Saturday, April 24, 2021

40 Doors of Bergamo - Psychogeography

Bergamo 40 Doors Project - Post 1 - Psychogeography

What is the 40 Doors Project of Bergamo?

This project showcases interesting doors of Bergamo, Italy. In a series of posts, we'll show 40 different doors per post. And, each post has a theme that connects to doors. This post is the first in the series and its theme is psychogeography. 


We admit it: we are flâneurs. We are loafers, idlers, dawdlers – whatever you want to call us – when it comes to walking around Bergamo, or any city for that matter. We explore, we observe, we feel. The last point is key. Many of our walking conversations are about "how does something make us feel". Answers could be: "It make's me feel happy." "It's beautiful." "That's odd." "It looks ugly to me." It's not about passing judgement but noting our reactions and thinking about them. We've written past pieces in this vein, including: Bergamo – A Running Mediation and Thoughts on Ivy, which are fundamentally pieces about how place makes us feel.

Noticing how place impacts emotion falls under psychogeography. This term came into use in the 1950s among radical artists and cultural theorists in Europe associated first with Letterist International and then with Situationist International movements. One of the beautiful ideas from these movements is the dérive, "an unplanned journey through a landscape, usually urban, in which participants drop their everyday relations and 'let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there'".

The 40 doors of Bergamo project is our way of exploring, observing and thinking about doors. These are doors we pass by on our dérive through Bergamo. We plan walks for sure – see Walking and Hiking Around Bergamo – but there are just as many unplanned, serendipitous walks we take through the streets, country lanes, and scalette of Bergamo.

Recently and serendipitously we put on the latest Max Richter release, Voices 2, and the first track was – drum roll – Psychogeography. When you can't get outside for a physical dérive, Richter's music is perfect for a in-place mental dérive. One of our all time Richter favorites is The Blue Notebooks, described in a past post, Blue Ocatvo Notebooks.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Hike: Bergamo to Monte Filaressa, Monte Costone, Corna Bianca

Trail 533 in Salmezza.A broken birch tree near Corna Bianca.Trail 531 marker.
Hike tracks from Bergamo to Salmezza calling out trails 531 and 533.On Trail 533 below Salmezza.
Top left: Trail 533 in Salmezza. Top center: A broken birch tree near Corna Bianca. Top right: Trail 531 marker. Bottom left: Hike tracks from Bergamo to Salmezza calling out trails 531 and 533. Bottom right: On Trail 533 below Salmezza.


Length: 31 km (19.2 mi)
Duration: ~9 hours (one 30 min stop for lunch, and two small stops)
Elevation: 1,640 m (5,380 ft)
Location: Italy, Lombardy, Parco dei Colli, Alzano Lombardo


Two weeks ago we tried to reach Monte Filaressa and turned around due to stormy conditions. Today, we are able to make it to Monte Filaressa (1134 m) and beyond to Monte Costone (1195 m) and the flanks of Corna Bianca (1228 m). Our turn around point before returning to Bergamo is the small hamlet of Salmezza. This hamlet is a good example of an alpine village.

To reach Salmezza, you can walk from Bergamo as we do here, or you can take a tram – bus – gondola combination to get to Selvino and then walk up. Or, you can drive. To be honest, this is a long walk. There are plenty of places to stop along the way to relax. We stopped at Canto Basso for a small break, then again at the top of Monte Filaressa for lunch, and then at Salmezza for a coffee (take-out only during pandemic). In our hike to Salmezza last August, we ate at Merelli Gilberto. So that's a great option for lunch when things return to normal after the pandemic.

You can climb to the peak of Monte Filaressa, but must turn around to continue on toward Salmezza. As you are descending from Filaressa, you might be tempted by the first trail going off to the right, heading to Salmezza. Be warned that trail is very steep. If you continue down a little more, descending back toward Monte di Nese, you'll reach a easier and flatter trail that goes around the north of Monte Filaressa.

As a reminder, typical for these hikes, study before going: CAI maps and OpenStreetMap. There are trails that follow the crests, which can be a bit intimidating. There are usually alternate trails slightly lower (and longer) but just as satisfying. Trail signage gives indications to difficulty. For the path between Monte di Nese and Salmezza, Trail 533 is your lower altitude trail and Trail 531 is your crest trail. In today's hike we took Trail 531 going and Trail 533 returning.


Many of the resources we use are listed in our post Resources for Identifying Plants around Bergamo. We especially rely on the Checklist flora (for the Lombardy region) to check if the altitude we spotted the plant and the season of bloom are correct. Then, we double check in the half dozen guide books we have. In particular, the Gruppo Flora Alpina Bergamasca have a series of really useful books.

On this hike, the Gentians were particular difficult to identify. We used the data at Checklist Flora. We ruled out G. acaulis (found above 2000 m, blooms starting in May, and looks like G. clusii) and G. bavarica (found above 1700 m, blooms starting in July, and looks like G. verna). On this hike we didn't break 1200 m.

We give identifications in this form:

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

[Brassicaceae] Alliaria petiolata – Garlic Mustard {Alliaria comune}
[Brassicaceae] Cardamine heptaphylla – Pinnate Coralroot {Dentaria pennata}
  • Note the seven (hepta) parts (leaflets) to the leaf.
[Caprifoliaceae] Knautia arvensis – Field Scabiosa {Ambretta comune}
[Ericaceae] Erica carnea – Winter Heath, Spring Heath – {Erica carnicina}
[Euphorbiaceae] Euphorbia amygdaloides – Wood Spurge {Euforbia mandorlo}
[Fabiaceae] Laburnum anagyroides – Common Laburnum, Golden Rain/Chain {Maggiociondolo}
  • Didn't get a good photo of this, but was spotted at low elevations < 600 m.
[Gentianaceae] Gentiana clusii – Trumpet Gentian {Genziana di Clusius}

  • Found above 1400m (we saw it between 900 – 1100 m, outside of reported range).
  • Bloom starting April. (satisfied)
  • No green inside corolla to distinguish between G. acaulis. (satisfied)
[Gentianaceae] Gentiana utriculosa – Bladder Gentian {Genziana alata}

  • Found above 300 m (satisfied)
  • Blooms starting in May (stretching it but we are almost in May)
[Gentianaceae] Gentiana verna – Spring Gentian {Genziana primaverile}

  • Found above 400 m. (satisfied)
  • Blooms starting April. (satisfied)

[Polygalaceae] Polygaloides chamaebuxus – Shrubby Milkwort {Poligala falso bosso, camebosso}
[Ranunculaceae] Helleborus niger – Christmas rose {Rosa di Natale}
[Rubiaceae] Cruciata laevipes – Crosswort, Smooth Bedstraw {Crocettona comune}
  • Rubiaceae is a family of flowering plants, commonly known as the coffee, madder, or bedstraw family.
[Salicaceae] Salix sp. – Willow {Salice} – possibly S. purpurea.
[Thymelaeaceae] Daphne cneorum – Garland flower {Dafne odorosa}

[Brassicaceae] Alliaria petiolata – Garlic Mustard.[Brassicaceae] Alliaria petiolata – Garlic Mustard.[Brassicaceae] Cardamine heptaphylla – Pinnate Coralroot.
Left and center: [Brassicaceae] Alliaria petiolata – Garlic Mustard. Right: [Brassicaceae] Cardamine heptaphylla – Pinnate Coralroot.

[Brassicaceae] Cardamine heptaphylla – Pinnate Coralroot.[Brassicaceae] Cardamine heptaphylla – Pinnate Coralroot.
[Brassicaceae] Cardamine heptaphylla – Pinnate Coralroot.

[Caprifoliaceae] Knautia arvensis – Field Scabiosa.[Ericaceae] Erica carnea – Winter Heath, Spring Heath.
Left: [Caprifoliaceae] Knautia arvensis – Field Scabiosa. Right: [Ericaceae] Erica carnea – Winter Heath, Spring Heath.

[Euphorbiaceae] Euphorbia amygdaloides.[Rubiaceae] Cruciata laevipes – Crosswort, Smooth Bedstraw.
Left: [Euphorbiaceae] Euphorbia amygdaloides. Right: [Rubiaceae] Cruciata laevipes – Crosswort, Smooth Bedstraw.

[Gentianaceae] Gentiana clusii – Trumpet Gentian.[Gentianaceae] Gentiana clusii – Trumpet Gentian.
[Gentianaceae] Gentiana clusii – Trumpet Gentian.

[Gentianaceae] Gentiana utriculosa – Bladder Gentian.[Gentianaceae] Gentiana utriculosa – Bladder Gentian.
[Gentianaceae] Gentiana utriculosa – Bladder Gentian.

[Gentianaceae] Gentiana verna – Spring Gentian.[Gentianaceae] Gentiana verna – Spring Gentian.
[Gentianaceae] Gentiana verna – Spring Gentian.

[Polygalaceae] Polygaloides chamaebuxus – Shrubby Milkwort.[Polygalaceae] Polygaloides chamaebuxus – Shrubby Milkwort.
[Polygalaceae] Polygaloides chamaebuxus – Shrubby Milkwort.

[Ranunculaceae] Helleborus niger – Christmas rose.[Thymelaeaceae] Daphne cneorum – Garland flower.[Thymelaeaceae] Daphne cneorum – Garland flower.
Left: [Ranunculaceae] Helleborus niger – Christmas rose. Center and right: [Thymelaeaceae] Daphne cneorum – Garland flower.

[Salicaceae] Salix sp. – Willow.[Salicaceae] Salix sp. – Willow.
[Salicaceae] Salix sp. – Willow.

Trail Photos

Above Monte di Nese, walking toward Monte Filaressa.Canto Basso, walking toward Monte Cavallo.
Left: Above Monte di Nese, walking toward Monte Filaressa. Right: Canto Basso, walking toward Monte Cavallo.

The hike tracks (without annotation).Trail north of Monte Filaressa that skirts the peak.Madonna del Riposo overlooking Selvino.
Left: The hike tracks (without annotation). Center: Trail north of Monte Filaressa that skirts the peak. Right: Madonna del Riposo overlooking Selvino.

Madonnina of Monte Costone.Leaving the Madonnina and heading to Corna Bianca on the crest trail.
Left: Madonnina of Monte Costone. Right: Leaving the Madonnina and heading to Corna Bianca on the crest trail.

Left: The flanks of Monte Filaressa heading up to the peak. Right: From the flanks of Monte Filaressa looking south toward Monte di Nese.

Trail 533 below Monte di Nese with profile of Monte Filaressa in the background.View of the alpine village of Salmezza from Corna Bianca.
Left: Trail 533 below Monte di Nese with profile of Monte Filaressa in the background. Right: View of the alpine village of Salmezza from Corna Bianca.