Michael Portillo travel by train from Pisa to Lake Garda on Great Continental Railway Journeys, visiting Lucca, Carrara, Florence and Bologna along the way.
With his Bradshaw’s 1913 Continental Railway Guide in hand, the former cabinet minister makes a grand tour of the favourite Edwardian destination of Italy – where he experiences first-hand the nation’s need for speed in a state-of-the-art Maserati sports car.
Michael also discovered from a British engineer how the Leaning Tower of Pisa was rescued from near collapse. In Carrara, he found out how the marble used by Michelangelo is still quarried today and is invited to chip away at a contemporary sculpture.
In Bologna, he embarks on a doomed search for spaghetti bolognese… until a cookery teacher takes pity on him and shows him how to make a much more authentic tagliatelle al ragu.