April 23, 2024

Forte dei Marme, Pisa, and Carrara Marble

We decide to stay in Forte dei Marme for four days, visit Pisa, and visit a Carrara marble quarry operating deep inside the mountain.

Forte dei Marme, Pisa, and Carrara Marble

We had lunch at Bocconcino.

Then we got some passion fruit gelato. It was the tartest ice cream we've ever had. Literally. So tart. Pleasure and pain in a single bite!

We are enjoying the Grand Hotel Imperiale, really great!

We visited the spa and enjoyed the pool, hot tub, and Finnish sauna. It was 176 degrees F and I stayed for 15 minutes. Mitzi checked on me to make sure I was still alive (happily yes) and she thought I was so peaceful. I was , it was very relaxing.

In the evening we got a taxi to Pisa. At 6PM sharp they let in our group and we climbed to the top.

It was strange climbing stairs in a building that is off center. We felt wobbly and a tiny bit disoriented.

The views were beautiful. The steps quite worn.

You can see the tilt in the building as we lean against the walls to steady ourselves.

It was fun to see this building in person. I've seen pictures of it my whole life. It actually exists!

We visited other buildings around the tower. This one had a bunch of people buried there.

This was interesting. I think it was some important guy and he had this sultry women carved on top of his monument. Strange thing to be in this place of memorializing dead people.

The baptistry had it's own building. Including a statue of John the Baptist in the middle of the font.

These are panels on the door. I noticed that the one on the right, which is right next to the entrance, has the butt of a man rubbed and polished clean. I think a lot of people must have touched that butt over the years haha.

The chapel was incredible.

This is one of Mitzi's favorites because the tile floor near the front was an amazing design worthy of a quilt design. It's beautiful.

We rode the train for 30 minutes from Pisa to Forte dei Marme. Mitzi was cute putting on her reading glasses so she could do some in-camera editing while we traveled.

We had a tour up to the Carrara mountains where the Carrara marble is quarried. It was an amazing experience!

This marble is prized around the world. To get up there our guide Tomaso drove on a windy road and long tunnels with beautiful views.

We went deep into the mountain. 400 meters below the surface and 600 meters in.

What they've extracted has left a huge cave.

We learned how to drill it, cut it, and move it. For the miners in this cave their output is one block per week.

They make some prosecco that sells for $300 a bottle. Since the temperature is a constant 60 degrees year round and the humidity is high, evidently it's a really good place to let the stuff ferment.

The bottles are beautiful and accumulate the marble dust as the extraction is going on around them.

In 1995 after extracting a block this image showed up on the marble.

Madonna and Child. Of course Mary is the patron saint of the miners, so this was a pretty special thing for them.

Tomaso asked if we could put on these booties to protect the car from the marble dust. Evidently it's very difficult to clean :)

He drove us further up the mountain to a charming tiny village called Colonnata.

Their tiny church was filled with Carrara marble. This beautiful carving of the Last Supper was on the wall.

We had lunch at Lard Rock Café. This tiny village takes sides of pork and has them cured on Carrara marble slabs. They call this meat Lard.

It's tender and delicate and delicious. Mitzi, not a huge fan of meat, loved this meal.

They served a piping hot basket of bread fried in lard. And we put the Lard on the hot bread and it melted into the bread. Some kind of magic happens and it's irresistible.

Look at the joy on Mitzi's face right after her first bite.

What a dining experience!

The lady who runs the place was so thoroughly Italian in her cook hat and apron, had to capture a picture.

Marble streets!

On our way back to our hotel Tomaso took us to Pietrasanta where we toured a couple days ago. He wanted us to enjoy some gelato. However the 3 gelato stores were all closed. He was disappointed but we assured him we were very happy and it wasn't a problem.

He posted a couple of pictures on his Instagram account, so I've included them here.

Our last full day in Forte dei Marmi. The sun was out and we walked down to the end of the pier. It was quiet and peaceful, just the way we like it.

We had dinner at the hotel for the 4th night in a row. They had a chef's special and Mitzi decided to order it.

We are very glad she did! The 1st course was very thinly sliced octupus.

Then a long flat noodle with fish sauce and fish eggs. Mmmm!

And then the main course – fried calamari. This was the most tasty and tender and lightly breaded calimari we've ever had. 10 out of 10.

I got a fried veal cut bone-in. The most tender and flavorful I've ever had. I want another one!

I'm pretty sure they deep fry in animal fat instead of vegetable oil. The flavors are so much deeper and guttural. Vegetable oil causes inflammation is not good for our bodies. The saturated fats, in spite of 50 years of propaganda to the contrary, are good for us. They taste better too so there :)

Tomorrow we say goodbye to the Grand Hotel Emperiale and Forte dei Marmi. We'll hopefully be back someday. We've loved it here.

We catch a train to Siena, get our rental car, and head out to the Tuscan countryside.