Hunting for old rail: Ferrovia Marmifera di Carrara

NOTICE: more images and links will be added in next months If you found a brown word ... it is a link to be added ...

Map of the area

This railway was built at end of the 19th century to carry the marble from the quarryes on the mountains to the port of Marina di Carrara.
The line had two section, one from the port to the railway station of Avenza, and the other from Avenza to the city of Carrara, where there was the Station of Carrara S. Martino. From Carrara San martino The line moved to NE, passing around the city, then climbing the mountains with a lot of spur ( The trains had to reverse direction many times, to serve the caves at Colonnata and Fantiscritti

Here a general view of the fantiscritti caves from south, with one of the brigde of the railway.

View of cave and Bridges of Vara

The section from the port to Avenza was part of the FMC while the section from Avenza to S. Martino was part of the national railways. The line to the caves left the station of Carrara S. Martino (on left the passenger service building, abandoned in 1963) with a track on the right of freight storage. The viaduct of former railway is now used as the entrance ramp to the parking built in the previous yard.
Presently the line to the port is still in site, while the line from the Avenza station to Carrara S. Martino have been disposed, and one of the bridges removed to give additional clearance to the street below. The part from S. Martino to the caves in the first section is now a road, but one cannot howewer travel on an ordered way due the opposite one-ways on the various section, also the former line is cut by the new hospital.
On back of hospital have been preserved a beautiful iron bridge ad part of "Museo del Cavatore" that have old quarry machinery and also an old steam locomotive and two old freight car (look not to be all original) .

Former freight storageThe line go now to Miseglia, to first reversal, to climb to Torano (to better observe the trip on the map in red are the section of line paved, in violet the tunnel now closed and the section trought the hospital, in yellow that section not paved but accessible) where there is a second reversal.
The line climbed back to Ponti di Vara, of which a particular is shown below, to Tarnone. From there a track went to Colonnata, another, in a tunnel, went to Fantiscritti (the line has gained 300 m now) and with another tunnel now closed to the caves of Canale Bianco.
Currently the railbed is used for its original scope: carry at the port the Marble. The Trucks go up the caves unload using a very steep road, then descend on the old railbed, now fully paved. You could do the full trip either by car or cycling (take a fanal, you get two long tunnels).


You have to leave from Carrara, follow the indications to Colonnata. There are two roads: one more direct, the via Carriona, another via Codena and Bedizzano climbs up, but let you see the overall view (all pictures have been taken from this side). After Bedizzano get the road on left to Miseglia and then to Carrara: You can easily see the rail site and the remains of an overpass. You see on the left the iron bridge of Museo del Cavatore and then follow the indications to Fantiscritti.
You will climb up on the road until Ponti di Vara. This is a typical place of this line where three bridges join , having a grade crossing on a viaduct. On the three bridges fences there are the arms of the railway.
You now folllow ahead on a steep road to Fantiscritti where you see the entrance of two tunnel, the one on left is currently closed, the one on right is used to go down with loaded trucks (since the rail had gentler grade than road). This road is one way, so you must do the tour exactly in the way I say. In the picture above a view of the road (former railway) from the opposite side of valley.
From fantiscritti at end of tunnel you find a place whre there was a siding and the junction to Colonnata. Follow the route, you will be again at ponti di Vara, then after two more tunnel, and a part when you have a full view of the city of carrara you arrive at the reversal of Piastra. You can go ahead to Canal Bianco, the road is steep, but well paved. You could even go to the top (all paved road, but so steep that you will have problem with a car, not to say a bicycle) or simply stop at the entrance of rail tunnel, where there are the remnants of a loading crane.
You get back in Carrara via Torano.

If you will come here I will be happy to arrange a trip together

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