Two ex-miners in a mine…
We visited Tuscany last week…
It takes 4 hours to get from Canelli to Florence…but we managed to make the trip last 9 hours!
The autostrada was incredibly busy because of summer holidays so there were a few delays due to heavy traffic…and, of course, we made a couple of detours!
Our first detour was to the marble mines at Carrara. This is where Michelangelo sourced marble for his ‘David’ and ‘Pieta’ sculptures.
We arrived at lunchtime so we walked around the old town before enjoying a picnic of bread and cheese under a block of units on a workman’s bench (don’t ask!!!).
After lunch we set off to the ‘Cave Marmo’ (marble quarries).
First, we were on a quiet two way road through forest which provided some great distance views of the quarries.
But then suddenly we found ourselves on a one way road that went way up into the mountains, through long unlit marble tunnels. along precipices thick with white dust and past huge mining equipment that was operating at the base of sheer strata of pure glistening white rock!
When we saw a sign that announced ‘regular vibrations’, the professional safety-obsessed mining people in us pressed the panic button!
“We’re not supposed to be in here! This is a mine!” Stu yelled at me.
But it was a one way road so we couldn’t turn back!
We continued around a few more bends and through a few more dark tunnels until we reached a flat space.
Several cars were parked in this space…outside a cafe!
Only in Italy…a cafe in the middle of a mine site!
So we stopped and I walked into the cafe on trembling legs to ask how to get back down the mountain. The nice lady told me to take the low road which was apparently much prettier.
As I was leaving the cafe, I glanced to my left and saw a little marble statue of Mary so I told the lady that I would be back with money for the statue and took off back to the car.
At the car, I happily announced to Stu that we should take the low road.
“No way” he said “Huge heavy mining trucks have been going down that road!” he spluttered.
“You must have misunderstood the lady!” he panicked, as we watched a truck laden with massive blocks of marble turn down the low road.
I went back inside, both to buy the statue and to check the instructions.
The lady confirmed that we should take the low road.
“But there are big trucks on that road!” I blurted.
She merely smiled and said “Yes, but it is safe”.
Only in Italy…a steep descent shared by private cars AND mining vehicles!
Back at the car, I told Stu again that we were going to take the low road. Just as he opened his mouth to disagree again, a car with a Netherlands number plate turned down the road in question.
“Right!” I said “Let’s follow that car!” and off we set, through yet more dark marble tunnels and white fog and mines, only this time with heavily-laden trucks bearing down on us!
It was quite simply THE utter highlight from our trip to Florence!