Friday, November 27, 2020

A Walk from Bergamo to Monte Gussa

On the Sentiero Laudato Sii near Astino, Bergamo. Descending the Via Pasqualina Ripa.
Left: On the Sentiero Laudato Sii near Astino, Bergamo.
Right: Descending the Via Pasqualina Ripa.

Monte Gussa has always been that "other" hill in the distance that we would see on our walks around Bergamo but never quite found the time to visit. Well no more. Today, we spent about 3.0 hours (seems like all our recent hikes are about this length) before lunch to visit this minor peak just outside of Bergamo.

Monte Gussa is a 390 m (1,280 ft) peak not far from Bergamo's Upper City – if you are a strong walker. The area is included in the Parco dei Colli di Bergmo, a large park area that encompasses parts of Bergamo and it's surrounding hills. From our usual starting point at more or less Piazzetta Delfino, we calculated about 13.5 km (8.3 miles) roundtrip. (We didn't turn on the tracker until the Borgo Canale.)

To understand the relationship of Monte Gussa to Bergamo, look at the outline of Bergamo with its hills that looking like a spiny crustacean.  These hills are our playground, but for some reason, Monte Gussa eluded us until today. Along the way to Monte Gussa, we saw:


  • In Borgo Canale, the recently restored lavatoio (wash house) that makes one glad to have indoor plumbing and a washing machine!
  • Chiesa di San Martino della Pigrizia where pigrizia ("laziness") doesn't refer to the saint but to a growing capability of the land as described in this Bergamo News article. San Martino (Martin of Tours) is best known for an account where he uses his sword to cut his cloak in two, giving half to a beggar clad only in rags in winter. True to that description this bronze door – and a very pretty one at that – shows that scene.
  • The Laudato Sii Trail. This is a relatively new trail nearby Astino that we think is named after the second encyclical of Pope Francis Laudato si'. The title translates as "praise be to you" usually followed by "my lord". It's an informal imperative using the verb to be (essere) and fully written as "laudato sii". You can truncate the second letter I and substitute an apostrophe. We couldn't find any definitive source to confirm the name, but with the pictures of Saint Francis on the sign, it seems like a logical conclusion that the trail is named for the encyclical.


Happy walking!


On the road to Chiesa di San Martino della Pigrizia.The bronze door of the Chiesa di San Martino della Pigrizia showing the saint giving half his cloak to a beggar.Near Monte Gussa, a patch of Euonymus europaeus commonly called spindle.

Left: On the road to Chiesa di San Martino della Pigrizia.
Center: The bronze door of the Chiesa di San Martino della Pigrizia showing the saint giving half his cloak to a beggar.
Right: Near Monte Gussa, a patch of Euonymus europaeus commonly called spindle.


The start of the walk up Via Salita della Scaletta, near the funicular of the lower city.The last bit of trail before reaching the "peak" of Monte Gussa.The cross at Monte Gussa.

Left: The start of the walk up Via Salita della Scaletta, near the funicular of the lower city.
Center: The last bit of trail before reaching the "peak" of Monte Gussa.
Right: The cross at Monte Gussa.
 


The recently restored wash house on (lavatoio) in Borgo Canale.The sign for the trail Laudato Sii.

Left: The recently restored wash house on (lavatoio) in Borgo Canale.
Right: The sign for the trail Laudato Sii.



A depiction of the spines of the hills of Bergamo along with the tracks for today's walk.The area encompassing the Parco dei Colli di Bergamo.

Left: A depiction of the spines of the hills of Bergamo along with the tracks for today's walk.
Right: The area encompassing the Parco dei Colli di Bergamo.


Viewranger tracks and stats (the tracker was turned on at the 2 km mark).Viewranger tracks and stats (the tracker was turned on at the 2 km mark).

Viewranger tracks and stats (the tracker was turned on at the 2 km mark). We followed the route clockwise.







Thursday, November 26, 2020

Two Hikes in the Hills of Parco dei Colli di Bergamo

View east from Colle di Ranica.Rock art above Via Valle.
Left: View east from Colle di Ranica.
Right: Rock art above Via Valle.

During lockdown and not wanting to travel, we are spending more time exploring the hills north of Bergamo, which can be easily reached by foot from Bergamo (lower and upper city). The two hikes describe here are two such explorations. The hikes unfold between the cities of Bergamo, Torre Boldone, Ranica, and Ponteranica. In the latter three cities, we are in the hills above the city centers.  Most of the hike is within the boundary of the Parco dei Colli di Bergamo, a large natural park that includes the Upper Town of Bergamo and the surrounding hills. For more hikes around Bergamo, see our page Walking and Hiking Around Bergamo.

The maximum altitude reached is 660 m in hike 1 (Sunday) and 726 m in hike 2 (Tuesday), both starting from about 340 m and making for an elevation gain of 320 m / 386 m, or over a 1,000 feet elevation in each case. While not a large elevation gain, these hikes provide a good workout. The climb from Quintino Alto (Monterosso) as well as the climb from San Rocco to Colle di Ranica are brisk and unrelenting.

Both of these hikes took between 3 and 3.5 hours to complete, with few stops. And, both hikes were between 13 and 14 km ( ~ 8.4 miles).  There is an infinite number of walking variations you can devise in the Parco dei Colli di Bergamo because there are trails all over. Think of these two hikes as a starting suggestion.


Viewranger tracks for Sunday hike.Viewranger tracks for Tuesday hike.Colle di Bergamo including Citta Alta and norther of the stadium in the hills around Maresana.

Left and center: Viewranger tracks for Sunday and Tuesday hikes.
Right: Colle di Bergamo including Citta Alta and norther of the stadium in the hills around Maresana.


Of particular interest on the first hike (Sunday) is trail 401 that extends from via delle Delizia and  climbs the ridge of the hill. The ridge has  a series of roccoli, an interesting characteristic of Bergamo and Brescia landscapes not found elsewhere in Italy. Though not in the greatest of shape, the roccoli on this hike give you an idea of how these big bird traps would have functioned.

The definition of a roccolo in Italian is appostamento fisso di uccellagione, con reti verticali collocate in un pergolato a forma di semicerchio o di ferro di cavallo, di solito impiantato in montagna o in zone collinari which translates roughly as "a fixed hunting blind for shooting or snaring birds, with vertical nets placed in a pergola in the shape of a semicircle or horseshoe and usually set up in the mountains or hilly areas".

More specifically, roccoli are situated on ridges or areas that migratory birds are likely to pass over. Inside the roccolo space there is usually a small tower (la rocca from which the word il roccolo derives) where the hunter (il roccolatore) sits and waits. Birds arrive to find food, shelter, and often attracted by the call of other birds in cages (uccelli di richiamo or "decoys"). At an opportune time, the hunter launches a device to scare the birds who during the attempt to flee are ensnared. The device launched is called a spauracchio (a scarecrow) that less like a scarecrow and more like a wicker paddle. It is designed so that when launched form the tower, it can travel through the air and appear as a bird of prey to the other (smaller) birds, which try to flee and get stuck in nets and eventually make there way to the dinner table.

Today, catching birds with roccoli is prohibited except for research purposes. The web site I roccoli e la Val Gandino had some great photos of roccoli.



A tree in Maresana with a little mason work.A tower near Colle di Ranica.Typical signage to watch out for in the Parco dei Colli  di Bergamo.
Left: A tree in Maresana with a little mason work.
Center: A tower near Colle di Ranica.
Right: Typical signage to watch out for in the Parco dei Colli  di Bergamo.


[Asteraceae] Erigeron annuus - Eastern Daisy Fleabane (Cespica annua).[Dennstaedtiaceae] Pteridium aquilinum - Common Bracken (Felce quilina).
Left: [Asteraceae] Erigeron annuus - Eastern Daisy Fleabane (Cespica annua).
Right: [Dennstaedtiaceae] Pteridium aquilinum - Common Bracken (Felce quilina).


Heading up to Colle di Ranica.Above via Valle in Monterosso.
Left: Heading up to Colle di Ranica.
Right: Above via Valle in Monterosso.

A face on the wall on via Valle.A sort-of roccolo on trail 401 in Bergamo - Torre Boldone.
Left: A face on the wall on via Valle.
Right: A sort-of roccolo on trail 401 in Bergamo - Torre Boldone.






Monday, November 23, 2020

Bergamo – Street Sign Language Lesson XXIII – No candles fino al?

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Can we just say that the signs in this installment of Street Sign Language Lesson ™ totally prove the point in the post we wrote several years ago about how much writing in Italy – and by extension signs – is in uppercase. That post was Lo Stampatello: How Italians Write.

In this 23rd installment, we have: four signs related to the coronavirus (closures and forbidden items during the lockdown), a sign for a lost cat (and a plea from its young owner), a sign about a poet incarcerated as an antifascist, a sign advertising what's cooking at Il Coccio, and a sign on a van that takes us on a small diversion to learn about flooring. If this overview hasn't piqued your curiosity: close this window now, click your browser's back button, or go here.


INFORMAZIONE AI NOSTRI CLIENTI – In ottemperanza al DPCM del 3 Novembre 2020

INFORMAZIONE AI NOSTRI CLIENTI – In ottemperanza al DPCM del 3 Novembre 2020 non è temporaneamente consentita la vendita di questa categoria di merceologica.
Information for our customers: In accordance with the Prime Ministerial decree of November 3, 2020, the sale of this product category is temporarily not allowed.

There's a lot to unpack here. DPCM is an acronym for decreto del Presidente del Consiglio dei ministri and is a decree by the Prime Minister of Italy. Here the DPCM in question is that of 3rd of November with its attachments

We know, we should know this cold, but we are a little shaky on our knowledge of how the Italian government works. Here goes an explanation: a decreto (law-decree) is a type of law that the Prime Minister (also know as the premier) can enact that doesn't require legislative approval although that may come later with the Senate – the upper house (Senato della Repubblica) and the Chamber of Deputies – the lower house (Camera dei deputati). Law-decrees are usually used as instruments "in cases of the uttermost need and urgency", as in the cornavirus pandemic. Imagine trying to get laws enacted quickly with 5 or 6 different parties and the law-decree starts to make sense.

So how does this all apply to this Carrefour store suspending the sale of candles and cake decorating items? That's what we were wondering. To the best of our ability in interpreting the DPCM of the 3rd of November, stores in red zones (zone rosse) can only sell essential items that appear in the attachments list (attachment 23). The list is inclusive not exclusive. That is, the items on the list are "essentials" and there is no indication of what can't be sold. Each (chain) store seems to have taken to deciding on what meets the decree as essential, which is a bit arbitrary. In some stores, le candele e i diffusori per ambiente (basically ways to stink up your house with artificial smells) were marked not for sale. Okay, maybe this ban isn't so bad after all.

BAR PERRY: CHIUSO x (ZONA ROSSA) FINO AL? CIAO a TUTTI MÖLA MIA

BAR PERRY: CHIUSO x (ZONA ROSSA) FINO AL? CIAO a TUTTI MÖLA MIA
Bar Perry: (due to red zone restrictions) closed until? Hello everyone and never give up.

X is often written for the preposition per or "for". The question of the day is when will the restrictions be lifted.

COSA BOLLE NEL COCCIO?

COSA BOLLE NEL COCCIO?
What's cooking at Il Coccio?

A coccio is a terracotta / earthenware cooking pot or a fragment or shard of pottery. In our sign here, Il Coccio refers to a trattoria in Bergamo. On the sign advertising the menu of the day, it begins with Cosa bolle nel Coccio?. Bolle comes from the verb bollire – to boil or cook. It's an informal way of saying what's cooking. Here it becomes a pun of what's cooking and what's cooking in the pot.

Food at Il Coccio during this time is for take-away only – like all other restaurants in Bergamo for most of November 2020. 


NO DITTATURA SANITARIA

NO DITTATURA SANITARIA
No health dictatorship.

The side of the Chiesa di San Bernardino in Pignolo is the source of anti-everything graffiti. A while back (see Bergamo – Street Sign Language Lesson XXVI), it was anti-vaccni [sic]. It looks to be the work of the same folks but their spelling has improved during the lockdown!


PER OGNI COSA CHE FINISCE C'È UN NUOVO INIZIO

PER OGNI COSA CHE FINISCE C'È UN NUOVO INIZIO
For every ending, there is a new beginning.

A sign of the times: businesses closing during the pandemic. Here's a sign of one such business on via Santa Caterina that keeps the message positive. The sign continues anche se spesso le chiusure sono dolorose e, qualcosa ha termine nella nostra vita, è sempre una occasione di crescita – which translates approximately as "even if the closures are sad, and something ends in our life, it is always an opportunity for growth". 


INCARCERATO A BERGAMO PER ANTIFASCIMSO

INCARCERATO A BERGAMO PER ANTIFASCIMSO
Imprisoned in Bergamo for being an anti-fascism.

In 1943, the Italian poet Salvatore Quasimodo (1901 – 1968) came to Bergamo from Milan on the invitation of Giacomo Manzù (1908 – 1991). Because Quasimodo didn't respond to a draft card sent by the Repubblica di Salò, he was imprisoned for several months at La Rocca. Quasimodo's poem "Dalla Rocca di Bergamo Alta" records his imprisonment and is inscribed on the shown here outside La Rocca.

In 1959, Quasimodo was awarded a Nobel Prize in Literature.

For a quick read on fascism and the connection to our time, check out the book On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century.

Finally, what does the Repubblica di Salò have to do with this? It was the headquarter of the second and last incarnation of the Italian Fascist state, a sort of last gasp that functioned between September 1943 (when Italy rejected Mussolini and Germany seized control of northern Italy) and April 1945, as the tide turned definitively against the Axis powers in in Italy during WWII.


GATTO SMARRITO

GATTO SMARRITO – Cerco il mio gattino. Si chiama Simon: è bianco, grigio, minuto.
Lost cat. I'm looking for my kitty. His name is Simon: he is white, gray, and small.

This sign was written by a little girl who lost her cat. This sign just warms a cold pandemic and apathetic heart doesn't it? The sign includes what is probably her mom's cell phone. Come home Simon!

For the record: gatto (gatta) is a cat, and it sounds a bit like the French word gâteau. A gattino (gattina) is a kitten. There is a famous 1960 song from Gino Paoli called "La gatta" that starts "C'era una volta una gatta", once upon a time there was a cat. Video


Pavimentazioni f.lli Filisetti. Posa Pavimenti e Rivestimenti – Bettoncini con pompe

Pavimentazioni f.lli Filisetti. Posa Pavimenti e Rivestimenti – Bettoncini con pompe 
Flooring by Brothers Filisetti. Laying of floors and coverings – Cement with pump.


f.lli is a commonly used abbreviation for brothers or fratelli. Posa comes from the verb posare – to lay out. That's all fine and dandy, but the word that caught our attention was bettoncini. When we tried looking it up, we could only find it with one T as betoncino/i. Did they spell it wrong?

The best definition we could find was on an engineering forum: betoncino is a type of cement with aggregates that don't exceed1.5cm, which seems to be used in restoration work on walls. Beyond that, please call f.lli Filisetti for an explanation and spelling. (This surname is one characteristically found in the Bergamasco.)

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Erigeron karvinskianus – A Mexican (Fleabane) in Bergamo


Erigeron karvinskianus on a wall in San Vigilio, Bergamo.Erigeron karvinskianus on a wall in San Vigilio, Bergamo.
Erigeron karvinskianus on a wall in San Vigilio, Bergamo.

We couldn't resist that title. One common name for Erigeron karvinskianus is Mexican fleabane and when there is a cheap play on words, we go for it.


Before researching the true name for this post, we just called this plant a "daisy" and technically that is correct as it is part of the daisy-family (Asteraceae). More specifically though, it's in the genus Erigeron commonly called fleabane from a belief that dried Erigeron genus plants repelled fleas or that the plants were poisonous to fleas. (A ye olde conspiracy that once had a large following?)

The species epithet karvinskianus honors Wilhelm Friedrich Karwinski von Karwin (1780 – 1855), a Bavarian naturalist who was reported to have collected the plant in Mexico, one of it's native distribution areas along with the Central Americas and northern parts of South America.

Where we really notice E. karvinskianus is on walls – as in these photos taken in San Vigilio, Bergamo. This daisy blooms throughout a good part of the year and provides a welcome splash of color with the white of new flowers and the purple of older flowers.


Asplenium ceterach – Rustyback Fern

Asplenium cetarach botanical drawing (www.biolib.de).Photo of Asplenium cetarach on a wall in Bergamo.Photo of Asplenium cetarach on a wall in Bergamo.Photo of Asplenium cetarach on a wall in Bergamo.
Left: Asplenium cetarach botanical drawing (www.biolib.de).
Center and right: Photos of Asplenium cetarach on a wall in Bergamo.

The upside of the coronavirus lockdown (November 2020 edition) is that we've spent more time walking and exploring parts of Bergamo we usually don't. Case in point, we found ourselves on the Scaletta Scorlazzino, a beautiful and long stair climb up the southern slopes below Via Sudorno. On these sun-exposed walls we ran into Asplenium ceterach, commonly known as the Rustyback fern, another good candidate for a "wall plants of Bergamo" post.

Unlike many other ferns, A. ceterach likes sun and requires little humidity. The Rustyback fern is also known "as a resurrection plant due to its ability to withstand desiccation and subsequently recover on rewetting."[ref] That's an apt metaphor for the on and off again lockdowns and looking forward to getting through this pandemic intact.

The family Aspleniaceae (recall the taxonomy: kingdom, clade, class, order, suborder, family, genus, species) is a family of ferns called spleenworts for their approximate resemblance to spleens. In two previous posts we talked about two other wall-loving ferns in this family: Asplenium ruta-muraria and Asplenium tichomanes, that both look similar to A. ceterach.

Rustyback is found in Western and Central Europe, including the Mediterranean region. It is commonly found growing in fissures in limestone and dolomite rock and on the mortar of stone and brick walls, as in these photos. The English common name Rustyback – according to Wikipedia – is due to the orange-brown hairs (trichomes) on the backside of the fronds.

In Italian, this fern is called la cedracca. According to Treccani, this Italian word derives ultimately from the Persian word shītarak.


A photo of Asplenium cetarach on a sunny wall of the Scaletta Scorlazzino in Bergamo.The underside of the an A. cetarach frond.
Left: A photo of Asplenium cetarach on a sunny wall of the Scaletta Scorlazzino in Bergamo.
Right: The underside of the an A. cetarach frond.