Monday, June 10, 2024

Bergamo Street Sign Language Lesson XLV

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After many years here in Italy, you'd think we'd understand all the signs we see. But alas that is not the case. Here are eight more signs we were either stumped by totally, didn't understand or in one case liked the words used.

“Caution! Alternating (one-way) pedestrian walkway.”

It’s on a street blocked for traffic but allowing pedestrians to pass. The pedestrian area is narrow, and the idea is that you might have to (should?) wait if you see pedestrians coming the other way. We put the “one-way” in parentheses because it is implied but not in the original phrase.

“Reduced mowing area.”

We saw this sign on the base of the Bergamo walls along via delle Tre Armi. The sign talks about the benefits of reduced mowing in parks or public spaces. In areas where the grass is intentionally kept longer there are environmental benefits such as increased biodiversity, better absorption of water in the ground, and reduced energy to keep the grass short.

sfalcio is a swath or line of mowed crops (or grass in this case). a sfalcio refers to the action take on the grass, mowing.

“It (the pool) is used exclusively for livestock watering.”

The word that caught my eye was ADIBITA because I never saw it before. Adibire means to “assign or designate”. From there, we went down a rabbit hole:

Abbeverare = to provide water for
Abbeveratoio = watering trough
Abbeveraggio = watering livestock, used in legal sense
Abbeveramento = the act of watering livestock (or is it livestock watering?)

We saw this sign on A Hike from Botta di Sedrina to Canto Alto. We wished we had just walked on by.

“The amphibians.”

Singular is anfibio and plural drops the letter O. Here’s a case where the Italian word for something is shorter than the English word. We also saw this sign on A Hike from Botta di Sedrina to Canto Alto.

“Catch and release.”

We had a Sunday lunch recently in the province of Parma at Trattoria Laghi Verdi, sitting as you might have guessed from the name on “green lakes” (more like ponds). These lakes look to have been artificially created and perfect for catfish, or in Italian pesce gatto, the specialty of the trattoria. We saw this sign on the edge of one of the lakes.

Prendi comes from the verb prendere and molla from the verb mollare. What we can’t decide is if this is an informal command (prendi/molla) or a crystallized phrase that doesn’t have anything to do with imperatives. Four simple words but endless questions.

P.P. | P.C.
P.P. | P.C.
“Private property | driveway”

Italians love acronyms. It took way too long to figure out that P.C. means passo carraio or more often written out fully as carrabile, which means “driveway”. Carraio is an adjective meaning “for cars”.

This "sign" was spotted outside a residential building where someone felt the need to distinguish between these two categories. Maybe it's a right of way spat? At first, we thought P.C. meant common property as in proprietà comunale in parallel with P.P. for proprietà privata.


Foratura = the act of making a hole or puncture
Foro = hole, puncture, from the verb forare
Buco = hole, keyhole

“That melts in your mouth”

PORCOBRADO is a brand of pork. The name plays with the idea of wild or untamed brado and pork porco. This sign was seen in a supermarket where you could buy a sandwich made with this pork. We were intrigued by the phrase “CHE SI SCIOGLIE IN BOCCA” and thinking about how it should be pronounced with one of those deep resonant radio voices. Sciogliere is the verb to melt.

Saturday, June 8, 2024

Bergamo Wall Plant - False Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides)

 False jasmine on via Osmano in Bergamo False jasmine flowers
Left: False jasmine decorates a door on via Sudorno in Bergamo.
Center: False jasmine on via Osmano in Bergamo.
Right: Jasmine flowers.

This plant is the quintessential Italian outdoor plant (beside ivy). It’s often grown on fences and supports so it’s a stretch to say it’s a wall plant. But it feels right to include it as a wall plant. Around the start of May in Bergamo you start to smell false jasmine everywhere you go. It then fades later seamlessly in the start of June with tiglio (linden), which has a similar scent.

False jasmine is Trachelospermum (syn. Rhyncospermum) jasminoides, a plant in the Apocynaceae (dogbane family) family.

A list of our wall plants we've seen in Bergamo thus far:

  • [Apocynaceae] Trachelospermum jasiminoides - False jasmine
  • [Caprifoliaceae] Valeriana rubra – Red valerian
  • [Papavero] Papaver rhoeas (post) – Common poppy
  • [Campanulaceae] Campanula poscharskyana (post) – Serbian Bellflower
  • [Plantaginaceae] Antirrhinum majus (post) – Common Snapdragon
  • [Crassulaceae[ Sedum palmeri (post)
  • [Crassulaceae] Sedum album and Sedum dasyphyllum (post) – White Stonecrop and Corsican Stonecrop
  • [Papavero] Fumaria officinalis (post) – Earth Smoke
  • [Brassicaceae] Aubrieta deltoidea - Purple Rock Cress and Iberis sempervirens – Evergreen Candytuft (post)
  • [Geraniaceae] Geranium robertianum (post) – Stinking Bob
  • [Asteraceae] Erigeron karvinskianus (post) – Mexican Fleabane
  • [Aspleniaceae] Asplenium ceterach (post) – Rustyback Fern
  • [Aspleniaceae] Asplenium ruta-muraria (post) – Wall Rue
  • [Aspleniaceae] Asplenium trichomanes (post) – Maidenhair spleenwort
  • [Urticaceae] Parietaria diffusa (post) – Pellitory
  • [Plantaginaceae] Cymbalaria muralis (post) – Pennywort

False jasmine on via Sudorno in Bergamo False jasmine flowers False jasmine on a wall on V.le V. Emanuele II in Bergamo
Left: False jasmine on via Sudorno in Bergamo
Center: False jasmine flowers.
Right: False jasmine on a wall on V.le V. Emanuele II in Bergamo.

False jasmine on V.le V. Emanuele II in Bergamo
False jasmine on V.le V. Emanuele II in Bergamo.

Friday, June 7, 2024

Album Covers With Outstretched Arms on Them

mosaic of 16 music album covers with outstretched arms
A mosaic of 16 music album covers with outstretched arms.

Outstretched arms on music album covers are few – that we could find, and we go through a lot of album covers. The meaning can be welcoming and open, powerful and confident, or often spiritual. Many of the outstretched arms are isolated in that they we don’t see the owner of the arms, which looks a little creepy.

The Hold Steady  "Heaven is Whenever" (2010)
Nocturnal Rage  "Way Out of Your Mind...And Your Body’s the Mission" (2005)
Jaguar Jaguar  "So Long" (2018)
Camille  "Music Hole" (2008)

Spiritualized  "Amazing Grace" (2003)
Boney James  "Trust" (1992)
Francis and the Lights  "Just for Us" (2017)
Sure Sure  "Sure Sure" (2018)

Jeff Tweedy  "Warm" (2018)
Phoenix  "United" (2000)
Funkadelic  "Free Your Mind and Your Ass Will Follow" (1970)

Supertramp  "Breakfast in America" (1979)
Spoon  "Kill the Moonlight" (2002)
Low  "Trust" (2002)
Ultravox  "The Thin Wall" (1981)

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

A Loop Hike in Valzurio: Baita Moschel to Rifugio Rino Olmo and Back

Trail 320 below Rifugio Rino Olmo View north from Trail 320 - toward Monte Ferrante Tracks for Valzurio hike
Left: Trail 320 below Rifugio Rino Olmo.
Center: Trail 320 looking north toward Monte Ferrante.
Right: The tracks and elevation profile for this hike.


Duration: 3 hours (walking time)
Elevation: 688 m
Length: 10 km
Location: Italy, Lombardy, Bergamo, Val Seriana


(We did this hike at the end of April 2024, and we are just getting around to writing about it.)

We were last in this area in November 2022 (see A Sunday Hike in Valzurio, Val Seriana). This time we arrived in a friend’s jeep past where we ended the 2022 hike and then started hiking. Honestly, it felt a little indulgent. We parked more or less where there are a series of small waterfalls called the Marmitte dei Giganti (here).

The first time we were in this area was in July 2018 when we passed just above the Baite del Möschel; we were finishing our 7-day hike: Seven Days on the Sentiero delle Orobie – A Journey Through the Bergamo Alps.

On this hike, we followed the trails 311, 311A, and 320. These links to the CAI web site are useful as well as the overall Geoportale (look for "mappe") page for seeing all the trails.

Finally, we had a quick lunch at Rifugio Rino Olm and then stopped and had a coffee at Baita Bruseda where we met a guy renting part of the baita.


[Family] Genus species – {Common names in English; Italian}

[Asteraceae] Tossilago farfara – {Coltsfoot; Tossilaggine comune}
[Asteraceae] Tossilago farfara [Asteraceae] Tossilago farfara

[Asparagaceae] Scilla bifora – {Alpine squill; Scilla silvestre} (white and violet-blue)
[Asparagaceae] Scilla bifora (white) [Asparagaceae] Scilla bifora 

[Boraginaceae] Pulmonaria sp. - {Lungwort; Polmonaria}
[Boraginaceae] Pulmonaria sp. 

[Brassicaceae] Draba aizoides - {Yellow Whitlow Grass; Draba aizoide}
[Brassicaceae] Draba aizoides [Brassicaceae] Draba aizoides

[Pinaceae] Larix decidua - {European Larch; Larice comune}
[Pinaceae] Larix decidua

[Ranunculaceae] Helleborus niger – {Christmas Rose; Rosa di natale}
[Ranunculaceae] Helleborus niger 

[Ranunculaceae] Helleborus viridis – {Green Hellebore; Elleboro verde}
[Ranunculaceae] Helleborus viridis


A cold house along trail 320. Baita Bruseda 1499 m
Left: The Selter Ruí - a cold room in Valzurio.
Right: Baita Bruseda at 1499 m.

The Selter Ruí (or "cold hole") was once used as a storage and conservation area for dairy products coming from the Alpine huts further up the mountain. "This was due to the cold air currents: in winter air rises in the ground, that freezes, and in summer the air falls and cools down". "At the mouth of one of these outlets of frozen air our farmers built a small room where milk and cheese could be kept in the cool" (Rocco Zambelli from "La Valzurio", 1987) The small rectangular-shaped basement room has boulders leaning against a paleolandslide (rui-rovina), and features a barrel vault (hence the name selter).

Coming down from Rifugio Rino Olmo The meadow below Baita Bruseda - along trail 320
Left: Coming down from Rifugio Rino Olmo along trail 320, view west.
Right: The meadow below Baita Bruseda - along trail 320.

Marmitte dei Giganti in Valzurio View from trail 320 looking down Valzurio
Left: Marmitte dei Giganti in Valzurio.
Right: View from trail 320 looking down Valzurio.