Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A Hike from Maresana to Selvino

Hiking route from Maresana to Selvino along trail 533.View of Salmezza from 533.
Left: Hiking route from Maresana to Selvino along trail 533. Right: View of Salmezza from trail 533.


Length: ~14 km (8.7 mi)
Duration: 5 hours one way
Elevation: minimum @Maresana (546 m) (1,790 ft), maximum @ Salmezza 1057 m (3,467 ft), total elevation gain 857 m (2,812 ft)
Location: Italy, Lombardy, Bergamo, Parco dei Colli di Bergamo and north

The Walk

A lot of our hikes start or end on Sentiero - Trail 533. It’s a major hiking trail that’s close Bergamo city center, easy to get to, and from the 533 you can connect up to the larger network of trails. Trail 533 connects Bergamo (Monterosso neighborhood / via Quintino Alto to be exact) to Selvino. We tried a week ago to do the walk but flopped and made it only to Monte di Nese (see A Short Hike from Bergamo to Monte di Nese). This time we got a lift to Maresana to cut the city walking out as well as starting out a little earlier in the day.

Trail 533 is relatively easy to follow. It’s not too steep and a large part of it is under the cover of trees. The trail drops you on the southwest side of Selvino. Once you reach Selvino, there is another kilometer or so to get to the top of the funivia (cable car) to head back to Bergamo. We, fortunately, got picked up by the partner of our hiking companion.

We drove around Selvino looking for a restaurant, which were all inexplicably closed on a Tuesday. We called it quits in Selvino and headed to the Oca Bianca Osteria in Treviolo. Oca is “goose” in Italian, and as you might expect, the menu featured a couple of goose-related dishes. All in all, a delicious dinner in a nice atmosphere made a great way to finish the hike.


You can take the number 6 or 9 bus to Quintino Alto and catch trail 533 from there to start the hike. From Selvino, take the funivia (cable car) to get down to Albino, and from there take the tram back to Bergamo. To get to the Oca Bianca from Bergamo, take a number 5 bus.


During the hike, we saw at least 20 plants we could identify. Among them, the usual suspects (clover, rose, and vetch) as well as four different types of orchids. Feeding on the flowers, we saw  [Zygaenidae] Zygaena filipendulae or the Six-spot Burnet moth, a black and red-colored day-flying moth.

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

[Asteraceae] Arnica montana – Wolf’s Bane, Mountain Arnica (Arnica)
[Apiaceae] Astrantia major – Great Masterwort (Astranzia maggiore)
[Asteraceae] Centaurea montana – Perennial Cornflower (Fiordaliso montano)
[Asteraceae] Cirsium erisithales – Yellow Thistle (Cardo zampo d’orso)
[Campanulaceae] Phyteuma sp. likely scheuchzeri
[Dipsacaceae] Succisa pratensis – Devil’s Bit Scabious (Morso del diavolo)
[Fabiaceae] Lotus corniculatus – Garden Bird’s Foot Trefoil (Ginestrino)
[Fabiaceae] Securigera varia – Purple crownvetch ()
[Fabiaceae] Trifolium rubens – Red Trefoil (Trifoglio rosseggiante)
[Geraniaceae] Geranium sanguineum – Bloody Crane’s Bill Geranium (Geranium sanguineum)
[Lamiaceae] Thymus vulgaris – Common Thyme (Timo commune)
[Liliaceae] Ornithogalum pyrenaicum – Spiked Star of Bethlehem (Latte di gallina dei Pirenei)
[Orchidaceae] Anacamptis pyramidalis – Pyramidal Orchid (Orchide piramide)
[Orchidaceae] Dactylorhiza fuchsii or maculata
[Orchidaceae] Gymnadenia conopsea – Fragrant Orchid (Manina rosea)
[Orchidaceae] Platanthera chlorantha – Greater Butterfly Orchid (Palantera verdastra)
[Plantaginaceae] Plantago media – Lamb’s Tongue (Piantaggine media)
[Rosaceae] Aruncus dioicus – Goatsbeard (Barba di capra)
[Rosaceae] Filipendula vulgaris – Dropwort or Fern-leaf Dropwort Filipendola)
[Rosaceae] Rosa canina – Dog Rose (Rosa selvatica comune)

Anacamptis pyramidalis. Dactylorhiza (either fuchsii or maculata).Gymnadenia conopsea
Orchids along the trail. Left: Anacamptis pyramidalis. Center: Dactylorhiza (either fuchsii or maculata). Right: Gymnadenia conopsea.

Dactylorhiza (either fuchsii or maculata).Dactylorhiza leaves. Platanthera chlorantha
More orchids: Left: Dactylorhiza (either fuchsii or maculata). Center Left: Dactylorhiza leaves. Center right and right: Platanthera chlorantha.

Arnica montana Arnica montanaCirsium erisithales
Left and center: Arnica montana. Right: Cirsium erisithales.

Aruncus dioicusFilipendula vulgaris
Left: Aruncus dioicus. Right: Filipendula vulgaris.

Astrantia majorAstrantia major
Left and right: Astrantia major.

Plantago mediaOrnithogalum pyrenaicum
Left: Plantago media. Right: Ornithogalum pyrenaicum.

Rosa caninaSecurigera varia
Left: Rosa canina. Right: Securigera varia.

Centaurea montanaZygaena filipendulae – Six-spot Burnet feeding on Succisa pratensis. Trifolium rubens
Left: Centaurea montana. Center: Zygaena filipendulae – Six-spot Burnet feeding on Succisa pratensis. Right: Trifolium rubens.

Geranium sanguineumLotus corniculatus
Left: Geranium sanguineum. Right: Lotus corniculatus.

Phyteuma (likely scheuchzeri) Phyteuma (likely scheuchzeri)Thymus vulgaris
Left and center: Phyteuma (likely scheuchzeri). Right: Thymus vulgaris.

Trail 533 - Nearing Salmezza. Trail 533 - Looking northeast over Selvino.
Views of trail 533. Left: Nearing Salmezza. Right: Looking northeast over Selvino.

Trail 533 - A steep part between Monte di Nese and Salmezza. Trail 533 - Near Ca' del Latte heading to Olera.
Views of trail 533. Left: A steep part between Monte di Nese and Salmezza. Right: Near Ca' del Latte heading to Olera.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Bergamo – Street Sign Language Lesson XX

Street Sign Language Lesson 19 < Street Sign Language Lesson 20

Wow! The twentieth installment of Street Sign Language Lessons and I haven't gotten one correction from a native speaker, an Italian teacher, or any one of my 5 readers. I must be doing something right. In this installment, we bounce from omaggio (free gift) to capienza (capacity) to polenta e osei (a local dessert), to a bottle of wine that you might not want to bring to your church potluck. And there is at least one sign featuring dog crap.

Use of the word omaggio.Use of the word omaggio.Free refills.
Left and center: Two uses of the words omaggio. Right: Free refills.

omaggio – "free (gift)"
We were recently in a pharmacy and the woman ringing us up kept using the word omaggio pointing at our tubes of sunscreen. We didn’t recognize the word and just stood there with blank faces. She was trying to tell us that we could buy two, get one free.

Sometimes, it helps to try adding an “h” in front of Italian words starting with “i”, “o”, or “u” to find an equivalent in English. Examples include: iena -> hyena, ormone -> hormone, and umanesimo -> humanism. In this specific example, doing that leads to homage, which omaggio does mean in one sense. However, much more commonly you see omaggio used to refer to something for free, which is not the primary sense of the word in English. Another example is the entry sign at the GAMeC (Galleria d’arte moderna e contemporanea); the sign uses omaggio to indicate that kids under a certain age can enter into the museum free of charge.

Riempi il bicchiere quante volte vuoi – "Fill your glass as many time as you want"
This sentence was on a sign in a restaurant window along the main street leading north from the train station, the kind of place we would never stop at except to admire a sign and note a misspelling (“refil”). The sign addresses the reader informally with the imperative riempi from riempire, the verb to fill or fill up. Even though no possessive is indicated, like “il tuo bicchiere”, it is understood that way.

Capienza or capacità.Rosario nelle case.Cigarettes or crap.
Left: Capienza or capacità. Center: Rosario nelle case. Right: Cigarettes or crap, take your pick.

Si segnala che la capienza del Chiostro di Santa Marta è di 200 persone – "Please note that the capacity of the Santa Marta cloister is 200 people"
When I saw this sign, I wondered what the difference is between capienza and capacità, the latter being what I would have used if someone asked me to create this sign going from English to Italian. Turns out capacità is the more general of the two words. For example, capacity can be the capacity of someone to do something or ability, the capacity of a room, as well as capacity in the electrical sense. Capienza means specifically the capacity of a container or space.

Rosario nelle case – "Rosary in the houses"
In the month of May, the Rosary hits the road in this part of Bergamo, visiting various public and private locations. Two sisters are the hosts for our palazzo, for one night in May. We saw the sisters earlier in the day preparing the cortile where the mass would be held, sweeping, putting out chairs, and arranging plants. They were proud to host the mass.

Posacenere, no cacca di cane – "Ashtray, no dog crap"
What street sign language lesson would be complete without a mention of dog crap? In this case, I would say the former garden sink shown is too good even for cigarettes.

Polenta e osei: the signature dessert of Bergamo.Polenta e osei: the signature dessert of Bergamo.
Polenta e osei: the signature sweet of Bergamo.

Polenta e osei dolce tipico di Bergamo - "Polenta and birds dessert typical of Bergamo"
We first talked about this characteristic sweet of Bergamo back in Bergamo – Street Sign Language Lesson III. This desert appears in many pastry shop windows throughout Bergamo, as shown here, and is considered the simbolo della gastronomia di Bergamo. Personally, I find the dessert too sweet to be enjoyable. I’ll take a salame al cioccolato over polenta e osei any day.

In one of the images, the dessert is described as torta di pan di spagna farcita con crema di nocciole, ricoperta di pasta di mandorle e cioccolato or sponge cake pie filled with hazelnut cream, covered with almond paste and chocolate. The recipe and where you can sell this dessert is well prescribed: you would never find it, say in Florence.

Oṡèi in the Venetian dialect means birds. Is the savory dish that is namespace of the dessert still eaten today? Yes. Tragically, a woman died a few years ago after a small bird bone perforated her esophagus and aorta. The complications from hemorrhaging eventually took her life. Take-away: stick to the sweet version of polenta e osei where the birds are made of chocolate.

A truck for health and safety: antinfortunistico.Pussy wine = tacky.
Left: A truck for health and safety: antinfortunistico. Right: Pussy wine = tacky.

Antinfortunistica – "Health and safety"
We saw this on the side of truck and stopped to ask the owner what it meant. He said it means: health and safety, specifically for work, or occupational health and safety. It's a work not found in all dictionaries. Hoepli.it confirms the definition.

The tricky thing about this word is that you might think it's starts with the prefix "antin". However, it's really "anti" + "infortunistica", and one "i" is dropped. The word ends in "a" (feminine) to agree with the city of Milan (cities are feminine). An example of a masculine use would be abbigliamento antinfortunistico or safety gear.

Il vino della fighetta – "Pussy wine"
We saw this wine in a rest stop on our way to Switzerland. A classy gift to bring to friends hosting us at our final destination in Germany? I think not.

It’s nice the producers provided synonyms so you can keep your conversations fresh. Other words include: topa, pota, fissa, sorca, mussa, ciornia, passera, sticchia, paloma, figa, mona, fessa, pelosa, pacchiu, sorcina, patatina, pisciouttu, pucchiacca, farfallina, ecc. I recognize pota (a word in Bergamasco that has many meanings), passera (bird, sparrow), and figa, which is very close to figo meaning "cool" and I usually end up using the wrong one. The other terms are from dialect around Italy.