Ancient Quarry of Ornavasso (Antica Cava di Ornavasso)
Some of the most popular churches in Italy are clad in marble from Ornavasso, found deep inside the mountains near Lake Maggiore. The Antica Cava di Ornavasso offers a glimpse into the history of quarrying marble, from open-air trenches to massive modern tunnels.
Visit the quarry complex where the prized marble has been extracted since Roman times. You’ll tour the historic quarry on foot, and the modern quarry by train car. Nearby, take in views of the scenic Toce River (connected to Lake Maggiore), which forms the beginning of a waterway used for centuries to transport huge blocks of marble.
Located a short drive from Lake Maggiore, the quarry is an easy day trip from Stresa and the Borromean Islands or Lake Orta. To save time at the entrance to the complex, purchase your ticket online in advance.
Things to Know Before You Go
Kids especially seem to enjoy visiting the towering caverns and tunnels deep underground.
Expect a significant amount of walking.
Temperatures can be chilly belowground even on the hottest days of summer, so take a light sweater or jacket to wear during your tour.
The complex isn’t accessible to wheelchairs.
How to Get There
Antica Cava di Ornavasso can be reached only by car. Take highway A26 Voltri-Gravellona Toce to the Ornavasso exit (SS 33 Sempione), and follow the signs to the quarry.
When to Get There
Go from spring through fall to avoid driving through snow in winter.
Where to Find Marble from Ornavasso
Marble from Ornavasso graces some of Italy’s architectural masterpieces. Look for it at the Duomo, Church of San Fedele, and Arco della Pace in Milan; the Certosa and sections of the Cathedral of Pavia; the apses of San Carlo and Santa Cristina in Turin; and the altars of Busto Arsizio and the Church of Sestriere.
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