The Province of Massa-Carrara separates Tuscany from Liguria and Emilia Romagna and is a paradise for tourists in all seasons. It offers, in fact, both an extensive coastline full of sea resorts and fish restaurants, and the Apuan Alps, a seventh heaven for nature lovers and excursionists, with its mountain trails, refuges, white marble quarries and tiny trattorias which entice with the whiff of mouth-watering dishes.
The administrative centre of the province is Massa itself, located in the Frigido River Valley, under the shade of the Alps and at just 5 km from the Tyrrhenian Sea. It counts nearly 70 hamlets going from Marina di Massa and a few others on the coast, to the many speckling the surrounding hills and covering the sides of the mountains. Massa is dominated by the 15th-century Malaspina fortress and its centre is made up of a medieval quarter, with narrow, winding streets, and a 16th-century section built by the Cybo Malaspina family.
Of particular interest in Piazza Aranci, a square outlined by orange trees, is the Renaissance Palazzo Ducale with its Baroque stuccoes and colonnade courtyard, and nearby the Cathedral, with its large flight of stairs leading to the main entrance and the magnificent frescoed arcade above the entrance. To foodies, instead, we suggest a trip to one of the hillside trattorias to try the taglierini pasta with beans, or the renowned tordelli of Massa stuffed with meat, or even a dish of lasagne intordellate. Or else one can try the torta di riso, rice pie, both in its savoury and sweet version, and the green quiche stuffed with eggs, cheese and green vegetables (chards, courgettes or borage). Otherwise down on the seacoast a wise choice would be the baccalà alla massese, marinated fried salt code, or the stuffed mussels. Don’t forget this is the Candia dei Colli Apuani DOC wine area, as the vines covering the steep terraced hills bear witness.
If you’re planning to visit Massa and its surroundings we recommend this lovely villa with a couple of holiday flats for rent on the first floor. The villa has a large garden with an incredible selection of plants (obviously the owners have a passion for botany) and a unique swimming pool. A stunning retreat for an unforgettable vacation at the foot of the Apuan Alps.