Adventure, Africa, Countries, Culture, Deals, Food

Holiday Snaps – Capes of good hope

And, yes, you read that right. I’m talking of the Eastern and Western Capes of South Africa and the Good Hope of returning ine day.

TV chef Gregg Wallace has been conjuring up memories of the Eastern Cape foe me in his ITV travelogue series, sponsored by Saga Holidays.

Where last week he went on safari at the Amakahla Game Reserve, just north-west of Port Elizabeth, and this week goes west to Table Mountain et al.

Chin chin: Gregg Wallace in South Africa

Of course Gregg got stuck into biltong, the dried cured meat they all eat out there.

The promo video shows Gregg toasting us with a South African white you can almost taste.

But a piece of advice, Gregg, if you really want to go native then you need to put ice in the wine.

Bergamo stands alone

Bergamo Molamia: Stay strong

Mola Mia… and I’m glad to see that Ryanair is giving Bergamo back its name in its latest tranche of offers and not just aa an appendage of Milan.

They flag up the medieval jewel of Lombardy at up to €30 off which takes you to their €23.99 one-way deal for Milan Bergamo.

Bur hey, Bergamo wasn’t built in a day… and I’ll share all its history and how it has rallied from being the doorway for Covid in Europe.

Una ciocolatta di calda densa: In Bergamo

Book foe Bergamo and a raft of destinations by January 13. Travel between April 1 and October 31.

Ryanair helpfully shares where you can get a Covid test near you.

Sandals in the sand

Blessed: Saint Lucia

Or more accurately on the runway. Actually the plane on the runway but then my hour in Saint Lucia just whetted my appetite.

My Saint Lucian pal Jerry, the Big Rapper, from my G Adventures tour of Jordan had given me the skinny on his island.

And how he had plans for writing a guide book.

Look out for that when you’re out in Saint Lucia at Sandals who have a January sale on.

They have seven nights at the Sandals Regency La Toc with travel dates in September and October.

Fly with British Airways and stay in a honeymoon luxury.

Now I’ve experience of a couples hotel in Barbados and a Sandals on the south of the island too,

While, if you want to island hop, Saint Lucia is the stop-off for another prize destination Tobago.

Africa, Countries, Culture, Food

Tagine genie and Morocco

It all looked so exotic under its earthenware cone… I only wish I’d known what to look out for in a Moroccan tagine.

I didn’t know then but do now about the Tagine Cookery Class With A Local in Marrakech class which you’ll need to check out when you visit Morocco.

Anyone who has been to the Pink City will learn quickly that you’re always best to have a local show you around.

A taste if Morocco

And not the False Guides who proliferate around Marrakech and in whose clasp I found myself when a chancer offered to take me to a Turkish barber.

But the credited guides, and ours was particularly knowledgeable and was also a sight better at bargaining on our behalves.

The class souk

They also obviously know their way through the souk which also helps, particularly when there’s a funeral procession running through it.

One we made earlier

And this is what your cookery course organisers will handle, taking you through the souk where you will get advice on what herbs and spices to buy.

Before they get you to cook the tagine for yourself and your party in a riad. And all for just £45.15pp.

The perfect course

Cookery courses are all the rage on holiday and I’ve learned how to make a Tobagonian chicken curry, and a Colorado apple pie

And yes, this would have headed off a battering at the pass that I took at the pass in the Atlas Mountains on a stormy day in Ramadan.

Our friends at the Moroccan tourist board are rightly flagging up the.charms of the Atlas Mountains and its environs.

The camel treks, the Berber song, drum and folk dance in the desert and the chance to sleep out under the stars.

Which for everyone else was in a tent but for me was in a toilet with no flush… lock on the door, or roof.

A trip to the Berber

If only I’d known about the Marrakech cookery class.

Still, you do get a better star show from an open-roofed shack in the Atlas Mountains.

Countries, Culture, Europe, Food, Food & Wine

Happier New Year

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.

Voyage of the Jim Treadee

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…

On the King Charles Bridge in Prague

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.

Fur Elise: My Travel partner Elise

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

Na Zdravi: In Prague

This time I was let off the leash in one of my favourite cities and given a monastic brewery to sup in and a Hoptown.

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.

In the frame: In Zatec

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.

Czech mate: Well, she is Slovakian but Katarina is my Czech Tourism pal

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

Bergamo life: Una ciocolatta di calda dens in Bergamo

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.

Bergamo stay steong

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.

Fun of the Funiculare

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.

A poplar choice

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.

 

 

Countries, Culture, Europe, Food, Food & Wine, Ireland, UK

Bergamo, mola mia – stay strong!

Visitors have not always been kind to Bergamo.

Most of us still place it as Milan-Bergamo after its airport (actually it’s Il Caravaggio Orio al Serio International Airport), and this year we saw it as the Covid-19 gateway to Europe.

The pandemic hit Lombardy hard and early; the world watching in horror as its grip fastened last February and March – a preview of things to come.

Stay strong

It was a surreal light to shine on Bergamo, a medieval city in the Alpine foothills.

Suddenly portrayed not as a bustling cultural and historical hub, but through rolling television coverage.

Of empty cobbled streets, eerie churches and boarded shutters.

Medieval Bergamo

A sweeping landscape

Bergamo boasts rich galleries with works by Titian, Botticelli and Canaletto.

We know its Champions League football team, Atalanta.

It celebrates composer Gaetano Donizetti in its annual international opera festival.

And it has architectural dedications to revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi.

The cobbled stones of the old city

Bergamo is known as the Citta dei Mille after 1,000 of its citizens marched on Rome and helped unify Italy in the 19th century.

This year, tourists vanished and a different type of visitor descended.

International news teams flocking to the Papa Giovanni XXIII Hospital, named for another famous son.

Snapshot of Bergamo in the pandemic

But there is light at the end of the tunnel, as many of those who travelled to report on distress, only to find success, have discovered.

As Christophe Sanchez, CEO of Visit Bergamo, said: “Because of the situation we have been through, Bergamo is now the safest town in Europe.”

Visitors it is true, have not always been kind to Bergamo.

But Bergamo is kind to its visitors, particularly those who stay a while.

Owed to Autumn

The Autumn poplar trees

Visiting this autumn, I found the streets, which were desolate in March when everyone was locked away behind their shutters, alive again six months later.

Citizens mingled, talking at breakneck speed behind their masks and, of course, con le mani (with their hands).

Ice cream heaven

They spoke, of course, of the second wave that has now come to pass, and the closure of restaurants, cafes, shops and museums. But also calcio e cibo… football and food.

And whatever it is that a gathering of young Bergamaschi always chat about in loud decibels outside your hotel bedroom window at midnight.

My visit gave me a glimpse into the everyday life of the Bergamaschi – not as victims, although there have been far too many of them, but survivors.

A picture of our times

The testing centre

An exhibition of photographs in the piazza captured the past year.

A masked priest administered Mass; doctors and nurses cared for the sick and dying, and a father cradled his new-born son.

But the Bergamaschi, queuing at the open-air testing centre, knew that the worst had passed and what they were now having to endure is temporary.

They had been here before and prevailed – with a little help from God.

Bergamo is split into old and new towns, Citta Alta (high town) and Citta Bassa (low town).

The best way to reach the walled and cobbled Citta Alta is by funicular.

It takes you into the centre of things, Piazza Mercato delle Scarpe (market of the shoes), and to that staple of any old Italian town, an Irish pub, Tucans.

Take me to Church

Stories for the Masses

For the real beating heart of Bergamo, though, I went to Piazza del Duomo – which houses Bergamo Cathedral and the Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore.

Here, the Bergamaschi congregation of old could follow redemptive tales of the parting of the Red Sea, David and Goliath and Noah and the Deluge on wooden engravings.

Forza Atalanta

Deliverance was as much a part of Medieval life as it had been in Biblical times.

And when Our Lady finally spared the Bergamaschi any more suffering from the Plague in the 12th century they built this basilica to her.

Of course, all of this speaks to us in 2020 louder than ever.

Good neighbours

They’ll make a statue of me

Matteo, my Visit Bergamo guide, recalled the only sounds back in March when the city was in quarantine – the sirens of ambulances and the whirring of helicopters.

He told me of a citizen stuck in his house with his Covid-hit ageing father, unable to get help.

When he saw a report of a man who had died in the nearby town of Brescia, leaving behind a half-tank of unused oxygen.

He made his way to Brescia, found the house, asked and was given the tank, although, alas, he could not save his father.

Everything in the garden is getting rosier again

Every Bergamasque has a story of loss and suffering but for Matteo, the best response is a return to the life they know and love.

For Italians that means their famous five-course meals.

Food for thought

And there are lots more courses to come

The centrepiece of which at the Trattoria Sant’Ambroeus in Citta Alta is their special ravioli, casoncelli dei sant ambroeus.

Stuffed pasta with sausage, breadcrumbs, parsley, eggs and garlic and cheese…

All washed down with the best Valcalepio rosso Riserva doc Tenuta Castello di Grumello del Monte.

I sauntered to the city walls and La Marianna for their signature milky scoop of ice cream heaven, stracciatella.

Plenty polenta

And, of course, for Lombardy that was only lunch. Dinner in the roof garden of the plush Excelsior San Marco Hotel in Citta Bassa brought five more courses.

In future, those bustling crowds will return.

But that night, the restaurant was an encouraging two-thirds occupancy with social distancing in place.

And even a puppy at the next table enjoyed himself and heeded the rules.

He was a Bergamasque, after all.

Trip notes

Putting the fun into funicular

I was a guest of Visit Bergamo, booking platform Omio and Ryanair. He stayed at the Hotel Excelsior San Marco 

Need to know

Bergamo currently sits in the yellow zone, the lowest of the three tiers Italy has been applying since early November.

This means restaurants and bars open till 6pm, shops are open, ski resorts / pools / gym / museums closed, people can move freely. The other zones are red (strictest) and orange (medium).

Travel into Bergamo

involves providing the results of a negative Covid test taken within 72 hours of arrival.

Or you can get an airport test on arrival and quarantine for 48 hours while waiting for the results.

Any travellers will currently need to self-isolate on return..

Africa, America, Countries, Culture, Europe, Food, Food & Wine, Ireland

All our Christmases

And because you know exactly what I want you’ve only sent me a few of my favourite places…. and how they do Christmas.

We wish you a braai Christmas

South Africa: They do things differently in South Africa which you find out early when a local puts ice in your glass of white wine.

Being in the Southern Hemisphere where Christmas falls in the summer you might find yourself at a braai, Afrikans for barbecue.

Where there’s no shortage of meaty delights, there’s plenty of fruit on the side with watermelon a Christmas favourite.

As a Watermelini aperitif… just open the link and the magic will happen.

Which the Assistant Food & Beverage Manager Ashwin Rysn (and there must be some Irish in them with that name).

At the Saxon Hotel Villas and Spa outside Johannesburg, will serve you up.

Galicious Galicia

Galicia: And you’ll not be surprised to hear that you’ll get a fishie on your dishie at A Quinta da Auga

So that’ll be the Galician clams, sea urchins and red (si) cauliflower on Christmas Eve.

This being North-West Spain, which I know only too well from my Camino you’ll be lured in with very hot capons.

In this case it’s Galician nut-stuffed capon chicken on Christmas Day.

And prawn and saffron ‘pil pil’, oysters, blue lobster and Galician beef roll on New Year’s Eve.

Rounded off with the traditional 12 grapes at midnight.

Big Appletini… or Tequilini?

Lorra bottle

New York: And a hint here for the Son and Heir.

He bas taken over the mantle of Cocktail King and has a bottle of Tequila with the cap off in the kitchen.

This one, Tropic in Wonderland, comes to us courtesy of The Peninsula New York.  And

Peninsula New York recipes copy.

And if that has you salivating, try this recipe that they’ve given us…

A Salad of Charred Chicory, Butternut Squash, Fennel, Buttermilk Dressing and Everything Spiced Prawn.

And a decadent Roasted Whole L. I Duck Pastrami with Roasted Apple Gastrique.

See, I promised you apples.

Countries, Culture, Food, Food & Wine, Uncategorized

Ready, steady GOAT… racing in Tobago

You would easily miss the ‘No squatting’ sign on Englishman’s Bay in the Caribbean island of Tobago.

The fictional seafarer Robinson Crusoe did, before going on to spend 28 years doing just that, as a castaway here.

Daniel Defoe’s literary hero has been a source of enduring fascination for the past 300 years.

Defoe, who drew on many shipwreck stories of the time – tells us that Crusoe’s vessel sank within sight of ‘the great island of Trinidad’.

Logic dictates that can only have been its sister island Tobago.

The same logic means you can discount the rival claim from the island formerly known as Mas a Tierra, off the coast of Chile.

Which the Chilean government opportunistically renamed Isla Robinson Crusoe in 1966.

Beach life

It’s hard to know if Crusoe would recognise Tobago today.

His first challenge, of course, after making shore back in 1719 would have been to find food.

And through fortune, or good judgment, he managed to avoid the yellow berries on the beach – the ones my host warns me to stay away from.

Instead, Crusoe would have shaken the trees for coconuts and bananas.

Fruits of land and sea

And picked from mango groves, gladly living off the fruits of the land and the sea.

I’m a guest of the Tobago Tourism Agency and enjoy similar spoils at a range of restaurants.

The sort where the fish are close enough to jump out of the sea and onto your plate.

And where the owners are friendly enough for you to call them Auntie Alison or Uncle Kenneth.

The island of Tobago has been ‘settled’ 32 times including, randomly, by Latvians.

In an island just 12kms wide you’re never too far from the sea, or a breathtaking view of it.

In search of locals, whose ancestors were here long before Crusoe, we head for the rainforest, and its bird and animal sanctuaries.

Where hummingbirds, mockingbirds, back hawks and woodpeckers are in good voice.

Attenborough‘s pal

And where Crusoe would have learnt, as I do, of the natural healing power of plants.

My guides include rainforest expert William Slim, who counts David Attenborough as an admirer; bird expert.

Ean Mackay www.adventure-ecovillas.com and animal conservationists Ian Wright and Roy Collins.

I am particularly taken by the magical properties of the cocoa plant.

And by another called ‘roucou’ or achiote (Bixa orellana) which contains a dye which will turn your beard ginger (I bet Crusoe did the same).

Plus a plant that cures the flu.

In February, Tobagonians come out for carnival, the Caribbean’s oldest of its type, dating back to the slave trade era.

During which they go limin’ (pre-drinking), and chippin’ (a rhythmic sliding strut performed by revellers as they follow a band).

They practise for it all year round.

Every visitor to Tobago should make time to stop at Sunday School in Bucoo on the south of the island.

Not a true Sunday school, but a vibrant street party featuring steelpan and soca (soul of calypso) music.

For which the whole of the island comes out to dance and drink rum punch into the wee small hours.

Soca star

Soca, the soundtrack to Tobago, comes in many guises – from old-school kaiso (west African-influenced)…

To power Soca (fast-paced) and the Christmas favourite Parang, heavily influenced by nearby Venezuela.

Waterholics, a local water activities company, brings tourists by boat to Princess Margaret’s honeymoon spot, Nylon Pool.

Which she once declared were as clear as her nylon stockings (€109pp ilovetobagott.com)

Nylon Pool has the added advantage of being a raised sandbank amid deeper water, so you can have a bit of fun.

Standing around in the sea fir afternoon drinks, and I guess this is exactly what the party-loving royal did.

Christmas party

Amid Tobago’s 30C temperatures don’t be surprised to find a Santa in a festive T-shirt on the beach, and a No Man’s Land…

A small, sandy island which my boat party drops anchor on for our own bespoke Christmas party.

I suspend disbelief and indulge in rum punch instead of a sherry and mahi-mahi (like swordfish) instead of turkey.

Perhaps Tobago’s biggest distraction comes in the form of racing goats, who during my visit are in training for the Buccoo Goat Race Festival that takes place each Easter.

The ways of a nanny or billy goat were well known to Crusoe, of course, whose efforts in raising the big kids were chronicled in his adventures.

In Crusoe’s absence, though, we are fortunate to have jockey Levi, who shows me the ropes, and how to handle my giddy goat Bandanaman.

Which has a loose-fitting cord around its neck.

The starter shouts: ‘Ready, Steady. Goat’, or at least I do, and we’re pff.

I’m a natural, letting Bandanaman lead me 100 metres up the grass track near the football pitch.

Which just happens to be the hallowed ground upon which former Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke first paraded his skills.

Today, though, it is Yorke’s former mentor Terry Williams holding the fort, flying kites with his young son Elijah.

Lie down and think of Tobago

It looks hard work in this heat, but after my exertions with the goats, I welcome the prospect of a cool down.

On an island where all beaches are public, you are spoilt for choice – from Lover’s Bay and Pirate’s Bay, to Crown Point’s Store Bay Beach.

Where the Trinis (Trinidadians) will pop over on a 20-minute flight, just for the afternoon.

It is on Pirate’s Bay beach that I meet a German party, who emerge, almost Crusoelike from the thickets, having walked the width of the island.

From Scarborough, its largest town.

A kindlier man might have given up their hammock but I have difficulty in getting out of mine.

My last day I spend as Crusoe might have done, in reverence to the Divine Creator – partaking of a full-throated spiritual singalong at the Bread of Life Ministries.

Which is a Pentecostal church near my hotel in Crown Point.

But while Crusoe’s most solemn wish would have been to be rescued, mine is that no big bird ever arrives to fly me off my fantasy island.

The brief

Getting there:

Fly from Dublin to London Gatwick and onwards to Tobago with British Airways (from €560 return www.ba.com) or Virgin Atlantic (from €586 return) www.virginatlantic.com.

Getting around:

Drivers and guides can easily be arranged at hotels to get you around Tobago. Car rental starts at about €50 per day.

Where to eat:

Mount Irvine Bay Resort has its own seaside golf course while for those whose favourite hole is the 19th, the resort serves the best rum punches on the island (doubles from €84 www.mtirvine.com.

Castara Retreats is a hidden gem with its hammocks on the balcony, buzzing village feel and bonfire parties on the beach (doubles from €777) www.castararetreats.com.

Kariwak Holistic Haven is near the airport, the bars, restaurants and casino of the ‘strip’ (doubles from €263. www.kariwak.com.

Where to dine:

The Blue Crab is Robinson, Scarborough, once featured on television chef Ainslie Harriott’s show, Caribbean Kitchen. Try the chicken curry www.tobagobluecrab.com.

Jemma’s Tree House on Fourmi Road, Hermitage, where you’ll share your table space with hummingbirds but that’s what comes when you dine in a treehouse.

Order the swordfish – so good they named it twice.

For more information on Tobago see www.visittobago.gov.tt.

Asia, Countries, Culture, Deals, Food, Food & Wine, Ireland, UK

Hungry and Thursday – Wendy Wu Ar Ay!

And this torturous pun is to entice you into the latest from Wendy Wu for 2021 with, eh, Cornish scones, jam and clotted cream.

No me either, but I’ll never turn my nose up at what Wendy and the gang send, with their Chinese New Year lunch in Dublin the stuff of legend.

So before we savour what Wendy Wu Tours have to offer in Asia, which will be the go-to destination in 2021, let’s try and explain Cornish scones.

Because this is a thing, with the English West Country counties of Cornwall and Devon taking very different stances on how they spread jam and cream on a scone.

The cats that got the cream

Jam today: The Cornish way. www.visitcornwall.com

Cornwall: Our friends in England’s most westerly county where they even boast their own Cornish Celtic language swear by jam first and then cream.

Wham jam: And the way the Devonians like it. www.visitdevon.co.uk

Devon: The Devonians, in contrast, go the other way, cream on the bottom with a topping of cream.

Me, I don’t take cream, which meant more for the Scary One and Daddy’s Little Girl.

Twenty-Wendy One

A golden sun over Asia

But I digress, Wendy Wu Tours held a webinar today and showed again why they are the cream of the crop when it comes to Asian travel.

Wendy is all about the giving and to mark 26 years in business, which isn’t even a special milestone although still, kudos, she has this for us, her friends she invited here.

Free return flights on 26 of their best tours worldwide for 2021 and 2022 which will give you savings of £800.

And you must get one of those hats

Including Japan Uncovered, a 17-day Classic group tour, Angkpr to the Bay, a 17-day Vietnam tour from £2890pp, Wonders of China, a £2880pp 16-dayer.and Road to Samarkand, a 20 days Road to Samarkand tour of Central Asia which will cost you £4310pp.

Plenty to chew on with your Cornish scones and tea.

Countries, Culture, Europe, Food, Food & Wine

A boy named Tiramisu

They’re the kind of fingers I like.

Ladyfingers, dipped in coffee, layered with a whipped mixture of eggs, sugar and mascarpone cheese, flavoured with cocoa,

And something to keep my mind off my own broken fingertips and nails.

Our friends at Travel Weekly and The Italian Tourist Board have been regaling us with the charms and i cibi of Il Bel Paese all week.

And yesterday the Veneto region laid out everybody’s favourite dinner party dessert for us.

On Zoom (because we didn’t have smellavision).

Tiramisu it transpires has been with us for rather less time than I had thought.

Being served up for the first time at the end of the Sixties.

By chef Roberto Linguanotto at Le Beccherie in Treviso on Christmas Eve.

Whose Tiramisu is it anyway?

And I wasn’t going to be the one to raise with the good people of the Veneto region that our Zoom hosts for the previous day Friuli Venezia Giulia had a claim.

From the Vetturino restaurant in Pieris from 1938.

Anyhoos, as they never say in Northern Italy, tiramisu is celebrated all the world over.

And it’s not just between the regions that it gets competitive with some believing it goes back way further than that to Siena in honour of Grand Duke Cosimo III.

The World Cup

And there is even a Tiramisu World Cup.

The winner of which is uno Fabio Peyla.

Fabio generously treated us all to his creation on our meeting.

Unfortunately though we could not reach into the screen and taste.

Prosecco, another Veneto favourite was.

Just the ‘pick me up’ as Tiramisu means in Italiano for someone who has just broken his fingertips.

You want to make your own, then my go-to baking site is BBC Good Food. Who am I kidding she’s in the kitchen!

Venice is, of course, the jewel of the Veneto region but in truth it is just the most glittering in a crown that is embedded with other gems I’ve found such as Padova.

While Treviso, Verona and Venice’s piccolo fratello Choggia should all be explored.

 

 

 

Adventure, Countries, Culture, Europe, Food, Food & Wine

Bergamo – time to say goodbye

Time to say goodbye, Paesi che non ho mai, veduto e vissuto con te, Adesso si, il vivro, con te partiro, su navi per mari che, io lo so, no, no, non esistono piu, it’s time to say goodbye. – Andrea Boccelli

Una ciocolatta di caldo densa at Balzer in Bergamo

Ciao Bergamo e grazie mille. Molamia, miei amici, stay strong my friends.

It’s time to say goodbye, although on my terms and not Signore Johnson’s.

I have made it my mission to come to Bergamo since the start of the outbreak to find out why the pandemic came here first.

What it was like for the Bergamoschi to live through.

And something a little stronger

And how they are living today and how they see tomorrow.

Peace to Bergamo

The overriding feeling I have found is one of peace (except for the raucous ragazzi e ragazze outside my window at midnight although this is how the young should be.)

I spend my last afternoon reading the stories on the picture boards in the piazza they are using as a testing centre.

And, of course, nothing tells a story quite like a picture, or a photograph.

Mars, Venus and love in Accademia Carrera

I wish mia moglie, the long insufferable (sorry, suffering) Mrs M was here to put her award-winning photo skills to work.

A work of art

I have come too from the Academia Carrera where I have been enjoying Titian, Canaletto and trying out Lotto (no, not the lottery, but the artist.

I have just enough time to treat myself to my Italian guilt pleasure, una ciocolatta di calda densa, a hot chocolate that wants to be a dessert.

Una fotographia di Bergamo in Covid

At a Bergamo institution Balzer cafe. Near my 4* Hotel Excelsior San Marco.

And here’s to beer

And then a Grumge IPA at Gate 11 in the airport.

I plan to have molti.

I am going back to a madhouse. And Britain is not much better.

Adventure, Countries, Culture, Europe, Flying, Food, Food & Wine, Ireland, UK

Bergamo – alta e bassa

What’s Italian for phew’ I’ve been walked off my piedi today in Bergamo Citt’alta e Citta Bassa (City High and City Low).

And phew too… Johnson, Schnapps and Co. are too late to quarantine me on my return. I was always flying back tomorrow evening anyway, so Sunday is troppo tardi, idioti!

David and Goliath: The Basilica

That’s if I don’t decide to quarantine myself anyway with the Bergamoschi (the people that is, not the local sheepdogs who share their name. Although…!)

La Prima Citta

Bergamo, as we all know by now, is where Covid-19 entered Europe.

To the greater glory of God

But they have taken the worst it can offer and are coming out the other side, and will prevail.

Or as they say here ‘Molamia’ (stay strong).

Chin-Chin

The Bergamoschi have done just that since Covid visited in March and shut the town off from the rest of Lombardy, Italy, and the world for four months.

To the greater glory of beer: With Matteo

But not from each other… or not in the ways that matter.

Matteo, my tour guide volunteered to help out the old and infirm.

Restaurateur Niccolo the same with his original ice cream and food.

Stay strong: The Bergamo credo

And model citizen Emmanuele, who lives in a palazzo on the hill too, as a volunteer.

All are heroes… and all Bergamoschi are an example to us all

La Storia

Perhaps it is in the blood. It is certainly in their history.

I am standing in the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Ciitt’alta.

The Bergamo bear: With Matteo and Atalanta Bear

Where the Bergamoschi built a new church after they were delivered from the plague in the 12th century.

And filled it with frescoes, magnificent paintings and special picture boards of other scenes where humanity prevailed over adversity.

Noah anyone?

Pasta Basta

Ma mi scusi. I have just eaten my own weight in food and drunk today, a small lago di vino and must now repair to my bed in the Hotel Excelsior San Marco.

I scream for ice cream: With Niccolo

A Domani.

And if you want to slip on the Italian Boot to follow in my footsteps, here’s my Via Francigena, into Rome

While as the Veneto region is just over the horizon to the east, here’s the City of Frescoes Padova.

INCONTRA A VOI NELLA VIA