0572 Meeting an old friend in Bergamo (Ita 072—new)

Bergamo Travel Blog

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Massimo picks me up at the train station and shows me true Italian hospitality.  After two months of just showing up in random cities where I don’t know a soul, it’s a refreshing change.  He drives me up to the Cita Alta--  the hilltop walled fortress of Bergamo where we visit several magnificent cathedrals.  We climb up to the top of the bell tower to get a panoramic view of the city… Just watch out--  when that bell starts ringing--  be sure you’re not directly under it! It will knock you off your feet!

 

In one of the cathedrals there’s a shrine to a son Bergamo is very proud of:  The pope who oversaw the Second Vatican Council and helped to reform and modernize the Catholic church…

 

Massimo and I talked about a lot of things.

  When I first met him back in January down in Senegal, he was courting a Senegalese girl.  Now he’s planning on marrying her.  So we had a lot of talks about African and Italian culture, interracial marriages and religion…

 

He also helped answer a lot of questions I still had about Italian history and culture. I’ve found throughout my trip, Italians feel very at ease poking fun at their own country and talk freely about its shortcomings--  the divisions in the country, the north versus south, the mismanagement of the government….

 

I also enjoyed my first “real” meal here in Italy after a month of pretty much just eating canned food and pizza by the slice… A great afternoon and evening talking and exchanging ideas.  Despite the fact that we only met once and talked for less than an hour last time, it feels like I’m meeting up with a lifelong friend…

 

Next Day…

 

Next day we come back to Bergamo to watch a Bergamo versus AC Milan game.

 I haven’t been to a big sports event in over 20 years so I’m pretty excited about it.  Massimo has a bit of a dilemma:  his hometown team is playing against the team he’s always supported:  AC Milan.  I ask why he can’t just root for Bergamo--  just for today…

 

“Here in Italy there are two things that you never change:  your mother and your football team… You can change your wife, but not your football team…” he explains.

 

It’s a fun game to watch--  especially seeing Ronaldinho in action.  But the real experience is being among the audience.  See it seems that Italians bottle up all their frustrations during the whole week, and on Sunday afternoon let it all out in the football stadium.

  Otherwise respectable bankers and office workers scream out the most creative insults I’ve ever heard--  I tell you, I learned a lot of Italian in those 2 hours!

 

And it’s not just the men.  This is a family affair.  Women scream insults just as loud as the men--  and young boys are also being apprenticed in the art of Creative Insulting of Football Player and Refs… On one corner a couple of guys wave an enormous inflatable male reproductive organ whenever the opposing team comes to make a corner kick… It’s all a hilarious glimpse into another side of Italian culture…

 

Massimo explains some of the insults to me. For example, when one player is called “terrone” or “clod of dirt”, it’s a reference to the fact that he’s from the more agricultural south of Italy


Finally the game is over and we head out--  I suddenly realize that I haven’t yet officially parkbenched Bergamo, and tomorrow when I come through on the way to the airport I won’t have my guitar with me.

  Unfortunately I didn’t think of this yesterday when we were in the Cita Alta, so I guess I’ll have to settle for a very generic clip in a park…

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Bergamo
photo by: dinara_k