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.

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