Day 2 -San Pellegrino Terme

This morning I got up early to take the bus to San Pellegrino Terme. There the Brembano Museum has many displays on the ecosystems of the area which I thought might be interesting and useful.

Unfortunately, its website stated it was only open on Saturday from 10am to noon, which meant getting up early to catch the 8:15am bus.

And I missed it, so I had to wait nearly an hour for the next one.

The benches at the bus depot reflect Bergamo’s history with COVID. When the pandemic broke out here, it was little understood. So many people died, there was not enough space in the cemeteries. Bodies had to be shipped to other areas for burial.

The drive up to San Pelligrino is beautiful.

I would have liked to visit the San Pellegrino water bottling plant, but tours are not available.

The river is wide and rushing. The wind fresh. I saw some fishing and kayaking in the waters.

The Grand Hotel, once resplendent in the Belle Epoque with high society vacationers, is now only open for an occasional tour.

When a landmark tree fell in a wind storm, the community decided to create a sculptural piece in the hotel’s memory.

The museum I wanted to visit was closed!! despite the notice on its website. Its hours changed for July and August, but the website was not updated. I was annoyed to have made the trip in vain, but the woman in the tourist office gave me a very informative booklet that covers the information I was looking for, so not all was lost. Lesson learned: call ahead to confirm hours.

I decided to take the funicular to an area called La Vetta.

This funicular runs without a human operator.

Quite a nice view from up above.

Since I was there, I decided to visit the much-touted Grotte del Sogno, the Dream Caves. I knew that reservations were needed, but I thought I could just talk my way in. It was a rather long walk (for me) in the mid-day sun on a paved road then a rocky trail through the woods. Aside from a few runners and cyclists, I was the only one on the trail. Placards along the way described local fauna, the woodpeckers, deer and brown bears. Railings throughout gave me comfort.

But hah! I’ll just have to dream about what’s inside the Dream Caves.

Many of the homes above San Pellegrino display the Liberty Style, all the rage in Italy at the turn of the 20th century.

But there was not much else to see in La Vetta, so I headed back down on the funicular. To my great pleasure, I came across a festival of food from around the world. Greek souvlaki, Indian tikka, Chinese ravioli (dumplings), Spanish paella, and much more.

With so many booths it was hard to choose, but I decided on a Brazilian panino picanha and a mojito, which I felt I deserved after the long hike in the sun. I have taken over 10,000 steps on each of the last two days.

The Sicilian booth also grabbed me. I turned away from the arancini and chocolate cannoli and went for some cookies. How could I resist?

Unfortunately the bag of cookies was missing when I got home. I must have set them down to get out my bus ticket and forgot them. Not that I needed them. At all.

The bus trip back to Bergamo was enhanced by the George Clooney look-alike bus driver .

Back in Bergamo Alta, I came across a mini crafts fair. So many booties!

Saturday brought out the tourists, mostly Italians and other Europeans. If it’s like this in Bergamo, what can it be like in Venice, Florence or Rome? I shudder to imagine.

I rested for a bit, then went back out to visit the cathedral museum. It is an archaeological site beneath the cathedral showing artifacts and structures from the various past eras, including traces of a Roman road with stores and houses.

The museum also displays objects from the cathedral’s treasures, which includes relics such as this holy thorn from Christ’s crown. The relic has a long and intriguing history, described in a Bergamo newspaper article a while back. You might want to use Google translate to trace its way from Jerusalem to the Bergamo diocese.

Lots of finery, silver and, of course, textiles, which show mind-boggling detail.

This image measures a little over an inch wide.

After the museum visit, it was pleasant to sit out on the piazza and listen to a violinist play both classical and modern pieces.

On the way back to my lodging, I passed the lions who always call to me. I finally gave in and took their photos. They are the white lion guards at the back portal of the Basilica and match their red counterparts at the front.

Tomorrow I may explore Bergamo Basso.

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