Day 3: Bergamo Citta Alta and beyond

Last night we stayed at a very nice hostel, in a room meant for 3 people for the price of two! It had all the amenities of a hotel, but for less cost. We woke up and had a great all-you-can-eat breakfast of assorted breads with butter, jam, and nutella, a yogurt like substance with cereal, hot chocolate (SOO much better than any I have had in the US), and kiwis. We set out to see Bergamo’s citta alta. Bergamo is a fairly modern city, with urban sprawl down on the plain, and an old city up on the hill. We took another fun funiculare to the top of the hill (thank you Austin for not making me walk up the hill) and walked through 2 beautiful churches. These weren’t as old as others we have seen, and had very elaborate decorative sculpture and paintings including gold leafing all over the place. Both churches were very well preserved, and one even had some paintings that were currently being restored on display so we could see the work in progress.

At La Rocca there was a garden of remembrance with
equipment from the world wars…

We wandered around the city a bit and found an edge looking off towards more mountains and the plain where the rest of Bergamo sits. There was a wonderful view. We found La Rocca, a fortress that has been used for defense of the city for hundreds (maybe thousands) of years. Bergamo originally was just the city on the hill, and the walled city made it very hard for people to attack it. It was part of the Venetian empire, so the Venetian lion was prominent on the city gates and other buildings. ¬†Something that I didn’t realize about Italy in general was how late Italy became the country that it is today. Even in the late 1800’s, regions of Italy were basically governing themselves or did not have a government at all. It led to a lot of political unrest, and there were mass killings of people of Bergamo who owned weapons in the 1800s when invaders came in. We visited a museum about Bergamo’s history, and got to explore the fortress a little bit, which included a very old church that actually used to be a pagan temple way back in the day. It was really neat.

Austin did have us walk down the hill from citta alta because the road down is quite picturesque, with ivy growing on the old city walls and flowers everywhere. I keep taking pictures of random houses/rivers/bridges/flowers/walkways in the hopes of some of them turning out well enough to decorate our townhome with. That’s right, we received word that we got into the townhome we wanted! We are very excited to have a place to live, especially in the area that we got it in. Hooray!

Gate to Citta Alta with Venetian lion
Ceiling in the Duomo of Bergamo… So beautiful!

After Bergamo, we took trains for the rest of the day. At least that’s what it felt like. We took 4 trains I think, with 1 long stop in Desenzano which is on the shore of Lake Garda. Garda is a huge lake, and we wandered around Desenzano for awhile trying to find a Roman Villa. We never found it, but we found another old castle that they were restoring so I didn’t feel too left out. We also wandered down to the lake, where my feet took a dip for awhile because they were very tired and sore. Walking around with 20 lbs of baby weight and 30 lbs of backpack weight definitely is taking a toll on my poor feet. After dunking them in the lake for awhile, they were ready for anything though, and we booked it back up a very huge hill to the train station, just in time to wait in line for 15 minutes for a train ticket, and miss the next train we needed to make it to Padova. All because an old lady had a question for the guy at the ticket counter that took forever long to answer. Austin was mad at the old lady for awhile, but took the time to call Rosa, his Italian cook friend that lives in San Remo, and confirm that we are staying with her for 3 nights at the end of our trip. So, we will definitely not be homeless while we are here! Hooray!

We are now in Padova, and are excited to explore this university town tomorrow. We already got to a little as we decided to go to the grocery store for dinner tonight, and our tram tickets expired so we had to walk through the city back to the hostel. So far it seems pretty cool; on our walk we passed this makeshift band on the street making pretty awesome music. I wish that we had a camera or my ipod to take video of them. The instrumentation was thus: 2 drums (1 with a cymbal), 2 guitars, 2 accordions, 1 flute, 1 some other type of mouth pipe… I think that’s it. It was pretty awesome. Also, we experienced something interesting on the way to the hostel on the tram. Typically on public transportation there are a few police-type enforcers of who has tickets and who does not have tickets. In Padova, we were stopped at a tram stop, and 8 police ticket guys flooded the tram and would not let people get off until they proved they had a ticket with the proper time. They wrote quite a few tickets and Austin and I were glad that we did have a ticket.

Also, we ate today for less than 20E total. I think that is a record…at least for people who eat as much as Austin and I…

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