Monday, July 20, 2009

Greetings from Italy

What to choose to show you? . . . . .

So many pictures . . . . .

This past weekend, when transfer week was finished, Elder Sommerfeldt and I headed up to Pisa and Florence (Firenze) for the weekend. Elder and Sister Olsen were very hospitable and showed us around their area. Quindi (so) . . . .

Firenze is probably best known for the David by Michelangelo which stands 17 feet high in all his nude glory. He sculpted David when he was only 26 years old and finished him in 1504.You can clearly see the muscles and veins (as well as other things), the work is done so well. There are several other works of art in the museum where he stands, but David is the highlight.

The other well-known landmark in Firenze is the Old Bridge. During WWII all the bridges were bombed except this one bridge. The apartments up over the top of the bridge on both sides are now jewelry and gold stores. In this picture you can see the other bridges which were rebuilt further down the river to be able to move around the city.

Pisa has the leaning tower, of course. It truly is leaning. Construction on the tower was begun in 1173 and was doomed to failure from the beginning as the foundation was poorly laid. As the builders were involved in several wars, the tower took many years to complete and in the interim, the ground settled enough so that the tower did not topple over. Our pictures where we are propping it up – yet another time - didn’t turn out all that great.

The other man-made feature we enjoyed seeing in Pisa were the aqua-ducts. These picturesque arches go on for miles. There is a large pipe in the top of the aqua-duct which carried the water to the city and the arches were so that you could still easily travel through them rather than have a solid wall.

On Saturday we decided to visit the Carrara marble mine. This was incredible. Once again the works of God surpass the works of man. When you first see the mountain from a distance, it looks like it is covered with snow, but actually it is white marble.

The marble mined on the outside of the mountain is a softer marble and what the great sculptures like Michelangelo chose for their work.

We took a tour of the inside of the mountain where the marble is much more dense. This marble would be used for buildings. After driving in vans about 400 meters into the mountain, we were in a huge cavern where the marble had already been mined. The ceiling of this part was 18 meters high. Over the last 12 to 15 years, the marble has been removed from the inside of the mountain. It is cut by a diamond chain saw and cables with diamond bits about every 2 inches along the cable. In this cave, rooms of marble are removed from the ground up, but columns or supports must be left intact so that the mountain will not collapse. They are only allowed to mine the marble to a certain height inside, with considerable space left untouched and then from the top down on the outside to within safe limits. We were literally standing in giant natural marble rooms. One other interesting fact that I enjoyed was that in different parts of Italy and the world, different colors of marble are mined. I purchased a black marble egg with gold veins in it that was mined close to LaSpezia. Since we have been to LaSpezia, that was very interesting to me. The base to hold my egg upright is white with grey veins in it and was taken from the mine in Carrara, where we were.

Then on the way home from Pisa, as we passed by Livorno, we saw an incredible view of the rocks and Mediterranean Sea. What a beautiful world we live in. Firenze, Pisa, LaSpezia, and Livorno are all cities in our mission where our elders and sisters are living and working.