Since our rainy day at the Duomo, we have had nothing but beautiful weather and we have tried to take advantage of it…..well at least until the last couple of days…we have had a lazy weekend!
As noted in my last post, we were on the train to Bergamo, a city about an hour from here. There is the lower city which is more modern and then up a hill – we rode the bus up and the funiculare down (no shame, we still got in 5 miles of walking!) is the historic village. The hardline picture was taken looking up to it.
Some long time readers may recall that originally we were going to stay in a village outside Bergamo (we couldn’t find an Airbnb in our price range in Bergamo proper) but when we realized that our Ryan Air flights were flying in and out of Milano’s main airport (Malpensa) and not the secondary one near Bergamo, we changed our apartment. After visiting Bergamo we wish we had of left well enough alone….trust me, we like the apartment here and Cinzia our host is the BEST – we are up to four dishes of pasta from her…but we both said we think Bergamo could be on the list if we decide to live in Europe long term and that Italy is where we want to live. But that is getting the cart way in front of the horse.
After taking the bus from the lower city railway station to its end at the Citi Alta (upper city), we then took a funicular up to the very highest part of town. Not much there, a couple of restaurants, a pretty park and what must be high end houses given the cars parked in their driveways – we saw a Tesla and an Audi 8 among others. But the views were incredible.
We then took the funiculare back down to the Citta Alta where we wandered to lunch at a TripAdvisor recommended restaurant. Our dishes were tasty and it was a lovely day in their garden-although we wished we had of gotten the table in the shade but we were beat to it. Most of the other guests appeared to be workers and Italian so I think we weren’t in a tourist trap.
We half and halfed a penne pasta with ragu and ravioli with butter and sage for our first course and then we both had polenta (Italian grits) which is one of the traditional dishes here. It was the side to pork cutlets.
We didn’t have dessert at the restaurant but instead bought the specialty pastry here, called..wait for it…Polenta! It is actually a small cake covered with something to make it look like polenta and then has marizpan decorations supposedly representing the pork that is typically on top of the polenta. The one we bought was chocolate and orange and was very tasty!
After lunch we headed generally downhill through the upper city’s main square, by both it’s cathedral and basicillca and wandered the narrow picturesque streets.
I was most intrigued by the many decorative tapestries. They were everywhere there wasn’t a painting or gold leaf!
We ended up at the Funiculare which we rode down to the lower city. From there we walked down the main street back towards the train station where we caught our ride back home.
It was a lovely day and I certainly hope we get to revisit Bergamo and spend more than just a day there.
As mentioned previously, Cinzia our Airbnb hostess (and her helper Isabella) have been great. Isabella is always available via WhatsApp to answer a question (she is half english and half italian so speaks both beautifully) and Cinzia has brought us dinner a total of four times (so far-fingers crossed). In addition to the pasta pomodorro the arrival night, she has made us penne with ragu, risotto milanese (saffron) and our favorite, Pizzocheri.
This traditional dish of the mountains is made with buckwheat pasta, potatoes and cabbage. After they are almost cooked, they are removed from the boiling water and layered in the serving dish with Valapaian cheese – Cessera is the one Cinzia used and placed over the still hot water pot to stay warm/melt the cheese. While that is happening, you sautee’ a couple of smashed gloves of garlic in butter. When the butter is almost brown, you take out the garlic and pour the butter over the pasta and serve. OMG, is it ever good….not necessarily pretty but so damn tasty!
Anyway, we talked about cooking dinner or lunch for Cinzia but after discussing with Isabella, elected to take her to lunch in a restaurant here in town. We had a great meal and great conversation in English, Italian and even a little bit of french at one point! LOL. The food was delicious. Traditional with a twist. Very fresh ingredients. Mike and I hope to go back before we leave next week.
A salad of roasted root vegetables, asparagus on a smear of goat cheese
Clay’s Pork cheek tagliatelle
Mike’s risotto with chicken ah jus
Mike’s “bbq” sausages and roasted potatoes
After this day of rest, if hosting a lunch out and if doing laundry is rest (actually it isn’t so bad, throw them in the machine, hang them on the drying rack on the balcony and within a few hours they are dry…..not sure why we have dryers in the US….I swear it doesn’t take that much longer…as long as it’s not raining!) we headed to Lake Como the next day for lunch with Amal and George (the twins were being fully nannied -as it should be, so we didn’t meet them).
It takes about an hour on the train to reach the City of Como which is at one end of the upside down Y shaped lake of the same name. From there we took a slow ferry (not sure why George didn’t pick us up in his speedboat) to Bellagio the village that is located at the intersection of the two legs of the aforementioned Y. The ferry stops at many villages along the way. It wasn’t until we got to Bellagio and were buying our return tickets that we saw the sign (we both swear there wasn’t one in Como) for the day pass which allows you to get on and off. Oh well, next time.
We arrived at Bellagio and death marched (uphill!) to another TripAdvisor recommended restaurant. Mike and I split a salad, Mike had a delicious wood fired pizza with schmorza cheese and I had gnocci (tiny potato dumplings – should be cloudlike, these unfortunately weren’t) in a gorgonzola (blue cheese) sauce. For dessert I had panna cotta…yummy.
We then walked back into Bellagio and wandered through town to La Punta (the very tip of the Y where the two legs of the lake come together.
The views everywhere (on the ferry, in the village, on the shore) are incredible – The beautiful clear lake surrounded by steep hills leading up to the snow covered Alps. It is amazing to be sitting having lunch and being warm in the sun and feeling like in just a few minutes you could be in the snow….you can’t, I know, but it feels like they are “right there”.
That’s Amal’s and George’s place on the left
After walking back uphill from La Punta into Bellagio, we caught the ferry back to Como (and the other 14 stops it made). We arrived there and wandered the older part of the city. It is lovely.
As it was getting late, we decided to have Apertivo. This is the Italian version of Happy Hour – around 6 or so, the cafes and bars, offer either a buffet of small dishes or in the case of the one in Como, bring them to your table. This is included in the price of your cocktail…in the case of Como, each of our drinks were 5 euro. So for less than $15 we each had a drink and all that food and got to people watch for as long as we could before we had to catch the train back!
On Saturday we took the train into Milan and explored the canal district – Navigli for a bit. It has become the young and happening trendy part of Milan. Lots of bars, restaurants and nightclubs.
My planning didn’t work out quite right so we got there a little too early for Apertivo so we ended up having two drinks a piece…..no harm no foul except to the budget! Drinks here were 9 euros but the ambiance and people watching was probably better than in Como so it all evens out I guess.
One day…I forget when..oh wait, it was after our restaurant lunch, Mike and took the long (long) way home and discovered a lovely walk along the canal that runs east west through Palazzolo (the village where we are) that intersects another walk along the river that runs north south. Amazingly, they cross, but do not combine. Anyway, unlike Valencia where the parks are maintained like crazy, these here are a bit overgrown but still a nice respite from the hard concrete and tall buildings.
We had big plans on Sunday to go to the local Bieriera (beer hall) but low and behold, it isn’t open after 3 on Sunday….unlike the US where a Sunday afternoon if beer drinking is a great way to spend a beautiful day. Anyway, we both have truly enjoyed relaxing, reading and NOT having to hate Sundays anymore because they are the day before Monday.
Tomorrow we are headed to Genova (1.5 hours by train) to have lunch at Clemson’s Villa where I spent the fall of 1981 (jeez I am old). The now retired cook, Angela and housekeeper, Andriena are going to come back for lunch so it should be a fun time. We also are planning a day trip to Firenze (Florence) on Thursday to have lunch at our favorite restaurant in Italy…hopefully it will live up to our memory from Mike’s 50th birthday trip five years ago. Stay tuned to find out!
ps. Apparently hover-rounds have arrived here too!