Friday, March 5, 2021

Ivy Bis of the Hedera Chronicles

Ivy removal examples | Walls and fences of ivy | It mocks us

Two famous ivy topiaries on Viale delle Mura in Bergamo’s Upper City: the swan and the heart. We begrudgingly admit these are two okay uses of ivy as long as they don’t bear fruit.Two famous ivy topiaries on Viale delle Mura in Bergamo’s Upper City: the swan and the heart. We begrudgingly admit these are two okay uses of ivy as long as they don’t bear fruit.
Two famous ivy topiaries on Viale delle Mura in Bergamo’s Upper City: the swan and the heart. We begrudgingly admit these are two okay uses of ivy as long as they don’t bear fruit.


Our post from August 2020, Thoughts on Ivy in Italy: Problem or Part of the Scenery? showed some egregious examples of ivy overtaking trees and spaces around Bergamo. In that post, we concluded that while we find ivy-gone-crazy an affront, it isn't perceived that way in Italy. Furthermore, we challenged ourselves to find some positive examples of where ivy was used in a "good" way or was useful, while also looking for signs of where it was removed. It was hard but we found some examples in each of these categories However the more we looked the more we saw really bad examples.


Ivy removal examples


Parco Sant'Agostino Ivy Removal from Tree - BeforeParco Sant'Agostino Ivy Removal from Tree - AfterParco Sant'Agostino Ivy Removal from Tree - BeforeParco Sant'Agostino Ivy Removal from Tree - After
We don't only complain about ivy, we remove it when we can like here in Parco Sant'Agostino. I never thought I'd think a pair of garden clippers would be our constant companion when walking.

Parco Sant'Agostino Ivy Removal from TreeIvy Removal from Tree in San VigilioIvy removed from a farmhouse wall in Via Castagneta.Ivy removed from a farmhouse wall in Via Sudorno.
Examples of ivy removal, from left to right, a tree in Parco Sant'Agostino, a tree in San Vigilio, a farmhouse wall in Via Castagneta, and a house wall in Via Sudorno.

On a fence near the stadium a once hardy ivy's remains, intricately woven into a metal fence.On a fence near the stadium a once hardy ivy's remains, intricately woven into a metal fence.
On a fence near the stadium a once hardy ivy's remains, intricately woven into a metal fence.


Walls and fences with ivy, protection

Ivy protection from Pyrrhocoris apteris - firebug.The same metal fence as above but with living ivy. Win some, lose some.The same metal fence as above but with living ivy. Win some, lose some.
Left: One a recent hike we saw these insects that take cover under ivy. Are we harming them when we remove ivy? Can they find other shelter?  Center and right: The same metal fence as above but with living ivy. Win some, lose some.


It mocks us


On a recent lunch at Trattoria Parietti, I found myself face to face with an ivy espresso cup. Gulp.An ivy plant spouts from a wall on Lo Scorlazzone - a hill climb to San Vigilio.Ivy infestation along Via Costantino Beltrami.
Left: On a recent lunch at Trattoria Parietti, I found myself face to face with an ivy espresso cup. Gulp. Center: An ivy plant spouts from a wall on Lo Scorlazzone - a hill climb to San Vigilio. Right: Ivy infestation along Via Costantino Beltrami.

When ivy is ugly, it's really ugly like this "trimmed" ivy on Via Fontanabrolo.When ivy is ugly, it's really ugly like this "trimmed" ivy on Via Fontanabrolo.
When ivy is ugly, it's really ugly like this "trimmed" ivy on Via Fontanabrolo. To the owners of this property: It's coming back.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Street Sign Language Lesson XXXV – Cats, Dogs, Chickens and Horses Oh My

previous lesson | this lesson

Has the number of lost cats and dogs risen or what during the pandemic? Why isn't mainstream media covering this!? Or, perhaps the simpler answer is that the number hasn't changed and during the pandemic we are spending more time walking around the city and seeing these signs? In this post we provide you with some animal-themed signs spotted around Bergamo in the last few weeks, including two lost cats and one lost dog.



MI SONO PERSO!! MI CHIAMO PANGO. PER FAVORE, SE MI VEDETE CHIAMATE IL MIO PADRONE LUCA.
I’m lost!! My name is Pango. Please, if you see me, call my owner Luca.


Cucciola amorosa. RICOMPENSA.

Cucciola amorosa. RICOMPENSA. Smarritto gatta di 18 mesi. Grigio chiaro. Occhi blue. Microchip.
Affectionate kitten. Reward. Lost cat (female) 18 months old. Light grey. Blue eyes. Microchipped.

The ending "A" of cucciola and amorosa and gatta means it's a female cat. The only thing bugging us was the "O" of smarritto. Shouldn't that be an "A" as smarritta gatta? We think so, unless the writer intended abbiamo smarritto gatta… - we lost a cat, but that really should be abbiamo smarrito una gatta… Oh, the mystery.


LETTIERA AGGLOMERANTE naturale.

LETTIERA AGGLOMERANTE naturale.
Naturally binding cat litter.

Lettiera derives from letto or "bed".


VAFFANPOLLO.

VAFFANPOLLO
Go do a chicken?

Vaffanculo means "f$#% off" deriving from a contraction, " of va' a fa' 'n culo, where fa' and 'n are dialectal variants for fare "to do" and in "in (preposition)", respectively. Literally 'go do [it] in [the] ass'."  This sign is for a restaurant specializing in chicken and uses this play on words, which perhaps doesn't have a literal translation, but is easily grasped by any Italian speaker.


AZIENDA AGRICOLA E CENTRO IPPICO.

AZIENDA AGRICOLA E CENTRO IPPICO.
Farm and Equestrian Center.

Ippico derives from the Greek for horse. It always makes us think of the horse chestnut tree Aesculus hippocastanum, where the species epithet means a chestnut for horses as it is/was believed that feeding these nuts to horse could help them with panting or coughing. In Italian, the common name for the tree is ippocastano (dropping the "H" on the species name). For more on the dropping of H going from English to Italian, see our post The Case of the Missing H in the Italian and English Word Cognates.


MI SONO PERSO!! MI CHIAMO PANGO.

SE È PERSO PIPPO.  Zona questura, se qualcuno dovesse vederelo contattare al numero.
Pippo is missing.  Questura neighborhood. If anyone should see him, contact the number.

Very nice and polite use of the subjunctive tense, dovesse.  You could say as well se qualcuno lo vede, meaning "if anyone sees him". 

Questura is not the name of the neighborhood but rather means "police headquarters", i.e., the neighborhood around that. (It's odd that living in the US, we didn't know or really need to know where the police headquarters were. Living in Italy, you sort of have to know where they are because you find that you need to go there for certain types of licenses, passport renewal, and other official documentation. The questura in question here – location - is one we have walked by and gone into several times.)

AI PROPRIETARI DEI CANI. 

AI PROPRIETARI DEI CANI. SI INVITANO I PROPRIETARI DEI CANI AD UNA MAGGIORE EDUCAZIONE E CIVILITA' E AD EVITARE CHE I LORO ANIMALI SPORCHINO IL MARCIAPIEDE DAVANTI AL PORTONE E GLI STIPITI.
To dog owners. Dog owners are kindly requested to show better manners and decency and avoid having their pets soil the sidewalk in front of the door and doorjamb.

All caps…as typical in Italian writing. (It reads like screaming to us but doesn't for Italians.) Why stipite - doorjamb? Because dogs often lift their legs and pee on doorjambs. We we first read it, it looked like la stirpe – ancestry – and the image of dogs soiling sidewalks and descendants rattled around in our heads as we walked up via San Tomaso where this sign was seen.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

A Hike to Santuario di Rosciano – Santuario Grotta di Lourdes of Bergamo

Overview | Notes | Flora and Fauna | More Photos

Chiesetta di San Marco alla Maresana.View east from Via alla Zarda across lower Maresana.

The entrance to Grotta di Rosciano.A statue in the grotto.The hike tracks.
Top left: Chiesetta di San Marco alla Maresana.
Top right: View east from Via alla Zarda across lower Maresana.
Bottom left: The entrance to Grotta di Rosciano.
Bottom center: A statue in the grotto.
Bottom right: The hike tracks.


Overview

Length: ~ 13.5 km

Duration: ~ 5 hours (includes lunch)

Elevation: 533 m elevation gain max

Location: Italy, Lombardy, Bergamo - Ponteranica


Notes

We had two objectives in mind for today's hike: finding a different way up to Maresana and stopping by the La Grotta di Rosciano, also called Santuario Grotta di Lourdes.

Maresana is the hill just north of Bergamo this is easily reacheable on foot from anywhere in Bergamo. Or, with a little help from the #6 bus to take you to the base of the hill. The max elevation in Maresana (Hill) is a respectable 546 m (1,791 feet). Not far from Maresana and completely connected by hiking trails is Canto Alto (Mountain) at 1,146 m (3,759 feet). The exact cutoff between hill and mountain is debatable, but Maresana feels like a hill and Canto Alto a mountain.

We've covered trips to Maresana numerous times, including:

The question you might be formulating is why don't we just move to Maresana?  And, note the number of hikes in 2020 with Maresana as goal or waypoint. It's indicative of zero travel and a more intense focus on local attractions during the pandemic. Tourism kilometer zero.

We started today's hike by entering in Porta San'Agostino of Città Alta and exiting out Porta Garibaldi (technically named Porta San Lorenzo), and following Val Verde to a point we could cross SS470.

At this point we are in the neighborhoods of Valtesse and Valbona. Open City Maps shows "paths" up the hill, but as we found out, some went over private property or really weren't paths at all. In the end, we walked up part of the way on Via Maresana. We felt a little defeated. (Close inspection of the attached hike tracks shows a point were we back tracked  on Via Richetti – rare for Travelmarx!)

From Via Maresana we walked a short stretch on Via Rosciano to find the grotto. Our spirits lifted immediately upon entering the La Grotta di Rosciano complex. The sanctuary/church is located in Rosciano, a frazione or hamlet of Ponteranica – just north of Bergamo across the valley. Rosciano is more or less the western part of Maresana.

The sanctuary has relatively recent origins. A parish priest named Luigi Ravasio was visiting the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes in France in 1925 and came up with the idea of recreating a smaller version of the famous pilgrimage sight in his own parish in Bergamo. According to an old brochure explaining the history of the grotto, the village was in need of a good source of drinking water as well. After many studies, consultation of dowsers (rabdomante in Italian) and tests, a source was found and the grotto was dedicated on September 13, 1930. 

In English, we say grotto, while in Italian, it's grotta, feminine.

On our visit to the grotto today, we were the only ones. Perhaps on a gray day with light rain, no one is interested in a going inside a grotto? The church and source of water is excavated from a hillside with a road running over it. At maximum depth, the church penetrates about 75 feet into the hillside, really more of a chasm with light from above.

From the small garden in front of the grotto there is a pleasant view northwest toward Monte Linzone.

As a final word about La Grotta di Rosciano also labeled prominently as Santuario Grotta di Lourdes, it seems our parish priest Ravasio wasn't the only one moved to create a replica of Lourdes. The Wikipedia Lourdes grotto page lists a number of replicas around the world.

After the grotto, we hoofed it up Via Rosciano and then veered off into the woods on a trail to La Maresana (trattoria) for a nice, relaxed lunch. And to return back to Bergamo we followed trails down to end up on Via Col di Lana and Via all Zarda.


Lunch at Maresana, antipasto, primo (onion soup and crepes), and secondo (polenta with eggs and mushrooms).Lunch at Maresana, antipasto, primo (onion soup and crepes), and secondo (polenta with eggs and mushrooms).Lunch at Maresana, antipasto, primo (onion soup and crepes), and secondo (polenta with eggs and mushrooms).
Lunch at Maresana, antipasto, primo (onion soup and crepes), and secondo (polenta with eggs and mushrooms).

Flora and Fauna


For flora, there were the usual mid winter suspects: the welcome splash of purple from common hepatica Anemone hepatica and a few gangly Christmas roses Helleborous niger, both in the buttercup (Ranunculaceae) family.


Common hepatica - Anemone hepatica.Christmas rose - Helleborous niger.Christmas rose - Helleborous niger.
Left: Anemone. Center and right: Helleborous.


An unusual discovery was Pyrrhocoris apteris – commonly called the "firebug" near the Chiesetta di San Marco alla Maresana. To be honest, we went to rip ivy off the tree and noticed these insects.

In Italian, this insect is called la cimice rosso nera for it's resemblance to another insect, cimice. Cimice can mean bug (insect and hidden microphone) as well as specifically refer to Palomena prasina – the European shield bug or green stink bug, which is often just referred to as cimice. The emit a pungent odor when squished.


Pyrrhocoris apteris – commonly called the "firebug".Pyrrhocoris apteris – commonly called the "firebug".Pyrrhocoris apteris – commonly called the "firebug".Pyrrhocoris apteris – commonly called the "firebug".
Photos of firebug under ivy leaves.


More Photos



Altar in the Grotta di Rosciano.Garden outside the grotto.Informational sign in the grotto.
Left: Altar in the Grotta di Rosciano.
Center: Garden outside the grotto.
Right: Informational sign in the grotto.

Entrance to the grotto of Rosciano.The entrance to the grotto complex.
Left: Entrance to the grotto of Rosciano.
Right: The entrance to the grotto complex.


The view from the garden northwest.A roadside altar on the way to Maresana.
Left: The view from the garden northwest.
Right: A roadside altar on the way to Maresana.

One of the many trails up to Maresana.Hike statistics.Hike statistics.
Left: One of the many trails up to Maresana.
Center and right: Hike statistics.