I am taking a trip down memory lane. Today, while getting ready for a short trip, I discovered an old collection of pictures I put together in an album. It was our family's first bicycle trip together. We joined a small group to bicycle through the hills of Tuscany, Italy. As I am trying to get in shape for some serious bike riding this season, I hope to use these pictures as a source of inspiration. I have some traveling to do in the next few days, but when I return I will scan some pictures each day. I promise!
Volterra, a jewel of Etruscan, Roman, Medieval and Renaissance art, dominates the whole valley of the river Cecina.
Volterra is an important location in Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series. In the books, Volterra is home to the Volturi, a coven of powerful and ancient vampires.This small Tuscan city with an ancient Etruscan history has become a cult destination among traveling teenagers and people in their 20s (not to mention some vampire-loving mothers).
Not all cities would embrace vampires, particularly one with as proud a history. One of the 12 Etruscan power centers from the sixth to fourth century B.C. built on an economy of alabaster, iron and salt, Volterra boasts one of the largest collections of that civilization's artifacts at the Guarnacci Etruscan Museum. A Roman amphitheater outside the town walls dates to the first century, and its medieval center remains one of the best preserved in Italy.
The Romans gained much of their engineering knowledge from the Etruscans. The Romans used the Etruscans' keystone arch which allowed for strong and durable bridges. The Romans looked to build a bridge strong enough to stretch over long distances while handling heavy loads. This was not easily accomplished, because when a bridge is built with a piece of stone bridging a space between two supports, a heavy weight in the middle will be too heavy and break the bridge. They resolved this problem by using what is called the voussoir arch. This was half a circle of tapered stone blocks arranged together. The ends stood on piers made of stone blocks mortared together with pozzolana cement. The arch would be covered with stone blocks cemented together to make a flat surface. The weight of the stone and concrete of the bridge itself compressed the tapered stones together. This made the arch a very strong structure, one able to withstand heavy loads.
The notation I made for this picture was: "Brother Tom in Volterra, notice the steep incline!". I remember the ride into the town. My brother Jerry and I would probably refer to it as the ride to the Gates of Hell! Hot and hotter; steep and steeper. Very long. More pictures to follow.
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Come back often to see what these piglets are discussing. Pork may be on the menu. Menu changes frequently.
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