The Apuan Riviera owes its fame to the varied landscape, so multifaceted thanks to the coexistence of sea and mountains: from the coast with a view of the mountains, to the precious marble quarries, from the historic villages with their culinary traditions to the many paths to tackle in the midst of nature. And again: lakes, rivers, fortresses and castles, not to mention the important and elegant buildings of the historic city centers. There are many activities that can be done in this area that not only satisfy the most exploratory souls, but also those who want art and culture. Yes, because the Apuan Riviera Terra Scolpita, in addition to being an area of great landscape importance, is a place rich in history, art and culture, preserved in the major city museums. Let's find out together which are the institutions that guard the generous cultural heritage linked to the Apuan Alps and beyond.
In Carrara, the land of marble, there is a large number of museums and spaces dedicated to the white rock, art and tradition connected to it. First of all, the Civic Museum of Marble, at the city gates, documents the marble culture with an excursus on the raw material and its extraction, the uses and customs linked to the quarries and on the life of the quarrymen: in addition to sculptures and reproductions, the museum preserves archaeological finds, tools and machinery used in the quarry and is equipped with a multimedia room whose videos accompany the journey of learning about marble.
The more adventurous will have the chance to enjoy a first-hand, genuine experience of life in the quarry by visiting the Cava Fantiscritti Museum. This open-air museum is located precisely in the heart of the marble quarries and testifies to the memory of the workers in an attempt to relive the historical and important moments related to extraction. In addition to the display of tools, marble blocks and sculptures, there are reproductions of the quarrymen's house so as to make the testimony more vivid and give visitors the chance to lunge into everyday life of the worker of the time.
Inside the wonderful Padula Park, Villa Fabbricotti is a must-see for all lovers of sculpture. Today the seat of CARMI, a museum dedicated to the famous artist Michelangelo Buonarroti, the villa hosts an exhibition project that aims to celebrate the bond between the sculptor and the city of Carrara, a relationship born when Michelangelo made his first trip in 1497 to personally choose that block of marble that would later become the famous Pietà kept today inside St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. The museum preserves documents and reproductions, videos and images that testify the interrelations between the master and the contemporary and hosts temporary exhibitions, as well as insights into the history of the villa and the Fabbricotti family.
Along the common thread of sculpture, a visit to the Academy of Fine Arts in the center of Carrara cannot be missed. Formerly the seat of the Marquis Malaspina, today the academy, in addition to being a place of study and training frequented by students from all over the world, houses an important collection of Roman marbles and Carrara marble, a gipsoteca (a place plaster reproductions are kept) with over three hundred plaster casts, ancient casts and bas-reliefs and preserves some beautiful Renaissance rooms intact.
The very presence of the Academy gives Carrara an artistic ferment that spans all visual and figurative disciplines and makes it a true city of art, where there just had to be a contemporary art museum: the MudAC is located at the inside the former convent of San Francesco and is dedicated to sculpture and its stylistic and material evolution from the 1950s to the present day with works by nationally and internationally renowned artists who have worked and exhibited in Carrara.
Remaining on the subject of art to end on a high note this adventure dedicated to sculpture, we move to Massa. The Villa della Rinchiostra is home to the Gigi Guadagnucci Museum, opened in 2015 on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the birth of the famous sculptor whose name it bears, who died in 2013. The museum not only preserves the major sculptures of the artist from Massa, but also promotes exhibitions and workshops, involves contemporary artists, organizes exhibitions and events with a prolific activity on the latest trends and the current art scene.
In the historic town center of Massa, the Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art is housed in the city's bishop's palace and houses the works that best represent the artistic and religious history of the area: from liturgical instruments and furnishings, to marble and wooden paintings and sculptures, including works created by great names such as Jacopo della Quercia, Felice Palma, Agostino Ghirlanda and Domenico Fiasella.
The famous Gothic Line crosses the Apuan Riviera Terra Scolpita, a defensive line built by the Germans during the Second World War in which partisan forces fought. To keep the historical memory alive, in Montignoso, inside Villa Schiff, today the seat of the Municipality, is located the Gothic Line Documentation Center, a museum that collects images, documents and objects related to the main events of the war and resistance in the territory of the Apuan Alps and Versilia.
Remaining on the war theme, a particularly suggestive and emotional place, open only on special days or short periods of the year, is the R.A.M., Rifugio Antiaereo Martana. Built between 1942 and 1943, this underground shelter could accommodate thousands of people and was subsequently occupied by Nazi troops. Today, a path has been set up inside it, an important testimony to the experience of the war told through photographs and documentaries, where exhibitions, theatrical performances, concerts and book presentations are held. Walking through the tunnel is a very touching experience that allows you to retrace the story of the citizens of Massa who, terrified, flocked inside the shelter, alerted by the sound of the siren of an impending attack.
In Massa the spaces of the Historical Museum for the Promotion of Historical Studies on the Ancient Provinces in the Area of Modena, preserve relics, archaeological finds, coins and a library, testimony of our past and reference for the culture of the territory.
The Luigi Bonacoscia Ethnological Museum of the Apuan Alps, dedicated to popular culture with a collection that includes work tools, agricultural vehicles and other objects related to the production activities and daily life of local populations, with findings dating back to the 19th and 20th centuries.