Saturday, September 14, 2013

Pisa, Cararra and the Italian Riviera - by Gary

Having ‘done’ Pompeii we jumped in the car, heading up the Italian coastal roads back towards France.  Much of the way is unexciting, a lot of drab coastal development and in places huge amounts of roadside rubbish.  

European’s don’t believe in providing public toilets, so following the old adage about “when in Rome....” we learnt to pee where ever it seemed slightly handy (the smell of pee pervades much of Europe).


Our first mildly interesting place on the road was Pisa, where Nina had her go at knocking over buildings.

Our first stop of major interest was Carrara, a destination Sabine had suggested.  Carrara is where they mine prodigious quantities of pure white marble, shipping it all over the world.

Rolling down the main street of Carrara is a continuous stream of marble laden trucks, heading for the port.

Ascending the hills above town, the quarries with their stark white faces are hard to miss.  This is where Michelangelo came to select the stone used to sculpDavid.

We pass artisan workshops where they work the stone.

Closer up marble dust, like snow, settles on everything.  Our silver car is soon white.

We visit a museum and learn about the old mining techniques.

But this is what we have really come to see, vast underground caverns, deep within a mountain, where they cut out the best white marble.

They cut big blocks here!

We are told just five men work this massive underground mine.

The Italian Riviera
One small part of this coast called the Cinque Terre was very enjoyable.  Cinque is Italian for five, and there are five small towns strung around 20 kms or so of rugged hills where the alps spill in to the sea.  Amazingly it is still quite intensively farmed.

Although so much of Italy's coastline has been rendered astonishingly ordinary, the Cinque Terre remains astonishingly beautiful.

It is certainly rare in Italy to see a sea-side landscape with so few humans in it.

There are lots of one-way tunnels.

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