The Marble of Michelangelo's Dreams

High in the Apuan Alps of Tuscany sits Monte Altissimo, a 5,213-foot (1,589-meter) mountain, climbed in 1517 by the Italian artist Michelangelo in pursuit of fine marble for his sculptures. There, according to Reuters, he “found the marble of his dreams. It was, the Renaissance master wrote, ‘of compact grain, homogeneous, crystalline, reminiscent of sugar.’” After receiving the blessing of Pope Leo X, Michelangelo worked for years to open a functional quarry, but was unsuccessful, and the project faltered. Today, five quarries operate on the mountain, using heavy machinery and modern techniques to carve up the hillside and extract the prized marble.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Tomohiro Ohsumi / Getty

    The Snow Monkeys of Nagano

    Images of Japanese macaques relaxing and staying warm in the waters of a mountain hot spring

  • Peter White / Getty

    Photos of the Week: Firefly Forest, Husky Club, Turnip Toss

    Frustration at the Australian Open, a light show in London, Republic Day parade rehearsals in India, snow cover in Yosemite Valley, anti-government protests in Peru, and much more

  • Yannick Gouguenheim / Ocean Art

    Winners of the 2022 Ocean Art Underwater Photo Contest

    Some of the top images from the 14 categories of underwater photography in this year’s competition

  • Toby Melville / Reuters

    2023 Lunar New Year Celebrations

    People around the world ushered in the Year of the Rabbit with displays of fireworks, family get-togethers, temple visits, and street festivals.