[...] I've come to Tuscany's workaday Carrara to follow in the footsteps of Michelangelo. Not for me the usual tourist itinerary of church gawping and crowded art galleries. On a new two-day break that combines this brief sculpture class among powder-tinged statues with a visit to the region's famous quarries, I'll be experiencing the essence, the distillation if you like, of the world's most memorable marble creations.
But first off, a chat with Francesca, direct descendant of the workshop's 19th century founder. Carrara once boasted over 100 similar establishments - the marble equivalent of bronze foundries - but nowadays, only Nicoli's is still in operation.[...]
"In the Footsteps of Michelangelo" is offered by Hotel Principe Forte dei Marmi, a member of Great Hotels of the World (020 7380 3658; ghotw.com). The rate is 350 euros per person per night half-board, including a visit to the quarry and sculpture studio experiences, museum entries in Pietrasanta, aperitivo and lunch in Colonnata. British Airways (ba.com) flies from Gatwick and Heathrow to Pisa from £140 return.
Via Mariano Pallottini