Monday, September 5, 2016

Liquore di Achillea erba-rotta

Left: Achillea erba-rotta near Rifugio Questa (Piedmont). Right: 42 days later, liquor of Achillea erba-rotta.
Achillea erba-rotta near Rifugio Questa42 days later, liquor of Achillea erba-rotta

Achillea erba-rotta (simple-leaved milfiol in English and erba rotta in Italiano) is a plant we were introduced to on our hike from Terme di Valdieri to Rifugio Questa. It is found at levels between 2000 – 2800 meters (6,600 – 9,200 ft) and is a endemic to the Alps. Some collecting of reasonable amounts was allowed where we were, and so the Travelmarx Achillea Liquor ™ was born. Very tasty and perfect for after dinner, over ice.

Recipe:
  1. 50 flower heads with stems* of Achillea erba-rotta
  2. Infuse in 500 ml alcohol for 40 days. (at least 95% alcohol)
  3. Filter (through coffee filter).
  4. Make a simple syrup by boiling together 500g filtered water and 500g organic cane sugar, cool.
  5. Combine filtered infusion with cooled simple syrup.
  6. Decant into bottles.
  7. Serve chilled.

* We made one batch with 45 plants and another with 60 plants. The 50 number in step 1 is our suggestion for about the right amount.

Left: Day 1, Achillea in alcohol. Right: Day 7, Achillea in alcohol - very green.
Day 1, Achillea in alcoholDay 7, Achillea in alcohol - very green

Left: Infused alcohol filtered and waiting for mixing with simple syrup. Right: Achillea erba-rotta near Rifugio Questa (Piedmont).
Infused alcohol filtered and waiting for mixing with simple syrupAchillea erba-rotta near Rifugio Questa (Piedmont)

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Hike from Lovere to Rifugio Magnolini

Left: A hiking route from Lovere to Rifugio Magnolini. Right: View of Lago d'Iseo from the trail.
A hiking route from Lovere to Rifugio MagnoliniView of Lago d'Iseo from the trail

Hike Notes

Length: 21.1 km (13.1 miles)
Duration: 3:20 up, 2:15 down
Elevation: 1.743 m (5,719 feet) total elevation gain, max elevation 1.608 m (5,276 feet) @ rifugio L. Magnolini, starting elevation at Lovere 208 m (682 feet)
Location: Italy, Lombardia, Bergamo, Monte Bronzone Lago d’Iseo

Overview

Another in our town-to-country-and-back walks, this time from Lovere, at the top of Lago d’Iseo, up to Rifugio L. Magnolini, and back down to Lovere. After last Sunday’s walk from Albino to Bergamo where we took a sack lunch, we were looking forward to a nice civilized rifugio lunch, and this hike fit the bill. The bus from Bergamo to Lovere took about 1 hour and roundtrip cost about 10 € a person. In Lovere, we followed sentiero 551 up to Locanda ai Ciar and then switched to sentiero 558 up to the rifugio. We followed 551 down from the rifugio back to Lovere. The first part of sentiero 551 goes from raw trail to cobblestone, and roughly paved roads. That said, we recorded a 14.8% average slope in the climb up and in some places it was up to 25%.

At Rifugio Magnolini, we ate a nice brasata e polenta and finished it with a torta al cioccolato.

Left: Start of the hike, Lovere on Lago d'Iseo. Right: Signage for trail 551 on a guardrail with Lago d'Iseo below.
Start of the hike, Lovere on Lago d'IseoSignage for trail 551 on a guardrail with Lago d'Iseo below

Left: Trail 551 on the way to Rifugio Magnolini. Right: The approach to Rifugio Magnolini.
Trail 551 on the way to Rifugio MagnoliniThe approach to Rifugio Magnolini

Some plants along the way to Rifugio Magnolini. Left: Astrantia major. Right: Eupatorium cannabinum.
Astrantia majorEupatorium cannabinum.

Left: Salvia glutinosa. Right: Stachys.
Salvia glutinosaStachys

Rifugio Magnolini lunch. Left: Brasata and polenta. Right: Chocolate cake.
Brasata and polentaChocolate cak

Protected alpine plants sign at Rifugio Magnolini.
Protected alpine plants sign at Rifugio Magnolini

Sunday, August 28, 2016

A Walk from Albino to Bergamo via Monte Misma

Left: The route from Albino to Bergamo. Right: Close to the top of Monte Misma on sentiero 601.
The route from Albino to BergamoClose to the top of Monte Misma on sentiero 601

Panorama from Monte Misma
Panorama from Monte Misma

Hike Notes

Length: 25.6 km (15.9 miles)
Duration: 7 hours and change minus a 15-minute lunch break on Monte Misma
Elevation: 1.646 m (5,400 feet) total elevation gain, minimum and ending elevation in Bergamo 256 m (840 feet), max elevation 1.160 m (3,806 feet) @ Monte Misma, starting elevation at Albino 330 m (1,083 feet)
Location: Italy, Lombardia, Bergamo, Bassa e Media Val Seriana

Overview

I got it in my head that it would be fun to walk from Albino to Bergamo, and so we gave it a try today. I wouldn’t say it was one of our prettier walks/hikes due to disruptive trail work after many trees were uprooted in a recent storm, a thick haze that made all views resemble very smoggy LA day, and the last bit of the walk on surface streets. On the positive side, this walk contained some classic easy hill walking through roccoli, which are so characteristic to this area.

A roccolo is a big trap for birds, usually smaller migratory birds. You might say it’s a bird snare, but snare is a bit of under-powered word to describe these structures. It’s better to describe them as architettura vegetale. Roccoli are built different ways, but commonly are in a circular shape of living material (trees and shrubs) and other materials (wire, poles, netting), built on a hill top. Often, you can tell you are approaching a roccolo if you start seeing signs warning you about hunters and guns. The signs can seem freaky, but to date nothing has ever happened to us even walking straight through roccoli.

There is an interesting article on roccoli published by LAC, a group promoting the abolishing of hunting. Despite advocating for abolishment, the article gives a good summary of the background on roccoli. The idea of creating a roccolo supposedly came to some priests escaping the plague of the XIV century. The priests headed up into the mountains, but once there, they had to eat something and the story goes that they invented the roccolo. The article does go on to describe many of the not-so-nice ways live birds are used to attract other birds into a roccolo. The article describes the etymology of roccolo as coming from Latin “rocolus”, a diminutive of castle, or that roccolo derives from “rotolus” for the circular form.

Part of the walk (sentiero 513) goes through Parco del Monte Bastia e del Roccolo, which is where we saw most of the roccoli. The provincial profile of the park states that there are dozens of roccoli in this zone. The Wikipedia page for the park states that the roccoli are present in large numbers on the ridge from Monte Bastia to Monte del Roccolo because the area is located on a natural terrace overlooking the Bergamo plain and the mouth of the Val Seriana, which is an area of concentrated bird migration.

Panorama of a roccolo in Parco del Monte Bastia e del Roccolo.
Panorama of a roccolo in Parco del Monte Bastia e del Roccolo.

Two other things to point out on the walk are:
  • Pierina Morosini chapel. Pierina Morosini (1931 – 1957) was killed on the trail where the chapel is located, her life cut short by a brutal act. She was later beatified in 1976 and officially blessed in 1987. We encountered this touching little chapel early in the hike.
  • Maria Ausiliatrice del Monte Misma. We got a bit lost around this, for a lack of better word, sanctuary, which occupies the top of a small wooded hill and includes paths and statues honoring Mary Help of Christians and Saint Joseph. (Information in Italian.) From what we could tell, a local man had several sightings of a dove and la Madonna. Then, the man built the sanctuary with guidance from Mary. It was a bit confusing for us to comprehend what we were seeing perhaps because we were sweating profusely from hiking and in need of some water. It’s an example of the interesting things you find in the hills around here.
Left: Pierina Morosini chapel. Center: Statues at Maria Ausiliatrice del Monte Misma. Right: Ex-votos at Maria Ausiliatrice del Monte Misma.
Pierina Morosini chapelStatues at Maria Ausiliatrice del Monte MismaEx-votos at Maria Ausiliatrice del Monte Mism

The steps to recreate this roll-your-own walk are:
  • TEB tram: Take the tram from Bergamo to Albino.
  • Sentiero 511 (Albino - S. Maria del Misma): In Albino, find 511 and start climbing.
  • Sentiero 601 (Bivio Corna Clima, Luzzana - Monte Misma): At intersection with 601, take it to the summit of Misma.
  • Sentiero 539 (Cornale - Monte Misma): Take 529 down from the summit until you hit 513. (We got lost once or twice here, signage was a little spotty.)
  • Sentiero 513 (Tribulina di Gavarno - Valle Rossa – Monticelli)
  • Sentiero 509 (Villa di Serio - Gavarno - Monte Bastia) You’ll have to walk through Gavarno to find 509.

Particularly useful as always is to print out the maps and gpx tracks from the CAI Bergamo, so you can have them handy.

At the end of the mountain walking we were left in Scanzorosciate, a few kilometers from Bergamo, and walked back on streets to Piazzetta del delfino. This part was boring, except for a stop for a much appreciated ghiacciolo (ice pop). Happy walking!

Left: Allium cirrhosum. Center left: Cirsium. Center right: Cyclamen purpurascens. Right: Capanno con sparo - Hunting blind with gunshots.
Allium cirrhosumCirsiumCyclamen purpurascensCapanno con sparo - Hunting blind with gunshots

Left: A sign in Parco del Monte Bastia e del Roccolo pointing out flowers common to this area, vincetossico - Vincetoxicum hirundinariaorchide priamidale - Anacamptis pyramidalisfiordalis di trionfetti - Cyanus triumfettii, and sferracavallo commune - Hippocrepis comosa. Center: Le vie del Misma trails. Right: Graphosoma lineatum - Italian-Striped Bug.
A sign in Parco del Monte Bastia e del Roccolo pointing out flowers common to this areaLe vie del Misma trailsGraphosoma lineatum - Italian-Striped Bug

Left: Azienda Agricola Celinate. Right: Coming down from Monte Misma.
Azienda Agricola CelinateComing down from Monte Misma

Left: View northwest from Monte Bastia toward Nembro. Right: View of Monte Misma from Celinate.
View northwest from Monte Bastia toward NembroView of Monte Misma from Celinate

Views of a roccolo in Monte del Roccolo. Note some artificial trees mixed with living trees.
Views of a roccolo in Monte del Roccolo. Note some artificial trees mixed with living trees.Views of a roccolo in Monte del Roccolo. Note some artificial trees mixed with living trees.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Bergamo – Street Sign Language Lesson XI – Stacca e Attacca

Street Sign Language Lesson 10 < Street Sign Language Lesson 11

Left: A bottle of grappa called Pòta! at Rifugio Cassinelli. Right: Street sign using Pòta.
A bottle of grappa called Pòta! at Rifugio Cassinelli Street sign using Pòta

Pòta! – Hell!
The translation of the catch all Bergamasco word pòta (as an interjection) as hell sort of catches the spirit of the word, but it is much more. The dictionary Vocabolario Bergamasco-Italiano published in 1859 (page 389) defines it as equivalent to the Italian caspita! or diamine! The wikitionary page for pota describes it thoroughly with its different uses as a pause word, an exclamation, a way to express powerlessness, sarcasm, or disapproval.

Here, pota is used in a sign indicating a street under repair in Piazza Pontida, and for the name of a grappa brand. The sign in Piazza Pontida is roughly equivalent to the Italian scusateci per il disagio, ma stiamo lavorando per voi or excuse us for the inconvenience but we are working for you.

Pota, the noun, refers to the female genitalia. I guess the exclamation point is kind of important to know what sense you are using the word?

Left: Stickers to peel off and stick on sale at a newsstand in Bergamo. Right: A polish nun at a newsstand in Bergamo.
Stickers to peel off and stick on sale at a newsstand in Bergamo A polish nun at a newsstand in Bergamo

Stacca e attacca – Peel and stick
Stacca is the second person singular imperative of the verb staccare – to detach, and attacca is the second person singular of the verb attaccare – to attach. The phrase is used to refer to stickers for kids that you can buy at a newsstand.

Related newsstand story: Recently, a Polish nun (polacca) was in front of us at the newsstand near Porto S. Alessandro in Città Alta. She seemed lost and the woman behind the counter was frustrated with what the nun was trying to ask. We stepped in to help, or so we thought. Because she spoke only Polish and we spoke English and Italian, so we waved our arms and tried to communicate. After 10 minutes of going nowhere, we got the bright idea to use our phones to translate. That helped a bit. After another 10 minutes, we learned that the Polish sister was not at all lost, she knew exactly where she wanted to go and she, in fact, seemed frustrated that we were so clueless. And so off she went to the funicular for San Vigilio. In the end, it seemed she had stopped at the newsstand to ask the way to S. Vigilio by trying to point at the S Vigilio castle on a postcard. Alas, the woman running the newsstand thought the nun wanted to buy the postcard. All this to get to my silly alliteration: stacca e attacca, va via la polacca!

A sign warning not to cut below the wire without first talking to the owner.
A polish nun at a newsstand in Bergamo
Attenzione: per il taglio delle piante soto la linea rivolgersi al proprietario – Warning: before cutting the vegetation below the line, check with the owner
We saw this sign on a hike from Nembro to Bergamo. You often see the verb rivolgersi in signs with the sense of to check with or go to someone. Instead of using an imperative form of the verb rivolgiti (you informal), si rivolga (you formal), rivolgetevi (you plural), the infinitive form of the verb is used as is often it is in official settings. For example, you will see the infinitive imperative form when using an ATM.

Beach chair for rent.
Beach chair for rent.
Noleggio sdraio 2€, rivolgersi al bar – Beach chair rentals 2 euros, inquire at the bar
We have our rivolgersi again, but this time it’s to ask about renting a beach chair or sdraio. Sdraiare is to lay down. We saw this notice at the Rifugio Cassinelli on a hike below Pizzo della Presolana. While not on a beach, you might want the chair to spend some time gazing down from the rifugio.

Don't stop under the funivia sign.
Don't stop under the funivia sign
Attenzione funivia, non sostare sotto le funi – Warning, cable car overhead, do not stop below the cables
On a recent hike (Carona to Rifugio Laghi Gemelli), I was struck by the word funi on this sign having never seen it before. Funi is the plural of fune – cable. After a little thought, the word funivia started to make some sense in that it's composed of fune(i) and via – route or way so that funivia is a route on cables.

If the stream rises suddenly, get moving, and don't stop under the funivia either.
If the stream rises suddenly, get moving, and don't stop under the funivia either
Attenzione pericolo, possibilità di onde di piena improvise anche per manovre su opera idrauliche – Danger, possibility of sudden flood also because of maneuvers of the hydraulic operations
On the same hike (Carona to Rifugio Laghi Gemelli), we saw this odd sign As if a sudden wave of water occurring naturally isn’t enough to worry about (such as from a sudden downpour?), this sign suggests that operation of the hydraulic works in the area may also cause a sudden wave of water in the stream.

The sign was just below Lago Gemelli. As explained in La Montagna che Produce - Centrali idroelettriche Valle Brembana (Italian only), the development of the lakes in this area started in the early 20th century as a way to control capacity of the Brembo River and maximize energy production. The linked article suggests that there could be diurnal variations to keep downstream operations supplied with water.

Who doesn't need clips?
Mollette milleusiMollette milleusi
Mollette milleusi – All-purpose clips
Mollette is the plural of molletta, which is the diminutive of molla – spring. Milleusi is 1,000 (mille) uses (usi), multi-use or all-purpose.

Harry Potter latest pre-order.
Harry Potter latest pre-order.
Se prenoti subito la tua copia, con Altafedeltà avrai 15% di sconto. Il libro uscirà il 24 settembre – If you reserve your copy now using the Altafedeltà card, you will have a 15% discount. The book will be released on September 24th
The latest Harry Potter story, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, translates as Harry Potter e la maledizione dell’erede. In this sign for IBS+Libraccio, you can reserve a copy (prenotare) of the book that will be released (uscire) on September 24th, later than the English version release date.