful place encourage tourism, which lives together with the port and the shipyards activities. The first attempts to build a docking date back to the first half of the 18th century, but only between 1840 and 1860, thanks to the increase of the mining and trading of marble and thanks to the economic revival, there was the need to build a great and handy port to foster the docking and the loading of the ships. We owe the first studies on the construction of a call in the once called Marina di Avenza to the Este, who from 1830 extended their domination from Modena to Massa-Carrara. The grand Duke Francesco III entrusted the English engineer Ashenden with the construction of a modern port, but he never brought this task to an end. Only in 1851, thanks to the English industrialist William Walton, a great wharf, which allowed the docking of the ships, was built.
From that day Marina di Avenza became Marina di Carrara, it spread and reinforced its shipping activity. In this way a new generation of shipping masters, harbour employers, seamen and "buscaioli" was born. The word "buscaiol" derives from the Spanish "buscar" which means "to look for": generally when someone was out of the gang for the loading of goods, went to the "busca" hoping to be called back.
Beside these typical figures of the work at the port, it is right to mention even the great help given by the oxen, which were used to haul the carts full of blocks along the wharves.
It was only at the beginning of the 1900s that, thanks to the increase of the mining activity and of the population and because of many tragic events, the final project of the port was obtained.
Thanks to the mayor of Carrara, Edgardo Lami Starnuti, and to the politician Eugenio Chiesa, who is recalled at the entrance of the port with a memorial monument, the building of the wharves started in 1921 and was finished in 1938.
The docking of Marina di Carrara is today known all over the world as the starting point of that wonderful material which is our marble.
The wharf offers also a beautiful promenade on the sea, close to the cliffs with a glance at the imposing mountains, which show different shades according to the hour and the light .
The paving of this promenade is being renovated with tiles of white and grey marble.