July 2, 2015
For Whom The Bell Tolls
We arrived in Bergamo, Italy right before two we had arranged with our landlord who doesn’t live on sight to meet at two. After a harrowing drive on the Autostada, we were less than happy when we had to park on a ten foot wide street in the center of an ancient city. There is a hundred foot or so tower kitty corner from our B&B.
I chose Bergamo being at about the maximum distance that I wanted to drive today after leaving Rovinj. We departed easily after a big last dinner in Rovinj. Peggy was embarrassed that I made such quick friends with the restaurant manager. He was a double of Lucca Brazzi, the muscle for Marlon Brando in the the Godfather. I got to know him as Big Boss. We enjoyed our share of local Croatian wine and some more grilled squid.
The drive here was long. We needed to leave Croatia, a non-EU country and cross briefly into Slovenia. Waiting in line is not fun but we got some new border stamps which are a rarity in the new Europe. We finally got on the Italian Autostrata that should be renamed as the Truckstrada. There are three lanes but trucks effectively dominate two. Their lane changes are immediate and without warning. Almost got pincered. Besides our AC is not working and it was 100 or so. We had lunch in a shaded road side sanctuary for Mary. Catholicism was starting to look good. I was done when we staggered into Bergamo.
The proprietor got us parked in a resident only area. We managed the three flights of narrow stairs to our room. There is a fan and a shared bath but this place is small. More importantly, we found genuine, handmade gelato. One scoop and all was better.
We found the town tower, of course. It was my lucky day as there was an elevator that got us almost all the way to the bells. I had to manage a couple flights of stairs hanging over air to reach the top. Peggy was happy. She took plenty of tower top pictures and the bells went off. Speaking of bells, the big one is scheduled to go off 100 times at 10PM. The landlord warned is to not try to sleep until the bell production is over. The bell is maybe 100 yards from our bedroom.
We walked the sights including a bunch of buildings built right after the Black Death swept through town in the 14th Century. The buildings speak volumes for human faith and resilience. The town is still lively with graduation celebrations, weddings and children’s summer camp. It is about 9:30 now and the streets are still packed and this is Wednesday.
Despite the challenges, I like being in the center of these old towns. Being able to walk to all of the main sights and go to dinner without a drive is worth every bit of the crazy parking, tiny stairways, crowded conditions and other issues.
We went to a recommended restaurant that featured pizza. This is not normal this region. Pizza originated in the south near Naples. Anyway, I liked the crust and the setting was great with plenty of families and locals. I got into a long discussion with the wine steward about the local wines and their California cousins. He ended up treating us to some Vermentino from his cellar. I had to admit that it was very good. We enjoyed the evening but passed on the dessert.
Finally found a good limonata
The locally produced gelato is too good. We returned for today’s second helping. I am just about done and have a half hour until the bells toll.