Friday, January 19, 2024

Hellebore Hike – aka Maresana Hike Again!

[Ranunculaceae] Helleborus niger - seen in Bergamo, Italy  [Ranunculaceae] Helleborus niger - seen in Bergamo, Italy [Ranunculaceae] Helleborus niger - seen in Bergamo, Italy
[Ranunculaceae] Helleborus niger - seen near Maresana Hill in Bergamo, Italy

We had a guest visiting us and thought a hike to Maresana and betyond for lunch at Trattoria del Moro would be nice. (And it was.)

On the way up on trail 553 (from Quintino Alto), we saw white flowers poking out in the brown leaf litter. Hellebores! We are always surprised to see the Helleborus niger in bloom in the downtime of January. This plant is also called Christmas rose or black hellebore. It is an evergreen perennial flowering plant in the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae.

In the wild, H. niger subsp. niger is generally found in mountainous areas in Switzerland, southern Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia and northern Italy. Helleborus niger subsp. macranthus is found only in northern Italy and possibly adjoining parts of Slovenia. Honestly, we don't know which subspecies we are seeing. It's likely niger.

According to the Schede di botanica, the plants pictured here are a little early in blooming. We should be seeing some snow in these hills and it's been unusually dry.

[Ranunculaceae] Helleborus niger - seen in Bergamo, Italy [Ranunculaceae] Helleborus niger - seen in Bergamo, Italy [Ranunculaceae] Helleborus niger - seen in Bergamo, Italy [Ranunculaceae] Helleborus niger - seen in Bergamo, Italy
[Ranunculaceae] Helleborus niger - seen near Maresana Hill in Bergamo, Italy

[Ranunculaceae] Helleborus niger - seen in Bergamo, Italy [Ranunculaceae] Helleborus niger - seen in Bergamo, Italy [Ranunculaceae] Helleborus niger - seen in Bergamo, Italy
[Ranunculaceae] Helleborus niger - seen near Maresana Hill in Bergamo, Italy

In the woods above Monterosso - Bergamo Starting up trail 533 in Bergamo Trattoria del Moro - Ponteranica, Bergamo - antipasti Trattoria del Moro - Ponteranica, Bergamo - foiade al ragu di lepre
Hiking on Maresana Hill in Bergamo, Italy followed by lunch dishes Trattoria del Moro (Ponteranica).

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Donne della Costituente – The Woman of the Constituent or Constitutional Assembly

Le Donne delle Costituente in Parco Sant' Agostino (Bergamo) Le Donne delle Costituente in Parco Sant' Agostino (Bergamo) Le donne delle Costituente - Adele Bei - a tree named in her honor
A memorial plaque in Parco Sant'Agostino Bergamo commemorating the women of the Constitutional Assembly. And, a tree dedicated to Adele Bei, one of the members.

On June 2, 1946, Italians were called upon to choose between the Monarchy and the Republic and to elect their representatives to the Constituent Assembly. There were 21 women elected, out of a total of 556 deputies. None were from Bergamo.

To remember this event, 21 trees in Parco Sant’Agostino in Bergamo were named after the 21 women elected to the Constituent Assembly on 2 June 1946. Also, an informational plaque was placed at the entrances to the park. The recognition and gesture requested by the Women's Council on the 75th anniversary of the Constitution of the Italian Republic.

A word about the phrase donne costituente is read as “woman of the constituent assembly”. Some terminology:

A note about the design. There are two colored ribbons weaving through the images, red and green. The ribbons seem to connect some of the women but not all. As far as we can tell, the red ribbon represents ‘approximately’ the Italian Communist Party and the green ribbon the Christian Democracy Party. Both parties no longer exist but were powerful forces at the time of the referendum on the monarchy. Perhaps a better way to think about it is that more than associating people, the ribbons are meant to call out (and was pointed out in the city hall web site): that they all were opposed to fascism.

  • Italian: “Molto diverse tra loro per età, cultura, professione, provengono tutte da precedenti esperienze di impegno sociale e politico, caratterizzato dall'opposizione al fascismo; in molti casi sono state attive nella Resistenza.”
  • English: Very different from each other in age, culture, profession, they all come from previous experiences of social and political commitment, characterized by opposition to fascism; in many cases they were active in the Resistance.

The 21 women are:

Adele Bei (Cantiano, 4 maggio 1904 - Roma, 15 ottobre 1976)
Bianca Bianchi (Vicchio di Mugello, 31 luglio 1914 - 9 luglio 2000)
Laura Bianchini (Castenedolo, 23 agosto 1903- Roma il 27 settembre 1983)
Elisabetta Conci (Trento, 23 marzo 1895 - Mollaro in Valle di Non, 1 novembre 1965)
Filomena Delli Castelli (Cittä Sant'Angelo, 28 settembre 1916 - 22 dicembre 2010)
Maria De Unterrichter (Ossana (Tn), 20 agosto 1902 - 27 dicembre 1975)
Maria Federici nata Anna Maria Agamben (Aquila, 19 settembre 1899 - 28 luglio 1984)

Nadia Gallico Spano (Tunisi, 2 giugno 1916 - Roma, 19 gennaio 2006)
Angela Gotelli (Albareto, 28 febbraio 1905 - 21 novembre 1996)
Angela Guidi (Roma 31 Ottobre 1896 - 11 lugiio 1991)
Nilde lotti (Reggio Emilia, 10 Aprile 1920 - Roma, 4 Dicembre 1999)
Teresa Mattei (Genova, 1 Febbraio 1921 - Usigliano, 12 Marzo 2013)
Lina Merlin (Pozzonovo, 15 Ottobre 1887 - Padova, 16 Agosto 1979)
Angiola Minella (Torino, 3 Febbraio 1920 - Genova, 12 Marzo 1988)

Rita Montagnana (Torino, 6 gennaio 1895 — Roma, 18 luglio 1979)
Maria Nicotra (Catania, 6 luglio 1913 — Padova, 14 luglio 2007)
Teresa Noce (Torino, 29 luglio 1900 — Bologna, 22 gennaio 1980)
Ottavia Penna (Caltagirone, 12 aprile 1907 — Caltagirone, 2 dicembre 1986)
Elettra Pollastrini (Rieti, 15 luglio 1908 - Rieti, 2 febbraio 1990)
Maria Maddalena Rossi (Codevilla, 29 settembre 1906 — Milano, 19 settembre 1995)
Vittoria Titomanlio (Barletta, 22 aprile 1899 — Napoli, 28 dicembre 1988)

 Le Donne delle Costituente in Parco Sant' Agostino (Bergamo) Le donne delle Costituente - Teresa Mattei - a tree named in her honor 
A memorial plaque in Parco Sant'Agostino Bergamo commemorating the women of the Constitutional Assembly. And, a tree dedicated to Teresa Mattei, one of the members.

Friday, January 12, 2024

Tree and Fruit Names in Italian – Which Gender?

Dealing with the gender of fruit trees and fruits in Italian.

In Italian, every noun has a gender, either masculine or feminine. This gender is essential for agreement with other parts of the sentence, such as articles, adjectives, and pronouns. 

When it comes to fruit trees and the fruits they produce, there’s a twist in Italian. While in English, you make the name of a fruit tree by adding “tree” after the fruit name, in Italian you use the same word for fruit but switch the gender of the fruit from feminine to masculine. For example, “apple” in Italian is “mela” (feminine), and “apple tree” is “melo” (masculine) as in “La storia di George Washington che abbatte un melo è una leggenda. Poi ha mangiato una mela?” 

Many fruit trees and their fruit follow this pattern, but not all! What did you expect? 

Here are the ones following the pattern.

masculine albero or “tree” / feminine frutta or “fruit” / English

  • l’albicocco / l’albicocca / “apricot”
  • l’arancio / l’arancia / “orange”
  • il banano / la banana / “banana”
  • il castagno / la castagna / “chestnut”
  • il ciliegio / la ciliegia / “cherry”
  • il mandorlo / la mandorla / “almond”
  • il melo / la mela / “apple”
  • il melo cotogno / la mela cotogna / “quince”
  • il melograno / la melagrana / “pomegranate”
  • il moro / la mora / “blackberry”
  • il nespolo / la nespola / “medlar”
  • il nespolo del Giappone / la nespola del Giappone / “loquat”
  • il nocciolo / la nocciola / “hazelnut”
  • il pero / la pera / “pear”
  • il pesco / la pesca / “peach”
  • il prugno / la prugna / “prune”
  • il sorbo / la sorba / “sorb”
  • il susino / la susina / “plum”

Now the exceptions.

Invariant spelling but gender article changes:

  • il noce / la noce / “walnut”

Masculine fruits/nut instead of feminine:

  • l’avocado / l’avocado / “avocado”
  • il limone/ il limone / “lemon”
  • il dattero / il dattero / “date”
  • il fico / il fico / “fig”
  • il kiwi / il kiwi / “kiwi”
  • il pistacchio / il pistacchio, / “pistachio”
  • il pompelmo / il pompelmo / “grapefruit”
  • il lampone / il lampone / “raspberry”
  • il mandarino / il mandarino / “mandarin”
  • il cachi / il cachi / “persimmon”
  • il mango / il mango / “mango”
  • il rampicante? della passione / il frutto della passione / “passion fruit”
  • il mirtillo / il mirtillo / “blueberry”

Feminine trees/bush instead of masculine:

  • la palma / {fruit depends} / “palm”
  • la quercia / la ghianda? "acorn” / “oak”
  • la vite / l’uva “grape” / “grapevine”
  • la papaia / la papaia / “papaya”

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Two Short Winter Hikes in Passo del Tonale, Italy

Overview ~ Hike 1 ~ Hike 2 ~ The Area

Walking down the Valbiolo ski run after house approaching Passo del Tonale Tracks for Hike on Tour delle Marmotte  Walking into the sunset at Passo del Tonale Tracks for hike to Galleria Alveo
Left: Walking down the Valbiolo ski run in twilight approaching Passo del Tonale. 
Center left: Tracks for hike 1.
Center right: Walking into the sunset at Passo del Tonale.
Right: Tracks for hike 2.


Last year, we did two late winter hikes, one west of Ponte di Legno and one east at Passo del Tonale: Two Late Winter Hikes Near Ponte di Legno, Italy. This year, we stayed at a rented house in Passo del Tonale over the New Year. To add diversity to our days instead of just skiing (see How I Learned to Like Skiing – 7 Simple Rules), we looked for hikes to do. Here, we show two simple hikes of under two hours that we did on Jan 2 and Jan 3, 2024. There are hikes more waiting to be discovered in this area.

Both hikes were done in the late afternoon, so we hiked into dusk for both. Start earlier if you can.

Hike 1: Tour delle Marmotte

Duration: 1.25 hours
Elevation: 60 m gain (estimate)
Length: 6 km

Our path on this day we cut short because of waning light and a freezing wind! Otherwise, we would have taken the road up to the cozy Ospizio San Bartolomeo (now called Hotel/Restaurant Mirandola). We, in fact, visited this hotel/restaurant twice in the days before this hike. We include some of those photos here. We had a nice lunch at Ospizio one day and an afternoon hot drink on another. 

On the way back into town for hike 1 we stopped at the Panificio Pezzani to get some strudel to take home for dessert! Don’t miss it.

Passo del Tonale is split between the regions of Lombary (Lombardia in Italian) and Trentino-South Tyrol (Trentino-Alto Adige in Italian). The dividing line is at the landmark Military Memorial Passo del Tonale (Sacrario militare del Tonale). (See Street Sign Language Lesson XL.)

We started the walk here, near the area for campers.

Passo del Tonale view north from Tour delle Marmotte trail Tour delle Marmotte trail with fresh snow between trees In some deep snow on Tour delle Marmotte
Left: Passo del Tonale view north from Tour delle Marmotte trail.
Center and right: Tour delle Marmotte trail with fresh snow between trees.

Panificio Pezzani (Passo del Tonale) strudel The Valbiolo Ski Lift at Dusk - from Hotel Mirandola Walking near Opsizio San Bartolomeo at dusk Tour delle Marmotte trail  
Left: Strudel from Panificio Pezzani, Passo del Tonale.
Center left: View from Hotel Mirandola toward sunset and Valbiolo chairlift.
Center right: Walking near Ospizio San Bartolomeo/Hotel Mirandola.
Right: Starting off on the Tour delle Marmotte trail.

Hike 2: Walk to Galleria Alveo

Duration: 1.5 hours
Elevation: 235 m
Length: 8.5 km

Last summer, we took the gondola up to see the Presena Glacier (see Presena Glacier – A summer visit to the covered glacier). On this hike, we follow the path partly up to the glacier from the pass. Our turnaround point is the Alveo tunnel (Galleria Alveo), a short tunnel through the mountain. The tunnel was made during WWI. If you continue on this trail, you would reach the ex-military village of Monticelli (dating to WW1) and Rifugio Capanna Presena. This is numbered trail 281. (Other references and photos: here and here.)

Alveo in Italian is “riverbed”, referring to the riverbed plateau the trail takes you to. The river is caused by glacier runoff.

Hold on to the ropes in the tunnel. It was very slippery even though it didn’t look to be so.

We started the walk here, near the area for campers. This trail is called 723 – Tour delle Marmotte, which we walked part of in Hike1. Instead of following Marmotte all the way, at this point we caught the trail to Presena (here or here if there is a lot of snow).

Alveo Presena Trail Sign CA 281 Mountains below and to the north of Cima Cercen 
Left: Trail sign for CAI 281.
Right: View from Trail 218 looking east, near the Galleria Alveo.

Ice formations in Galleria Alveo Ice formations in Galleria Alveo Ice formations in Galleria Alveo Ice formations near Galleria Alveo
Ice formations in and near the Galleria Alveo.

Near Tour delle Marmotte but off trail and in fresh snow Passo del Tonale in the late afternoon winter sun - Monte Tonale Occidentale visible Road - trail leading to Galleria Alveo
Left and center: Passo del Tonale in the late afternoon winter sun - Monte Tonale Occidentale visible.
Right: The CAI 281 trail and approaching the tunnel opening.

Galleria Alveo entrance in winter Galleria Alveo - ropes Walking throught the Galleria Alveo 
Galleria Alveo - a tunnel made during World War I. Why are tunnels fascinating?

Galleria Alveo - entrance in winter Galleria Alveo icicles in winter Galleria Alveo inside in winter with icicles overhead
Galleria Alveo - a helmet might be smart to wear inside given those icicles!

The area

Eastern Alps
--|Southern Rhaetian Alps (28 in the SOIUSA classification of the Alps, highest peak Ortler at 3,905 m)
--|--|Adamello-Presanella Alps (II/C-28.III SOIUSA, highest peak Presanella at 3,558 m)

The Adamello-Presanella Alps Alpine group is a mountain range in the Southern Limestone Alps mountain group of the Eastern Alps. It is located in northern Italy, in the provinces of Trentino and Brescia. The name stems from its highest peaks: Adamello and Presanella. The Tonale Pass separates the Adamello-Presanella Alps from the Ortler Apls to the the north.

How I Learned to Like Skiing – 7 Simple Rules

Passo del Tonale - Contrabanddieri Run with fog in the valley - 2023 Rifugio Santa Croce - La Crusc - Alta Badia - Italy - 2018 Sella Pass - Canazei - Italy - 2019
Left: (2023) Passo del Tonale, Italy - Contrabanddieri Run with fog in the valley
Center: (2018) Alta Badia, Italy - Rifugio Santa Croce - La Crusc
Right: (2019) Canazei, Italy - Sella Pass 

1. Learn to say no. If you don’t want to ski a “hard” run. Don’t do it. If you don’t feel like skiing one day, don’t. If a group of friends is going to tackle a ski run you don’t like or feel like skiing at the time, skip it.

2. Stop when you aren’t having fun. The trick here is to realize when you aren’t having fun. For example, for me it’s when visibility goes way down and I can’t see the slope. Some skiers don’t mind that. I do. So, I stop. If I’m tired, getting sloppy, and am worried about falling, I stop.

3. Enjoy the other stuff around skiing: rifugio, people, environment. For me, planning something before or after skiing helps break up the day. For example, ski in the morning and then an afternoon walk. Or vice versa. One day, we tried skimo and loved it. Other ideas: ski just a few hours and then explore a nearby village. Spend a long leisurely lunch or break in a rifugio. Bring a book.

4. Breathe. I found that when heading down a slope that was a little tricky, I would hold my breath. A thoughtful big inhale and exhale before tackling the slope helps me.

5. Expect nonlinearity. Weather, visibility, snow, how your body feels, group dynamics, skis, etc. change in time. One day, I ski great. The next day, horribly. Conditions? Me? I don’t know for sure but I accept it.

6. Experience and practice does make you better. Find a slope that you like and get comfortable there. Ski it a dozen times to build confidence.

7. Don’t worry about what others think about you. That applies to all endeavors.

Punto panoramico Grosté - Madonna di Campiglio - Italy - 2019 Sassolungo - Selva - Italy - 2019 Passo del Tonale - Italy - skimo in Valbiolo - 2023
Left: (2019) Madonna di Campiglio, Italy - Punto panoramico Grosté
Center: (2019) Selva, Italy - Sassolungo
Right: (2023) Passo del Tonale, Italy - skimo in Valbiolo

Seefeld in Tirol - Austria - cross country ski tracks - 2022 Cogne - Italy - cross country ski tracks - 2019 Seefeld in Tirol - Austria - slope - 2022 
Left: (2022) Seefeld in Tirol, Austria - cross country ski tracks
Center: (2019) Cogne, Italy - cross country ski tracks
Right: (2019) Seefeld in Tirol, Austria - slope