From England we jump yet again over much beautiful and interesting terrain and history in favor of a direct landing in Italy. It has to be Italy! So much of what we take for granted today in our civilization originated with the Romans, a remarkably creative, industrious, and intrepid civilization whose influence and inspiration was sadly missed for centuries after their eventual decline. And long after the Romans were gone, it was Italy once again where much of the European Renaissance of thought, taste and style was revived.
The Italian relationship with geology is very direct , utilitarian and at the same time remarkably creative. Perhaps few civilizations rival the Italians for their inventive use of highly varicolored natural stonemasonry, either in the creation of remarkable art, or remarkably artistic buildings. Enterprising quarrymen and traders sought out hugely varied selections of marbles, limestones, granites, slates, and many more that could be anything from an almost pure snow white, to almost totally black, to any tonal variation of gray in between; they sought rich ochre reds, variations of yellows, or greens, browns or purples; they especially sought rocks with interesting internal variations from highly intricate crystals to varicolored veins and dense fossil assemblages. The Italians obviously found great beauty and joy in the natural resources the earth had to offer them.
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