She told me that what she missed the most was that in winter, when the day was sunny, that the actual sun actually warmed the landscape.

Because in the North, in the U.S., a super sunny day can also be subzero, fahrenheit.

What a novel idea…that the sun is warm?!

We were walking down from the Città Alta, the Upper city of Bergamo. We had gone up on the Funicolare and were now walking down on the top of the city walls. On the landscape were the close Alps and farther afoot, we could see the Appennini…the mountains that run right down the center of Italy.

When we got to the more modern part of the Lower City, she began to point things out.
I was looking to score some dried porcini mushrooms and a small bit of salami, some for E and some for S for their arrival next week.

We had spent the past few hours in the Città Alta…seeing the church from 1324, the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, which had been rebuilt by a man who, by reputation, was overly endowed, overly virile. A man who had three of what most men only have as a pair.

In that stunning place, in two days, her infant son, born in the United States to Italian parents, would be baptized.

We had seen a lot of places…truly…but this one, the center of religious life in the Città Alta…was the most inspiring.

I was speechless.

We looked at the cisterns. Super amazing old Roman ones. In the remnants of one in particular, a woman sat and made rubber head masks…of white rabbits.

We ate lunch at a ristorante which, at the time she was in high school, was just white walls and fluorescent lights. Now we were surrounded by creamy plaster walls, woodwork and fine windows.

And we dined on creamy polenta.
Creamy, dreamy polenta.

I ate mine with mushrooms…and a side of steamed vegetables, lightly sprinkled with olive oil tasting like the first day of spring.

I asked her…what she filled her suitcases with when she went back to the States. Was it dried porcini mushrooms?

No, she said. I fill my suitcase with polenta flour.
Yes. Polenta flour.

Lower Bergamo from the top of Upper Bergamo, La Città Alta.  Photo credit:  E White

Now we are again, walking down to the Lower City. I will show you where my mom and I go, she said.
Then, subito, suddenly, she points…

This, she said…this is the place where you buy sweaters. Let’s go in.
Then this, she said…this is the shoe place. And you will be given discounts.
And this is the handbag place, she said.

Everything so very simple. Who knew? All you had to do was…to grow up there.

Then she told me…back in Milan…go to this place for shoes.
At this place you can get really wonderful underthings in wool or silk…beautiful and not expensive.

And for sheets and housewares? Go there.

Wait — where was she nine weeks ago when I was so lost?

When the only one to save me was

Grazie, grazie, P.

This and cover photo both of Città Alta — upper Bergamo.  Photo credit:  R Coff





  1. Is Bergamo the source for bergamot, the beautifully fragranced stuff that goes into tea? (Earl Grey?) What did you buy? Cita Alta, I’ve never been there! How is the weather?

    • Bergamotto — the citrus whose leaves are used as Bergamot, grows in Calabria, in the South. One or two things may have found their way into my possession. I could not believe the prices for the quality. Day began in mid-30’s and when sun came out —> 50!

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