Capital of the marble manufactory, Carrara is situated at the bottom of the Western side of the Apuane Alps, along the river of the stream Carrione. This district was already inhabited in the IX century b.C. by the Liguri Apuani, a population with Celtic origins; but only in 180 b.C., under the Roman dominion the city became important for the marble extraction of which most of the monuments in Rome are made of.
The name Carrara, for some has Ligurian origins and the word "kar" means "stone", whilst for others the origins are from the Latin word "carraiae" which translated, means "road for carts". After the Romans, Carrara was ruled by the Goths, the Byzantines and the Longobardi.
The first official traces of the settlement are written in the "curtis de Cararia", a series of imperial documents of Ottone I ,that in 945 nominate Luni Oberto as Lord of Carrara and later in 963, granted all the marble extraction to Gotifredo I (bishop of Luni).
In 1495 the city became home town of the Malaspina, but in the second half of '500, they moved into Massa nearby. Under the dominion of Alberico I, Carrara improved in its economic and cultural aspects.
The city became an important destination for artists of the time such as Michangelo Buonarroti with the intent to choose the pieces of marble for his sculptures.
The urban area developed fast: new Churches were built and the old town center was surrounded by a fortified wall and Piazza Alberica with the attached Malaspina mansion became the fulcrum of the city.
The Cathedral of Carrara dedicated to Saint Andrea was started in 1035. The building was completed in its actual splendor in 1395, with the addition of the dual color marble façade and the bell tower.
The Church with a large cental nave with a truss (triangular bracket) ceiling and side aisles with vaulting arches with a semicircular vault (abside). Today just a few decorations of the façade are of the original plan of the XI century. Inside on exhibition there are a series of art masterpieces and six smaller altars. Famous elements are: the small altar of San Ceccardo, patron saint of Carrara with Renaissance and Baroque influences; the major altar of the sculptor Andrea De Guardi; the pulpit of '500 in polychrome marble and two statues of '300 that represent the Annunciation, known as the "Cassanelle", credited to Giovanni Pisano.
Not to miss: the Church of the Suffrage (built in the second half of XVII century), designed and edified by Innocenzo Bergamini, the Fine Arts Accademy, residence of the Cybo-Malasoina, the Theatre of Animosi, the Politeama Palazzo and last and not least, the marble quarry of Carrara.