Duchy of Massa and Carrara

Regional Overview

A Legacy in Marble

The Dukes of Massa and Carrara owed their independence to the Holy Roman Emperor, who protected them, and the legendary marble quarries that provided for them. The marble of Carrara formed the foundation of the Roman Empire and later the Tuscan Renaissance and is evident across the region.

Regional Identity

What to Lookout For

  • The town of Cararra and surrounding mountain villages of the marble quarries
  • Extravagant monuments of marble, such as the ducal palace and the cathedrals of Massa and Carrara
  • The marble quarries themselves, with some dating back to Etruscan times




Justin Bunch | CityscapeTravel

What is the Duchy of Massa and Carrara?

Massa and Cararra is a small administrative region within the modern Tuscan Region. However, the historical duchy was much smaller than these borders and barely encompassed the cities. The historical Duchy of Massa and Cararra was essentially a state-run quarry mine for Europe. Its boundaries encompassed a small portion of the Apuan Alps that contained some of the purest marble in the Mediterranean. It was prized in ancient Rome and during the Renaissance. It adorns the Pantheon’s halls and pillars, and Michelangelo carved his statue of David from it. Carraran marble laid the literal foundation for the great works of Renaissance art.

The state maintained some semblance of independence until the unification of Italy in the late 19th century. Initially, it allied with the Holy Roman Empire, which offered protection and later entered into a dynastic union with the Duchy of Moderna. The duchy’s borders remained essentially unchanged until administrated reforms in the 1920s. In the map above, we see the boundaries roughly as they were before the Italian unification.

Interactive Map

My Subjective Travel Rankings

To understand where the categories come from, see this article here.

6.4 / 10

The score is based on the following:

  • Accommodation: 5
  • Transportation: 3
  • Volume/Capacity: 6
  • Infrastructure: 8
  • Interactivity: 8

6 / 10

The score is based on the following:

  • Context: 5
  • Monuments: 8
  • Quality: 5

7.5 / 10

The score is based on the following:

  • Abstraction: 8
  • Tradition: 7



Explore the European Renaissance through a legacy of art and stone

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