Thursday, August 28, 2008

Mass in Bressanone

I thought I'd post a few pictures of the church in Bressanone where we went to Mass on Sundays since it was quite an edifice.....

The interior of the church.

A close-up shot of the wooden statues behind the high altar.

Don Davide imposing incense.

Dad singing with the schola.

The elevation.

The woodcarvings at Ortisei

During our time in Bressanone we had the opportunity to travel to the tiny mountain village of Ortisei to view the artisan woodcarvings that are done there. There are many shops that all turn out high quality products, made of the dry, fine-grained Linden wood which is aged several years.

This is a sample Nativity Scene outside one of the showrooms.

A statue of St. Christopher, hand painted.

St. Michael.

Augustin quietly watching a carver as he finishes a corpus for a crucifix. It was very interesting to see his calipers and tools all laid out neatly on the table.

Dad examining some of the miniature statues on shelves.

We parked the cars outside the town and then walked into the town. Here we saw a sign written in the three languages of the region, Italian, German, and believe it or not, Ladin.(Not Latin, that's not a typo, Ladin.)

The town consisted of one main street, some houses behind it, and a piazza with a small church.

The mountains provided a lovely backdrop, crisscrossed with ski lift cars laboring up and down. Even though it wasn't ski season, the view from the top must have still been worth the ride.

Evidently the local honeybee population decided that the Apple Strudel was delectable.....

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Mosaic update - Bianco e Nero

Just thought I'd post an update of the mosaic I'm working on. With all the traveling I've been doing I haven't had much of a chance to work on it but I've started back on it recently.

This is the last post I made on the subject, so you can see the model I'm working off of, and the progress I've made.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Innsbruck, Austria

The town of Innsbruck, Austria was next on our "to-do" list. To reach Innsbruck, we traveled about 1 1/2 hours from Bressanone, including a part on the famous Brenner Pass, the lowest, and easiest traveled pass running through the Alps.

Of course once we got into Austria the difference in culture was noticeable. I think this picture illustrates perfectly the strict, Germanic, rigid Austrian contrasted with the loose, sunny, easy-going Italian mentality. Two cars parked side by side, one Italian, one Austrian. You guess which is which.

A view of Innsbruck as we drove into the city.

First stop was the Cathedral. Here's Andrew standing in the square in front of the Cathedral.

This is the front of the Cathedral of St. Jakob. It was finished in 1724, and although heavily damaged by bombing during WWII it has since been repaired.

Although rather plain on the exterior, it is lavishly Baroque inside. A picture of the ceiling, interior, and high altar.

A lovely side altar with a Pieta` as a centerpiece.

A close-up shot of the high altar, magnificently gilded in silver.

An even closer picture of the painting of Our Lady of Succor by Lucas Cranach the Elder.

Even the pulpit was pretty lavish.

Augustin standing in the center aisle.

This is the royal box where the Emperor and his family would be when they attended Mass. It's situated to the left of the high altar.

The organ, mounted in the choir loft.

Our next stop was the Hofkirche, or Court Church. It was built in the late 16th century as a memorial to the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I. It contains a monument built in his honor and statues of his ancestors. This is the monument in the middle of the church. It contains 24 scenes in marble depicting scenes from his life and many other ornamentations, including a stunning grille surrounding the entire structure.

Also inside the Hofkirche is the tomb of Andreas Hofer, a Tyrolean hero who launched an uprising against Napoleon's forces. Captured and executed after he was betrayed, he is still fondly remembered by Tyroleans.

This is one of the 28 bronze statues of Maximilian's ancestors that grace the interior of the church. This one depicts Theodoric the Goth.

More statues, including King Arthur, King Ferdinand the Catholic of Spain, Archduke Sigismund of Austria, and King Clovis of the Franks.

The main altar in the church, quite lovely.

King Clovis. I found the frogs embellished on his coat of arms to be quite humorous for a French royal. :)

Alex flashing the Victory symbol in front of King Godfrey of Bouillon, also an ancestor of Maximilian. Note the crown of thorns on his head. After capturing Jerusalem from the Saracens Godfrey declared that he would never wear a golden crown where his Savior had worn a crown of thorns.

The January 6th custom of blessing the doors of houses and inscribing them with the names of the three Wise Men was quite prevalent in Innsbruck.

A monument to Leopold V.

Mom, Dad, Alex and Gus standing in front of the Kaiserliche Hofburg, or Imperial court, built in 1640.

We then took a walk along the Inn River (from which Innsbruck derives its name). The mountains in the background made a pretty view....

Alex standing in front of a suspension bridge across the river.

In Austria, of course you would expect to see this! A beer truck making the rounds.

The opera house.

This is the symbol of Innsbruck, the famous "Golden Roof". It covers a balcony from which the Tyrolean Archdukes used to watch events in the square below. The building itself was used by the Archdukes as a residence. The roof is covered with more than 2,600 gold-plated copper tiles.

A view of one of Innsbruck's street cars.

Mom stopped in a jewelry shop to get herself a charm to add to her collection.

Then we all went to get a bratwurst and beer from a stand in a public eating area.

Mom with her beer.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The mineral and silver mine at Monteneve, and the town of Vipiteno

From Bressanone we took a day trip to the mineral and silver mine at Monteneve in the mountains above the Passiria Valley. The mine itself is one of the oldest on record in Europe and was operational until about 50 years ago when it was shut down. Located at more than 6,000 feet it functions as a tourist attraction today, allowing visitors to explore the labyrinths and discover the mining process.

A picture of a helicopter flying large bags of rock up the mountain. We're not sure why, but it looked like some sort of erosion prevention perhaps.

Part of the wooden railway built to accommodate cars loaded with ore coming down the mountain. This track was the largest of its kind in Europe. (It extends for quite some distance beyond what you see here.)

Mined rock was taken first to this machine which crushed it into manageable pieces. The pieces tumbled out the chute below, into the cars, which ran down the track. The guide turned on the machine and crushed some rock for us - wow, what a noise!

The crushed rock was then taken into these machines which crushed it even further.

Each of the machines above was filled with around 6 tons of iron balls like this one (each ball weighs about 15 pounds).

Samples of various minerals that were extracted from the mine. Chief among them were lead, zinc, copper sulphate, and silver.

Because of the distance of the climb, miners lived in close proximity to the mines most of the time, only descending to their homes in the valley occasionally. Sometimes they would work up there for 5 months at a time! Because of the constant presence of the miners, a sort of village developed near the mine entrance, which included this tiny chapel dedicated to St. Barbara, the patron saint of miners.

This is a diorama of the track, with our guide explaining how it worked. The loaded cars descending down the mountain provided the force to pull the empty ones at the bottom back to the top.

After learning how the rock was treated after it was extracted, we donned hard hats and smocks to go into the mine and learn just how the rock was blasted out. Philomena posing in her hard hat....

Dad and Augustin, all ready to go.

Conditions inside the mine were cramped, to say the least. This is one of the ratways that passed as a tunnel. If you look at the ground, you can see the twin rails which loaded cars passed on.

Augustin powering the bellows which were used to pump air down into different sections of the mine.

This exhibit recreated what the bored holes into the rock would have looked like when filled with dynamite charges.

Before miners went to the expense and danger of blasting out rock, they needed to know if it was worth it. This machine is a compressed air drill used for taking core samples. It bit away into the rock and extracted a core sample about an inch in diameter, and more than 3 feet long. By examining this core, miners knew just what was inside the rock they were blasting.

Another one of the tunnels in the mine, this one shored up with pine logs.

Wow! This is a picture from an unusually tall woman that lived in the village in the valley. Talk about not wanting to meet her in a dark alley!

Outside the mine we took a walk and ate a picnic lunch, complemented by some wild blueberries we found growing.

After lunch we went to the pleasant mountain town of Vipiteno (also known as Sterzing). It is a very picturesque, if not large place. This is the main street running through the town, lined with lots of shops, bakeries, and clothing stores.

Andrew taking a drink from one of the flower-decorated fountains.

A statue of St. John Nepomucene in the town square.

Augustin found that the pigeons in Sterzing were just as hungry as the ones in Rome, and enjoyed munching on a few crumbs of his pretzel.

Mom enjoyed perusing some of the lace and line shops, including this one selling handmade German lace.

After passing a lovely afternoon we hit the open road back towards our residence. This is a shot of the road leading out of town, with the mountains in the background.