Tuesday, July 7, 2020

A Classic Bergamo Hike: Canto Alto

Hike to Canto Alto tracks and info.View from Canto Alto looking southwest over Sorisole and the back of Bergamo.
Left: Hike to Canto Alto tracks and info. Right: View from Canto Alto looking southwest over Sorisole and the back of Bergamo.


Length: 21 km (13 mi)
Duration: 7.0 hours total, with 1 hour lunch break at Trattoria La Maresana
Elevation: Max elevation at Canto Alto 1,146 m (3,760 ft). Starting elevation 265 m (869 ft) Piazzetta Delfino.
Location: Italy, Lombardy, Bergamo, Parco dei Colli di Bergamo


We did more or less the same hike about four and a half years ago, described here in the post Bergamo to Canto Alto Hike. We repeated the hike as it is a classic hike starting in Bergamo and we needed to break in some new hiking shoes.

Our starting and ending point is the recently renovated Fontana del Delfino and thus the hike takes you from urban to nature with every step, from the cobblestones of via San Tomaso to the dirt trails of Canto Alto. With each step, you leave the city behind. On the CAI web sites, see trail 533 and trail 507.

Once you reach the Quintino Alto neighborhood where trail 533 starts, you are going north for the first ¾ of the hike and then northwest on the last ¼. Upon reaching Maresana, make sure you look for the signs for Cà del Latte. The next stop is Canto Basso, a junction point of several trails, and it’s from here that you have the last push up trail 507 to reach the top of Monte Canto Alto at 1,146 m (3,760 ft). Starting from the Fontan del Delfino at about 291 m (954 ft), that’s a pretty respectable altitude gain of 855 m (2,800 ft).

For our Canto Alto hike in 2015, we took the bus to Quintino Alto because back then it seemed far away, but it only saves 30 minutes walking to get here from our starting point. Plus, who wants to be on a bus during a pandemic? Also, in 2015, we returned through Sorisole and ate at Trattoria Antichi Sapori. This time, from the top of Canto Alto we retraced our steps because our objective was lunch at Trattoria La Maresana, which passed on our way up.


For being so close to Bergamo with heavily trafficked paths, you can still see interesting plants, especially as you approach the highest point of this hike: Canto Alto.

As usual, check out our flora resources page Resources for Identifying Plants around Bergamo and the Travelmarx Pinterest page.

Key: [Family] Genus species – Common name in English (Common name in Italian)

[Adoxacease] Viburnum lantana – Wayfaring Tree (Viburno lantana)
[Adoxacease] Viburnum lantana – Wayfaring Tree (Viburno lantana)

[Anacardiaceae] Cotinus coggygria – European Smoketree (Sommacco selvatico)
[Anacardiaceae] Cotinus coggygria – European Smoketree (Sommacco selvatico)

[Apiaceae] Astrantia major – Great Masterwort (Astrantia maggiore)
[Apiaceae] Astrantia major – Great Masterwort (Astrantia maggiore)

[Asteraceae] Cichorium inthybus – Chicory (Cicoria selvatica)
[Asteraceae] Cichorium inthybus – Chicory (Cicoria selvatica)

[Asteraceae] Cyanus triumfetti – Squarerose Knapweed (Centaurea di Trionfetti)
[Asteraceae] Cyanus triumfetti – Squarerose Knapweed (Centaurea di Trionfetti)

[Campanulaceae] Campanula trachelium – Canterbury Bells (Campanula selvatica)
[Campanulaceae] Campanula trachelium – Canterbury Bells (Campanula selvatica)

[Campanulaceae] Phyteuma scheucherzi – Oxford Rampion (Raponzolo di Scheuchzer)
[Campanulaceae] Phyteuma scheucherzi – Oxford Rampion (Raponzolo di Scheuchzer)[Campanulaceae] Phyteuma scheucherzi – Oxford Rampion (Raponzolo di Scheuchzer)

[Lamiaceae] Betonica officinalis – Common Hedgenettle, Betony, Purple betony (Erba betonica)
[Lamiaceae] Betonica officinalis – Common Hedgenettle, Betony, Purple betony (Erba betonica)

[Lamiaceae] Teucrium chameadrys – Wall Germander (Camedrio comune)
[Lamiaceae] Teucrium chameadrys – Wall Germander (Camedrio comune)

[Plantaginaceae] Veronica sp.
[Plantaginaceae] Veronica sp.

[Rosaceae] Aruncus diocius – Goat’s beard, bride’s feathers (Barba di capra)
[Rosaceae] Aruncus diocius – Goat’s beard, bride’s feathers (Barba di capra)

[Scrophulariaceae] Verbascum nigrum – Dark Mullein (Verbasco nero)
[Scrophulariaceae] Verbascum nigrum – Dark Mullein (Verbasco nero)

Trail Views

Along Trail 533, a view to Olera.
Left: Just below the summit of Canto Alto. Right: Along Trail 533, a view to Olera.

Starting off on the cobblestones of via San Tomaso.A wide trail on the way to Canto Alto.The last bit to reach Canto Alto is steep.
Left: Starting off on the cobblestones of via San Tomaso. Center: A wide trail on the way to Canto Alto. Right: The last bit to reach Canto Alto is steep.

A panorama from Canto Alto looking south - southwest.
A panorama from Canto Alto looking south - southwest.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Bergamo – Street Language Lesson XXXII – Dogs and Virus

previous lesson | this lesson

During the coronavirus pandemic, we couldn’t get out much to go sign hunting, so this series went to the dogs. Now, with restrictions lessened, we can go out more and read signs about dogs! In this episode: please be a good dog owner, don’t touch my flowers, we won’t give up to this virus, and other signs about living with the virus. Keep reading.

Note: Reading through these signs, we are reminded how much Italians like to write in all caps. We discussed this before in the post Lo Stampatello: How Italians Write.

Sign - alla vostra salute

Alla Vostra Salute – È disponible spray alcolico igienizzante senza risciacquo per la pulizia dei manici dei carrelli e dei cestini.
For your health, no-rinse, alcohol spray disinfectant is available for cleaning the handles of shopping carts and baskets.

We really don’t spend that much time in PAM supermarket, and we spend – by far – much more money at our local fruttivendolo. But PAM does have interesting signs like this one.

An interesting note on the name PAM. It is an acronym for più a meno or “more for less”. The company was founded in 1958 in the Veneto.

Sign - obbligatorio indossare la mascherina

È obbligatorio indossare la mascherina.
It is compulsory to wear a mask. (Masks are required.)

There are three characteristic borghi of Bergamo we spend time in: Borgo Pignolo, Borgo Palazzo and Borgo San Caterina. The later, Borgo San Caterina runs northeast and contains a series of mom and pop stores with next to no “chain” store brands. In one of those stores along Borgo San Caterina, we saw this sign. The word in this sign that caught our eye is indossare, a perfectly fine word except people rarely use it when speaking. When talking about “wearing” something the verb portare is often used or the sentence is written in another way, frequently using the verb “to have” avere.

Sign - raccolta tappi sospesa

La sede rimarrà chiusa fino a data da destinarsi. Raccolta tappi sospesa, non lasciateli fuori! This office will remain closed until further notice. Collection of caps has been suspended, do not leave them outside.

Here’s another sign from a store front along Borgo San Caterina. What caught our eye in this sign is the tappi. Tappi are plastic bottle tops. Okay, so why are people collecting them?

That question takes us back to the very first day we landed in Bergamo. The owners of our B&B talked saving plastic caps and then they would be donated. We weren’t clear on where they went or for what cause and we are never organized enough to save them...so we didn’t. Seeing this sign brought on a twinge of guilt that led to a few hours of research.

This was we found out:
  • There are many sites talking about collecting caps, such as GreenMe and MalattieDelSangue. It is a way for organizations to raise money through the sale of the plastic for a good cause. The plastic caps are of a different plastic grade that gets more money per unit weight and therefore making it an easy way to raise money. The idea of collecting caps as a for a good cause almost always come up first searching on the subject of bottle caps so it’s no wonder people would think this is what must be done.
  • We found this fascinating recycling video about the Montello company just outside of Bergamo. In the video, you can see that caps are on bottles! That intrigued us.
  • Moving on, we consulted the guide to recycling in Bergamo and we could not find that it was forbidden to keep caps on plastic bottles. (We also learned that we could put toothpaste tubes in plastic recycle and store receipts do not go in paper recycle. Oops on both counts.)
  • Finally, we found this article from InaBottle magazine suggesting that at one time, the inability of the technologies to deal with caps along with the idea of beging a “good citizen” led to the collection of caps, that is, not letting caps go into the plastic recycle. The article continued on to say that with current technology, caps on bottles was fine. In fact, in the video referenced above, the different types of plastic (caps versus the bottles) sink or float easily in one of the processing steps leading to efficient separation of plastic types. Further, the InaBottle article references a PlasticsNews article that says keeping the caps on helps bottles keep their form through the number of processes they undergo thus helping bottles stay recognizable as such, which aids in better separation of different plastic types.

After all that, our ruling is that you should collect the caps and donate them to a cause if you want. But you should not – and we will not – feel guilty about keeping our caps on when putting plastic bottles in the recycle! (At least here in Bergamo.)

Sign - Mola Mia

#MOLA MIA Never give up!
Non mollare or non cedere would be others way to say this, but mola mia has a ring to it. It is also the name of a campaign https://www.molamia.it/ to raise awareness of community, urging people to never give up. Funds collected from the campaign will be donated to the hospital Papa Giovanni XXIII. This heart sign was seen in the headquarters of CAI Bergamo.

Sign - in sala di attesa

In sala di attesa.
  • Non appena entra in studio, si disinfetti le mani con il gel presente all’ingresso.
  • Parli con il personale rispettando la distanza di sicurezza (almeno 1 mt) o al di là della barriera protettiva posta in zona reception.
  • Le verrà provata la temperatura e qualora fosse superiore a 37 gradi l’appuntamento dovrà essere rimandato.
  • Consegni il modulo di autocertificazione che troverà in allegato (il documento deve essere compilato il giorno stesso dell’appuntamento); qualora non l’avesse fatto, gliene verrà data una copia in studio da copilare.
  • Cerchi, se possibile, di non usare I servizi igienici dello studio.
In the waiting room
  • Upon entering, disinfect your hands with the gel at the entrance.
  • Talk with the staff respecting the safe distance of at least 1 meter or on the other side of the protective barrier in place in reception.
  • You will have your temperature taken and if it is great than 37 degrees, the appointment will be rescheduled.
  • Return the auto-certification module you will find attached (the document must be filled out the same day as the appointment); If it has not been done, you will be given a form to be filled out.
  • If possible, try not to use the bathrooms.

Lots of instructions and all given with formal commands. Parli not parla. Le verrà not ti verrà. Consegni not consegna. Cerchi and not cerca. There is also an interesting use of the conjunction qualora used in conditional sentences. Example: If your temperature is greater than 37 degrees (condition), the appointment will be rescheduled (result). Example: If it (the form) hasn’t been filled out (condition), then you will be given a copy of it to fill out (result). Reference.

Sign - grazie se per educazione

Grazie se per educazone [sic] e igiene farete urinare i vostri cani altrove.
Thanks, for politeness and cleanliness, let your dogs pee somewhere else.

In our humble opinion, this sentence is confusing. It seems like it's missing the word non. Maybe better would have been Grazie se non per educazione e igiene grazie, farete...?  The intent is clear: please make your dogs pee elsewhere. This sign was seen on V. San Lorenzo.

Sign - tu che non vuoi che
Tu che non vuoi che il tuo cane sporchi la tua casa, ricordati che questa porta non è il bagno del tuo animale.
You that don’t want your dog dirtying your house, remember that this door is not your pet’s bathroom.

The only word appearing in lowercase is “è” perhaps because the person didn’t know how to create and upper case È with l’accento grave on the computer? Really, this is the kind of thing we wonder about!

You find in this sign an everyday use of the subjunctive (congiuntivo) mood with the conjugation of the verb sporcare as sporchi and not sporca. Animale here is a bit of a false friend; it should be read as animale domestico or “pet”.

Sign - facciamo bella la citta

Per favore non prendere. Facciamo bella la città.
Please do not take (the flowers). Let’s make our city beautiful.

Fare bella la casa is a phrase often used that means “make a beautiful home”. The use in this sign is similar where facciamo here is used in the sense of “let’s”. When I asked a native Italian speaker about this second sentence, he said rendiamo bella la città would have been better, using the verb rendere.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Translating English Words with the Letter J into Italian – What Happens to the Letter J?

The question

The letter J in Italian, called i lunga, though not part of the Italian alphabet appears frequently enough to make you think it might be. It can appear in:

  • surnames, such as Juliano
  • place names, such as Jesolo (Veneto) and Jesi (Marche)
  • loan words, such as jeans, jujitsu
  • foreign names, such as Johannesburg

The letter J is part of the English alphabet and even if it's not used that often – it’s the fourth least frequently used letter – we would miss its absence. We got to thinking about the letter J when writing or speaking words Italian words like iniezione (injection) or coniugale (conjugal). We wondered how many other English words have a corresponding Italian word have where the letter J is "missing", as well as the state of J in the Italian language.

We started with some commonly used words in English such as project and injection, and checked their Italian equivalents, proggetto and iniezione. But we soon ran out of ideas and turned to the lists you can easily find for words with J, like Scrabbleguru and TheFreeDictionary.

The answer

We are not cunning linguists! Rather, just ordinary folks who like to make lists to help us organize and learn things better, like the Italian language. Our musings here are just that. 

Given that disclaimer, what we found is that there are five translation categories of English words (with J) into Italian, including the “missing” letter J phonetically “substituted” with another letter, “removed” all together or not applicable because the translated word has a different root. Here are the five cases.

Case 1: The Italian word phonetically “replaces” the letter J with the letter I (along with other minor changes). Examples: adjacent => adiacente, conugal => coniugale, injection => iniezione.

Case 2: The Italian word phonetically “replaces” the letter J with the letter G (along with other minor changes). Examples: conjecture => congettura, pajamas => pigiama, project => proggetto.

Case 3: The Italian word has a different word root altogether, they are not cognates. Examples: abject => miserabile, rejection => rifiuta.

Case 4: The word is used as a loan word and there are no changes. Examples: marijuana, ninja, jujistu, and mahjong.

Case 5: The letter J is completely dropped. Example: majestic => maestoso. We could not think of any more examples in this category.

So, what did we learn during this word treasure hunt? Well, we learned a bunch of new words and that’s a good thing. And we learned that while we thought initially case 1 (substitution with letter I) would be common, it really isn’t. In fact, it seems case 2 (transformation of letter J to letter G) is more common. In our admittedly biased and small sample, case 2 is twice as common.

The list

In the list of over 70 words below, keep these points in mind:

  • Each English word includes the letter J at least once.
  • Words are either (n) = noun, (v) = verb, (adj) = adjective or (p) = proper name.
  • We do not list all forms of a word, just one representative example. For example, we have hijack (n), and the other related forms: hijack, hijacked, hijacking, etc. have a similar translation.
  • For Italian translations, we give one of possibly many meanings, selecting the one closest in spelling just for illustration.
  • Just because the Italian word looks like the English word does not mean it has the same etymology; we are just looking at what looks the same.
  • There are many more words falling in case 3 than are shown here, that is, words have a different root and are not cognates.

English word
Italian word
abject (adj)
abjure (v)
adjacent (adj)
adjective (n)
adjust (v)
regolare, aggiustare
bejewel (v)
cajole (v)
conjecture (n)
conjoin (v)
conjugal (adj)
conjunction (n)
conjunctivitis (n)
conjure (v)
far apparire q/c
dejection (n)
ejaculate (v)
eject (v)
enjoin (v)
enjoy (v)
piacere a, divertire a
hijab (n)
hijack (n)
hijinks (n)
injection (n)
injudicious (adj)
sventato, imprudente
injunction (n)
injure (v)
far male
injury (n)
injustice (n)
jaguar (n)
jamb (n)
Japan (p)
jardiniere (n)
jaundice (n)
jazz (n)
jejune (adj)
jewelry (n)
jeopardize (v)
arrischiarare, mettere a rischio
jocose (adj)
giocoso, allegro
jojoba (n)
Joseph (p)
journalist (n)
jubilant (adj)
giubilante, esultante
judicious (adj)
jugular (n)
jujitsu (n)
jujube (n)
junction (m)
mahjong (n)
majestic (adj)
marijuana (n)
majolica (n)
major (n)
maggiore (grado militare)
major (adv)
marjoram (n)
ninja (n)
object (n)
objurgation (n)
duro rimprovero
overjoyed (adj)
pieno di gioia, felicissimo
pajamas (n)
pejorative (adj)
perjury (n)
falso giuramento
prejudice (n)
project (n)
project (v)
projectile (n)
rejection (n)
rejoin (v)
riunire, rispondere
rejuvenate (v)
sojourn (n)
subject (n)
subjective (adj)
subjugate (v)
trajectory (n)