Caio to all,
We're back and ready to continue our trip to Italy. I'm going to try to move more quickly for this blog, so we can try to catch up; we've just returned from a trip to Germany, so we've got even more to report on. If we don't write things down pretty soon after we return, we find our memories start to lose details of what we've seen.
These first few pictures from Rome are just random experiences we'd like to share.
We attended church in the Rome ward, and had a great time. As soon as we walked in we were greeted warmly, and someone sat with us in all the meetings to translate. Their regular accompanist was on vacation, so Debra played for Sacrament meeting. There she is with the chorister. They were best buddies as soon as they met. The Italians reminded us of home, with warm "southern" hospitality.
This is the kitchen, and oven, of a great pizza place we ate dinner at. Our table was right next to the kitchen, so we could watch them fix our pizzas, and then slide them into the big brick oven. You could look inside and see the red hot coals as the pizzas cooked.
Here I am stuffing my face with a really unusual pizza, lots of veggies with a white sauce, not a normal red tomato topping. It was really good, and really large (Debra had her own, the same size), so we could hardly walk out after dinner.
For the next few pictures, we're going to show some details from some of our favorite churches in downtown Rome. The churches and cathedrals in Italy are finished much more lavishly than those in France. Italy has a much more religious culture than France, and it shows in the churches. The picture above is from Debra's favorite church in Rome, St. Agnes on Navona Piazza. The church was filled with beautiful high relief statues like the one above.
Another church had beautiful mosaic floors. Here's a detail from one beautiful floor. The whole floor of the church was covered with mosaics like this. You felt guilty walking on them, like you were walking on a precious painting.
Another high relief sculpture, but showing the carved marble columns that were all over.
Here's a detail from one sculpture that we included because we thought it looks so much like Joseph Smith. Do you think so too?
We're jumping now to Florence. After we couldn't get out of Italy because of the Iceland volcano, we took a train to Tuscany and visited that area. In this blog we'll share our visit in Florence. In the next blog we'll share our visit in the rest of Tuscany.
This picture shows the famous Ponte Vecchio Bridge, which is completely covered with buildings. Anciently it was covered with all sorts of residences and businesses, but once we got down onto the bridge, we found out now it's covered almost completely with jewelry stores. It rained all of the time we were in Florence, so the pictures tend to look a little grey and muted.
Gelatos are really big in Italy, so Debra had to have at least one everyday. Everywhere we saw them the prices were pretty consistent, so when Debra asked for one in a shop on the main tourist drag, she thought she knew what she was getting. However, in this shop they really piled on the gelato, with an equally inflated price of 8 euro (about $10, the normal price in other shops was 2 euro for 2 scoops). Oh well, you live and learn.
Here's the Duomo, or Catherdral, in Florence. The front was a beautiful mix of different colors of marble. Most of the old churches we've seen are grey granite, or other dark stone, so this one in very light colors was a real delight (just a teaser - in the next blog we'll show you the Sienna Duomo, which was even more incredible).
Here's a close-up showing the pink, dark green, and white marble. The intricate carvings were also really cool. I particularly liked the elaborate carved columns.
Michelangelo's David statue is in a museum in Florence, but they wouldn't let you take pictures inside. Here's a copy that was in the central square, with a lot of other sculptures. The statue was impressive, mainly due to it's size, but it was hard to be impressed after seeing the Bernini sculptures in Rome (see last blog). Do you see the resemblence between me and David?
I really liked this statue of a lion; the lines and shading in the marble gave it a really interesting look.
After we'd gone to all the standard Florence sites, museums and such, we still had a little time before our bus left to return to Sienna. It was still raining, so we decided to visit the Pitti Palace. It wasn't rated all that high in our tour guide, but it was inside out of the rain. We only had about an hour, and how we wish we'd gone earlier! It was the palace of the Medici family, who ruled in Florence from the 15th to the 18th centuries, while Florence was a rich trading center for Italy. The section we visited was where the family actually lived, and it was filled with incredible art, room after room full. They wouldn't let you take pictures inside again (copyright issues they say; actually they want to force you to buy a book to get pictures of what you saw). The picture above is an internet download, but it gives you an idea of what it looked like. Ceilings were particularly ornate and beautiful. How would you like to live in rooms like this?
Well, this has been a quick look at churches in Rome, and of Florence. We hope it hasn't been too quick.
Next time we're visiting Sienna and Volterra in Tuscany. Trivia question, to be answered next blog, what significance does Volterra have in American pop culture?
Goodbye until next time,
Ben and Debra in Paris