Saturday, April 29, 2017

Hike: Cattedrale Vegetale to Capanna 2000

Hiking route from Cattedrale Vegetale to Capanna 2000.Descending from Capanna 2000 in snow and Cima Menna in the background.
Left: Hiking route from Cattedrale Vegetale to Capanna 2000. Right: Descending from Capanna 2000 in snow and Cima Menna in the background. 


Length: 8 km
Duration: 3:50 hh:mm
Elevation: Lowest point parking just above Plassa @ 1200 m (3739 ft), highest point Rifugio Capanna @ 1969 m (6460 ft)
Location: Italy, Lombardy, Bergamo, Val Brembana, Alpe Arera

Getting There

A car is really the easiest to get to this hike; we went with our friends who have a car. Blanche Dubois said “Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”

We researched buses and it looks like it is possible to get from Bergamo to Zambla Alta, but choices are limited. From Zambla Alta you’d have to walk a fair bit up the main road to get to the Cattedrale Vegetale.

The Walk

I've wanted to see the Cattedrale Vegetale ever since I heard about it a year ago. Some hike-minded friends decided to take us to see it (maybe to shut me up) and then continue on to Capanna 2000 for lunch. As it had just snowed a few days earlier (a bit late in the season), we were looking forward to time in the snow and we weren’t disappointed.

Along the way, we stopped for espresso at the Rifugio Ca' d'Arera S.A.B.A or Società Alpinistica Bergamo Alta. As the crow flies, Bergama Alta is only 25 km (16 miles) away, though driving there is about 45 km (28 miles) following the contours of the Val Seriana and Val di Riso. Passing over the Colle di Zambla takes you from Val Seriana to Val Brembana.

Capanna 2000 is at 1969 m, a few meters shy of 2000 m. Capanna translates as shack or cabin, but it’s a nice rifugio to grab a bite to eat. And eat too much we did, but it was good.

The Cattedrale Vegetale is a “land art” or “natural art” project by Giuliano Mauri (1938 – 2009). It consists of 5 naves and 42 columns arranged as you might expect in a cathedral, except this cathedral is open to the world and each column is hollow and made of a mesh of intertwined wood poles and branches. A beech tree is growing in the center of each column. The idea is that after 20 years, the (dead) wooden structure of the columns decays and gives way to the live tree that has grown up to fill in the column. Nature taking over, but keeping the form that man created. Despite some of the problems such as dead or slow growing trees (as reported here in Italian), the idea is cool and we like it. Our hiking mates (locals) thought it was frivolous. There are two other cathedrals by Mauri: one in Lodi and one in Malga Costa.

From the Cattedrale Vegetale to Capanna 2000 was pretty straightforward. You are still on road for a while, which was a little annoying. We were told that the paving was a relatively recent addition. Even after Rifugio Ca' d'Arera S.A.B.A, there are parts of the trail that are paved. The more interesting hiking starts after Capanna 2000 to the top of Arera, but that wasn’t on our radar today.

While walking up to Capanna 2000, we came across old mines and heaps of rocks dug out of the earth. Zinc was extracted in the area between Gorno and Oltre il Colle until it was decided in 1982 to import the mineral instead. The abandoned mines – 250 km worth of tunnels – are now being investigated and expanded by the Australian firm, Energia Minerals, for zinc, lead, and silver. It is predicted that the three largest zinc extraction sites in the world will soon be exhausted and this area in Bergamo will become a gold mine.


Here are a few of the plants we saw today. For more information about identifying plants, see Resources for Identifying Plants around Bergamo.

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

[Asteraceae] Petasites hybridus – {Butterbur, Pestilence Wort; Farfaraccio maggiore}
[Boraginaceae] Pulmonaria sp. – { Lungwort; Polmaria}
[Brassicaceae] Cardamine bulbifera – {Coralroot Bittercress; Dentaria minore con bulbilli ascellari}
[Ericaceae] Erica carnea – {Winter Heath; Erica carnicina}
[Fabaceae] Hippocrepis comosa – {Horseshoe Vetch; Sferracavallo commune}
[Gentianaceae] Gentiana clusii – {Clusius’ Gentian; Genziana di Clusius}
[Gentianaceae] Gentiana verna – {Spring Gentian; Genziana primaverile, genzianella di primavera}
[Liliaceae] Scilla bifolia – {Alpine Squill; Scilla silvestre}
[Ranunculaceae] Anemone nemorosa – {European Wood Anemone; Anemone del boschi}
[Pinaceae] Pinus mugo – {Creeping pine, mountain pine; Pino mugo}
[Ranunculaceae] Helleborus viridis – {Green Hellebore; Elleboro verde}
[Rosaceae] Potentilla sp. – {Cinquefoil}
[Caprifoliaceae] Valeriana sp.

Photo of the column structures of the Cattedrale Vegetale (Oltre Il Cole).
Two photos of the column structures of the Cattedrale Vegetale (Oltre Il Colle).

Cattedrale Vegetale (Oltre Il Cole) with Zambla Bassa in the background.View of Cattedrale Vegetale (Oltre Il Cole) with Monte Alben in background.
Left: Cattedrale Vegetale (Oltre Il Colle) with Zambla Bassa in the background. Right: View of Cattedrale Vegetale (Oltre Il Colle) with Monte Alben in background.

Erica carnea and Gentiana.Erica carnea.Erica carnea and rock pile from mining, Grem in the background.
Shots of the pasture below Capanna 2000. Erica carnea and Gentiana and rock pile from mining operations.

Photo of [Gentianaceae] Gentiana clusii.Photo of [Gentianaceae] Gentiana clusii.
Two photos of [Gentianaceae] Gentiana clusii – {Clusius’ Gentian; Genziana di Clusius} below Capanna 2000.

Photo of [Gentianaceae] Gentiana verna.Photo of [Gentianaceae] Gentiana verna.
Two photos of [Gentianaceae] Gentiana verna – {Spring Gentian; Genziana primaverile, genzianella di primavera} below Capanna 2000.

[Fabaceae] Hippocrepis comosa.[Asteracease] Petasites hybridus.[Pinaceae] Pinus mugo.
Left: [Fabaceae] Hippocrepis comosa – {Horseshoe Vetch; Sferracavallo commune}. Center: [Asteracease] Petasites hybridus – {Butterbur, Pestilence Wort; Farfaraccio maggiore}. Right: [Pinaceae] Pinus mugo – {Creeping pine, mountain pine; Pino mugo}.

[Brassicaceae] Cardamine bulbifera.[Rosaceae] Potentilla sp.
Plants seen in area below Capanna 2000. Left: [Brassicaceae] Cardamine bulbifera. Right: [Rosaceae] Potentilla sp.

[Boraginaceae] Pulmonaria sp.[Caprifoliaceae] Valeriana sp.
Plants seen in area below Capanna 2000. Left: [Boraginaceae] Pulmonaria sp. Right: [Caprifoliaceae] Valeriana sp.

Food at Capanna 2000. Left: Pizzoccheri. Center left: Stinco di maiale. Center right: Strudel di mele. Right: Amaro Bràulio.

View from below Capanna 2000 to Grem.View up to Arera.View south to Monte Alben.
Views along the hike. Left: Grem. Center: Arera. Right: Monte Alben.

Sign board talking about "Il sentiero dei fiori" - flower walk.Sign board talking about "Il sentiero dei fiori" - flower walk.
Two sign boards talking about "Il sentiero dei fiori" - flower walk.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Bergamo – Street Sign Language Lesson XVIII

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In this episode of street sign language lesson, we will see a number of interesting food choices, final rebates, pesky body-part pluralization, and information about how to keep your hands clean in the hospital. Oh, make it stop.

Package sent in Italy with sender or mittente written.Foiolo - a type of tripe.Cartilage for eating.A sign reminding us to keep the toilet clean.
Words around Bergamo. Left: A package sender. Center left: A type of tripe. Center right: Cartilage. Right: Leave the toilet clean sign.

Alto, fragile, mittente – “Up, fragile, sender”
When we received this package, I realized I had never seen “sender” written in Italian, on a package. So, there you have it: mittente.

Foiolo fresco, nervetti – “Fresh omasum, cartilage”
For these two signs we go back to our favorite butcher (Macelleria Coffetti on via Masone) and favorite cheese shop (Ol Formager on via San Tomaso) to peruse the offerings. Omasum is the third compartment of the stomach of ruminants, in this case cow stomach. It’s a type of tripe. Cartilage would be pig cartilage and it makes a lovely salad…they say. Have yet to try it, but would like to.

Trovare pulito è un piacere; lasciare pulito è un dovere – Finding it clean is a pleasure; leaving it clean is a must.
This was sign was in the Biblioteca Angela Mai in Città Alta. "It" is the toilet. This library is the best place to study, and the toilet is reasonably clean thanks to this sign.

Papa Giovanni XXIII signs instructing on how to clean your hands.Papa Giovanni XXIII signs instructing on how to clean your hands.
Papa Giovanni XXIII signs instructing on how to clean your hands.

Come frizionare le mani con soluzione alcolica; come lavarsi le mani; l’igiene delle mani salva la vita – “How to rub your hands with alcohol solution; how to wash your hands; hand hygiene saves lives”
Recently we had occasion to be in the main hospital in Bergamo (Ospedale Papa Giovanni XXIII) for several days in a row. There are a thousand and one signs dealing with how to correctly clean your hands. Hands (la mano, le mani) is one of the body-part nouns that is unusual. Usually, nouns ending in “o” and plural ending in “i” are masculine, but not in this case.
Aside: Ospedale Papa Giovanni XXIII is like a mini-city. You could spend the day roaming around. Every time we go there we either meet people we know, or, later we get a text message that says: ‘hey, saw you in the hospital, what’s up?’

A sign in Bergamo anouncing a recent death.Ol Formager stracchino cheese.Get your eyelashes and eyebrows worked on here.Final rebates.
Signs around Bergamo: Left: mourning. Center left: stracchino cheese. Center right: eyelash and eyebrow work. Right: Final rebates.

Lutto per la morte di…. – “mourning the death of…”
Lutto (mourning) is not to be confused with lotto (game of fortune), though some might see some connection between the two. This sign was posted on via Pignolo outside the apartment of the deceased. Public death notices are common in Italy. In many small towns, there are almost always public bulletin boards containing death notices.

Another “interesting” word in this sign is the word for corpse or body, la salma. In this case, the body is at Ospedale Papa Giovanni XXIII - like I said, everything happens there.

Stracchino – “stracchino”
How’s that for a translation? Lo stracchino is a type of cheese common in Lombardy. The guy at our favorite cheese shop (Ol Formager on via San Tomaso) said that it’s basically taleggio (it’s internationally famous cousin) without all the fancy branding. The word stracchino derives from dialect meaning tired (in Italian: stanche) owing to the fact that the cheese is made from cows coming down from high summer pastures. The cows at that time produce less milk, but with qualities that make this cheese taste so darn good.

Sguardo perfetto – “perfect look”
Want the perfect look? Go to this salon on via Pignolo where you can get work done on your eyelashes (ciglia) and eyebrows (sopracciglia). Eyelashes and eyebrows are another body part that doesn’t follow the standard male-female gender rules. These words change gender when plural: eyelash (il ciglio), eyelashes (le ciglia), eyebrow (il sopracciglio), and eyebrows (le sopracciglia). That said, ciglio, when used in other senses is pluralized as expected. For example, i cigli della strada is the “sides of the road”. And, you will see sopracciglio pluralized as expected when referring to the eyebrows collectively as in entrambi ai sopraccigli or “between the eyebrows”.

Ultimi ribassi – “final rebates”
Ultimo has a number of senses, here I think it means less “recent” and more “final”.

Sign warning you about slippery stairs.Sign warning you about entering the hospital with a covered face.
Signs warning you about slippery stairs and entering the hospital with your face covered.

Per motivi di sicurezza usufruire delle scale interne – "for security reasons, use the internal stairs"
This sign was at the recently completed University of Bergamo building on via Pignolo. It had just snowed a little and as pretty as the new external stairs were, they were too slippery to walk on. I like the verb usufruire: in its basic sense it means “use”, but in its more elegant sense it means “to avail yourself of”.

Per ragioni di sicurezza è vietato l’ingresso con volto coperto – For security reasons, it is forbidden to enter with your face covered.
While motivi di sicurezza was “safety reasons” above, ragioni di sicurezza here becomes “security reasons”. This sign was seen at the entrance to Ospedale Papa Giovanni XXIII.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Bergamo – Street Sign Language Lesson XVII

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From the 1971 hit Signs: “Signs signs, everywhere there's signs: blockin’ the scenery, breaking my mind. Do this, don't do that. Can't you read the sign?” In this installment will learn an Italian proverb, a type of Italian hunting, and a lot about bureaucratic speak. Psyched?

Bergamo sign: Tu chiedi e io dipingo!Bergamo sign: Egregio Signore, parking.Bergamo sign: Vietato fumare.
Bergamo shops and signs. Left: Tu chiedi e io dipingo! Center: Egregio Signore. Right: Vietato fumare.

Tu chiedi e io dipingo – “You ask and I paint”
Finally, a sign I can understand without reaching for a dictionary. Chiedere is “to ask” and dipingere to paint. This shop was on via Tomaso and it would seem you could have customized the type of painting you buy, however, the shop has recently gone out of business or moved. Non stavi chiedendo e me ne sono andato – “you weren’t asking and I left”?

Egregio Signore: Lei ha parcheggiato la sua autovettura in zone dove vige il divieto di fermata con rimozione forzata – “You have parked your vehicle in a no-stopping, tow away zone”
My moment of patting my own back with tu chiedi e io dipingo ended abruptly when I found this sign, which had me scratching my head and reaching for a dictionary.

The sentence is formal, addressing the driver with respect, Lei, rather than using a “hey you" tone, which would be tu hai parcheggiato. The verb vigere (vige) is “to be active or in force”. Autovettura is “vehicle”, though many dictionaries like to translate as automobile or car. I’m guessing that parking violations happen often where this photo was taken in front of the university, and the sign is a template that can be printed out and applied to vehicles of all types. Rimozione forzata is “forced removal”, but given the sense of the sentence it is better thought of as a tow away zone.

Vietato fumare. Esteso alle sigarette elettroniche – "No smoking, including electronic cigarettes"
Electronic cigarettes can be called sigarette electtroniche, dispositive elettronici di somministrazione di nicotina, e-cigarette, or just e-cig. However, you call it, you can’t vape (svapare) where this sign was photographed in the library. You can still vape in other indoor public locations.

A person who uses electronic cigarettes is a svapatore. As explained by the Accademia della Crusca, like in English where we use “vape” instead of “smoke”, Italians uses svapare (to vape) instead of fumare (to smoke).

T-shirt shop: commentary on some marriages.Don't stalk animals here.Get your fresh goat here.
Bergamo shops and signs. Left: commentary on some marriages. Center: No hunting. Right: Fresh baby goat.

Alcuni matrimoni finiscono bene, altri durano tutta la vita – "Some marriages end well, others last a life time"
Okay, back to the simple sentences. This was seen in a t-shirt shop in Città Alta. This reminds me of a proverb I heard the other day when a husband and wife (where we bring our dry cleaning) were arguing and a bystander said to me: tra moglie e marito non mettere il dito, literally, don’t put your finger between a wife and husband, or better yet, don’t get involved in their affairs.

Divieto di caccia vagante – "Stalking/tracking hunting prohibited"
I saw this sign on via Baioni, a stone’s throw from Città Alta. First, I wondered why there would be a no hunting sign in the city (or at least what I consider the city). Second, I didn’t know what caccia vagante meant. The nearest I can tell its hunting by roaming or wandering an area, a combination between stalking and tracking targeted prey, with or without dogs. Caccia vagante seems to be one of the most common and enjoyable ways to hunt, according to the site Caccia Passione (Hunting Passion), and they know what they are talking about!

Capretto fresco, per Natale si prenotano: tacchine, capponi, capretti e agnelli freschi e nostrani – “Fresh young goat, for Christmas you can reserve: turkeys, capons, young goats and lambs, fresh and home-grown”
While not exactly on the same level as caccia vagante, we do like wandering into this butcher shop on via Masone because the guy is so friendly, and we can learn a lot about meat. We didn’t end up getting any of the above-mentioned Christmas specials, but I was left wondering why the sign uses tacchine and not tacchini, the normal plural of turkey. Also, nostrano is a word you see a lot when referring to meat and produce meaning "locally grown."

Sign for removing pigeons.Sign about not removing dog crap.
Left: Anti-pigeon. Right: Anti-forgotten dog crap.

Avviso ai condomini…verrà effettuato l’intervento di allontanamente volatile – “Notice to condominium owners…there will be an intervention to install a pigeon removal system”
While on the subject of hunting and meat, we now move to pigeons. This sign appeared in the common area of our palazzo. First, let me say that condominium just doesn’t cut it as a translation. We live in a palazzo! Got it? Condominium sounds like we are in Boca Raton and I’m not liking that image. Second, this sign is and example of typical bureaucratic speak: the translation given above is the gist of the message. The more precise translation would be “there will be carried out a removal of winged animals”. And, there is an error I think: it should be allontanamento volatile. Man, if you are going to use bureaucratic language on me, at least get the spelling right.

Mancata raccolta deiezioni canine – Failure to pick up dog doo-doo
Continuing on the subject of animals and bureaucratic speak, we have this sign in Città Alta. I’ll spare you the whole sign and just talk about the title, which Google Translate gave as  “Failure to collect canine deletions” and Bing Translate as "missed canine screening". Deiezione/i is a pretty obscure word, when esecremento/i would have just been fine.