Today I finally made it to the library, the Biblioteca Civica Angelo Mai, on the Piazza Vecchia. It had been closed earlier, and I wanted to make sure I saw it before I left. It is holding an exhibit on old books, including a video of a replica of the Gutenberg Press. Here are a couple of screen shots from the video.

Two presses, one for each page, and the print is done! I found the complete video here.

What the video doesn’t show is the painstaking typesetting in metal that preceded the pressing.

On my way to the Accademia Carrara, an art museum outside the walls, I came across these two young people. They approached me to participate in a survey they were doing. Of course, I said yes, always eager to be asked my opinions. They said they were Boy Scouts in English, which probably lost something in translation, but that explains their scarves and jingle jangles. Their project involves learning from talking with people as opposed to reading books.

Their questions and my answers:

What has given you surprise recently? Darn! I can’t remember my answer to this one. So elusive. So ephemeral. But it was a good answer, I’m sure.

What has made you feel alive recently? The organ concert of Bach’s Passacaglia et thema fugatum last evening at the Basilica.

What person has caused you to have a surprise recently? My Italian teacher Wendy Walsh in California recommended me to visit the Accademia Carrara without which I wouldn’t have had the surprise of meeting these two young researchers.

I asked about their recording app, which is the same one I also plan to use in my upcoming project. They recorded my answers, but pointed out that only the words would be transcribed, not my voice. Not that I care. They modeled how the iphone can be used to record interviews without being obtrusive. A fun and surprising encounter.

I headed off to the Accademia Carrara and was surprised to see the walls covered with a fragments of images from its collection collaged together.

At the start, I viewed a video describing the origins of the Accademia, and the major donors over the centuries who have built this outstanding art collection. I was glad to have audio guide, which gave exceptionally interesting descriptions.

This tarot card is a miniature work of art, especially when seen up close and with its companions. The guide mentioned that several cards from this set are in the Morgan Library in New York City. They were created for Francesco Sforza, a ruler of Milan in the Renaissance.

My favorite of the collection, Raphael’s San Sebastian, without piercing arrows and oozing blood on pallid skin. I am excited to be going to Urbino, Raphael’s birthplace, later on this trip.

The Renaissance painters painted garments in such great detail. I like to see how people dressed at the time and the enormous skill required to create their clothing and jewelry.

The Carrara also had an exhibition on the Orobie Alps, where I will be spending the next three weeks. These alps are named for a Celtic-Ligurian tribe living in the area in the Iron Age. The gorge in this painting is called the Orido della Val Taleggio, 3 km long. Although I would never think of driving through the gorge, I may try to walk it during my stay. Maybe.

A very moving video, part of the Orobie Alps exhibition, shows a man climbing a mountain peak with a reproduction of a painting on his back. The painting is part of the Accademia Carrara collection, called A Memory of Sorrow, painted in 1880 by Pelizza da Volpedo after the sudden death of his sister.

The video follows the man’s every step as he makes his way to the mountain top.

The video was made shortly after the COVID pandemic outbreak here in Bergamo as a way to bring together urban and rural communities to find courage in the face of enormous losses.

The very moving film compelled attention, as any step could mean a slip and fall. I found that it said so much more than the blocks of stone set out in the Palazzo Ragione.

I left the Accademia to search for a lunch break. On the way I passed by an area called Pignole, once, and maybe still, an area of wealthy residents. This aging door doesn’t reflect the wealth of its owners.

but behind the doors may be a setting as attractive as this entry way. Most of the Italian large palazzos give no clue as to the possible treasures behind their doors. This is now an apartment or condominium building.

Walking down to the center of Bergamo Basso, I came across this installation called Waves of Life by Finnish artist Kaarina Kaikkonen. Community members contributed clothing to the project. The placard states ‘the clothes become fragments of existence and reminders of daily stories that, as pieces of a choral mosaic, compose, binding and layering, a narration in dialogue with the life of the city, which continues to flow through the streets..” Never mind the words, I just like the way it moves. Check out the video.

A monument to the composer Gaetano Donizetti, a home boy.

I had to wait excessively long for my lunch, a Greek salad. It didn’t seem that many people were seated. Why was it taking so long? When I left, I realized the waiter had another whole set of tables to serve on another side of the cafe.

On a walk down XX Settembre, the shopping street, I purchased notebooks and a water bottle for the trip ahead.

I have been very content here in Bergamo and could stay longer, but I’ve got to move on tomorrow for the Val Taleggio. I leave it thinking of the hug relay around the Venetian walls that put Bergamo in the Guinness Book of Records. Good bye to Bergamo, with Brescia, the Italian Capital of Culture, 2023. I hope to be back someday.

1 thought on “Day 4 – Bergamo”

  1. A man climbing the Alps with a magnificent portrait on his back, “Scouts” sharing tech info with you, an aged door with the wrinkles and deteriorations of time……it shows how valuable and enriching travel can be. Thanks for sharing it.

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