Today I passed by San Pellegrino Terme again. Such an enormous plant. Imagine all the water bottles that are sent around the world from here.
I had to change to another bus in San Giovanni Bianco, which required waiting for two hours. A hub town, huge trucks passed by the crossroads, making the otherwise pleasant bus stop quite noisy.
I didn’t have much of a chance to roam around town, as I had my enormous suitcase with me. The owner of the bar at the crossroads kindly offered to store my luggage for me, but I didn’t want to go too far away from it. After I am settled, I will return, as this town has the nearest bank and a larger grocery store.
It also has very inexpensive wine. Can you imagine 3.5 Euro for a Prosecco? 2.6 Euro for a glass of Lugana?
The bus finally arrived, a small van. Many people helped me get my luggage on and organized. It was quite a squeeze.
The ride is quite like going up Mount Tam, but the road is more narrow. We passed water rushing through the deep 3-kilometer-long gorge, the Orrido del Val Taleggio. The gorge long served to block off the Val Taleggio from much of the world.
Finally in Sottochiesa, I found my lodging. My apartment is of a vintage era but quite large. I didn’t notice the patched crack in the wall until I saw this photo. The cross may be meant as a diversion. The apartment is quite comfortable and will do fine for the duration, despite the stairs required to reach it.
I took a walk around the village of Sottochiesa, a quite small village that can be walked in a few minutes. The church sits at the higher end of the main street.
Nearby is the Piazza San Marco, a small area with a bench and a podium on top of which sits the lion of St. Mark, the symbol of Venice. which in the past ruled over this area. It’s interesting to see the far reach of the Venetians, who fought with the Lombards over this area and won for a while.
On the bus coming up were several Africans. I thought it strange to see them in such a remote part of Italy, but then last year I also saw Africans in the most unlikely places. I thought they might be migrant workers, but here in Sottochiesa a building has been set aside as a refuge for immigrants from all over, not just Africa. The newcomers have a significant presence in the town, outnumbering the residents.
The owner of the only grocery store in town told me that the village has 70 residents and now 90 immigrants, who have not been welcomed by everyone. The grocer also told me that church and political leaders are making money off the deal.
The newcomers play ball in the space outside their building, hang out around Piazza San Marco, and walk up and down the main street from the grocery store to their building, some carrying bundles on their heads.
On the outskirts of town, the land turns to meadows, pastures and farming structures.
Paved paths in town are well-maintained, like this street named for the Fallen of All the Wars.
A few works of former art residents are found throught the town, such as these beautiful little drawings in a shop window.
This evening one of the residents had her 25th birthday, so all six of us went for drinks and dinner at one of the only two bar/restaurants in town: me and a Brooklynite, a South Korean, an Italian, a Scot and another Brit. All congenial. I enjoyed my first Campari Spritz of the trip. More to come, surely. Tomorrow I will explore the greater area, as the grocery owner as offered me a ride to the nearby town of Pizzino when he delivers his goods in the morning.