Tuesday 25 September 2012

Storms, battlements and danger!

Monday is a bit of a cultural non event in italy because galleries are usually shut. Even the shops here weren't opening any time soon, mind you they were lovely when they did open. But as this town was still quite new and uncharted territory, after a splendid breakfast, we headed off eith a map for a planned perambulation.

Actually breakfast: over coffee, choc croissants, cherry jam rolls and a spectacularly messy orange, we chatted to the other person in this B&B, a israeli/US lady called Laura. She has been here for a few days longer than us so we asked for some travellers tips. Always useful. She is travelling alone so I think it was nice for her to speak English. After Syrian politics, travel, the weather etc, we departed.

The direction was chosen by taking a road we hadn't gone down before and headed for the walls of the city. The view was incredible, the new town spead out below and the roads coming up to the old town clearly visible. What a place to defend! As we walked under the old leafy battlements, there was a mysterious thud and cracking...horse chestnut trees had decided it was time for a game of conkers with humans and were dropping their fruit with impunity. Beautiful brown conkers were sat in the cobbled areas, smiling up glossily from their fresh white casing.

Apparently from Istanbul to Rome the pavements are awash with conkers!

We were heading to the botanic gardens however we got distracted by a funicular going up hill. It was just in time for the last one before lunch so after being shown how to use the ticket machine by the well travelled one, we hopped on excitedly. Ok, I did. He just looked at me as if I were a child. And we went up. And up. And as Bergamo receded we arrived in St Virgilio, a village on a hill.

We headed for the Castello and after commenting on the newness of the gardens and fountains 'work in progress' we found more stairs to climb. Because we clearly weren't high enough. Oh my. Our vista of Lombardi from the exposed lookout was suberb. Just little towns, forested green hills as far as you could see. The weather however was starting to turn interesting and we thought it wise to head back down into town on foot because gravity Watson our favour.

We prevented a group of French students marching briskly up the hill from going further. The sensible older man at the back with the map asked where we were and, yes they were heading the wrong way. Didn't chuckle at all...

After pizza in an increasing dark town square, the rain threatened. Street lights were on, car headlights on...it was 3pm and twilight. The view of the storm rolling in was marvellous so we watched it through the open window of our high up room for as long as possible. The constant thunder and lightening rumbled around and we were glad we weren't on that exposed castle roof.

At that point I had a nap!

You really don't want to hear about my shopping trip or the deliciously falling apart osso bucco with cheesy polenta. Or the Campari spritz in our favourite bar. I mean, I don't want to spoil you. Today we are hitting the galleries and more trains on hills.