As the Scary One never tires of reminding me I went away a dozen times last year which I, of course, didn’t have the courage to correct her on…
It was nearer 14! 2020 though was a quieter affair for some reason.
That said, it’s always about the quality, not the quantity. Hell, who am I kidding? It’s always about the quality and the quantity!
I made some new friends and hooked up with some old ones…
And that’s before I made the biggest journey and commitment of them all by returning (for good, I’ve been told!) to my homeland, Scotland.
I make sure that I contact all those dream-makers at the end of every year who have hosted me over the course of the previous 12 months.
And this year has been no exception.
And this year I add those who have tried to get me away but something has got in the way.
While my heart, and any help I can ever give, I give to those for whom 2020 saw them lose their jobs or business.
Bohemia. Beer and Beethoven
But heck, my pal Katarína knows how I roll.
And she’d arranged a walk through Bohemian Switzerland which is the Czech Republic which is Narnia.
Confused? Well this is the centre of Europe, battleground and playground for the continent’s great powers.
And where the Great and Good came to compose and repose.
We stayed in the Beethoven Spa, where Beethoven himself had a room, and where they have his hearing horns and his death mask.
There was a nuclear bunker, an opera and much else.
This one is Fur Elise (no really, that is her name), my travel partner… I do hope you got to Russia.
Stastnejsi novy rok.
Bergamo Stay Strong
And because I’m a journalist, and a contrarian, I rush for trouble where others run away from it.
So that when images of Bergamo in lockdown, here in Western Europe, shot onto our screens I vowed I would get out there.
Which I did in the Autumn when I saw a city, and its citizens, blending in with the changing of the seasons and nature’s ways.
Nature had not been kind to the Berganaschi with the Northern European city Covid’s European epicentre in March.
But here they were back out in the piazzas, looking beautiful and cool, even behind their masks.
Well they all speak with their hands anyway (parlano con le mani).
And they have much to tell us about their city.
About their favourite sons Papa Giovanni XXIII who gave his name to the hospital we were all transported to in March.
And composer Gaetano Donizetti who is ubiquitous in the city which throws an annual operatic festival to him.
As ubiquitous as Italian hero and freedom fighter Guiseppe Garibaldi who on his Expedition of the 1,000, his march on Rome, drew heavily from Bergamo.
Which has given the city the moniker, La Citta dei Mille (the city of the thousand). My kinda people.
Anno nuovo piu felice.