Sunday, June 14, 2020

The Sweet Life

    




For the longest time, I would pass these delicious pastries in the window here in Bergamo, thinking who on earth would eat a dessert made from polenta? 










Looking at this dessert, it is shaped like polenta and the color of polenta so it must be made with polenta.





Let me back up here. Bergamo is an area known for its polenta and its found in both sweet and savory dishes. Read about it here.



I am not a big fan of polenta and typically don't tend to eat it. When I first saw these desserts, I was puzzled. Have they gone overboard? The Bergamaschi must really love their polenta.



After the lockdown, these "polenta" cakes called Polenta e Osei were displayed in the windows again. This time I said, okay, I am going to try one.  I had to know what they tasted like. I also thought if they are made with polenta, they must also be gluten-free. (I was very wrong)!!



So, I bought a mini one. 








We sliced it in half and saw there was a chocolate filling in the middle. The cake had me at the first bite.  Wow. This was NOT polenta at all. The shape of the dessert is made to resemble polenta, but that's where it ends.












When I looked up the recipe, I saw it is made with flour, hazelnuts, rum, marzipan, and zero polenta! Check out a recipe here. The taste is similar to a sponge cake and very moist. The outside is a marzipan coating rolled in yellow sugar crystals. How absolutely wrong I was and couldn't believe how stupid I was for by-passing this sweet goodness.




Needless to say, the next day, I bought an even bigger one to sample. All I could think was how did I pass this up for 4 months??!! My waist thanks me, but not my sweet tooth. 









If you visit Bergamo, be sure and try one of these. You will not be disappointed.

Friday, May 1, 2020

4 May 2020!!

   
Yesterday I went out for essentials and for the first time I was amazed at how many people were out and about. Usually, when I go out, I may see 3 or 4 people. The streets are usually deserted. 








However, 4 May is this coming Monday and I know everyone here in Bergamo is eagerly awaiting this day. I gather from the additional people out and about these last few days, they are ready!












You see, starting on 4 May one of the new orders for Phase II is we can go for a walk or a jog. This may not seem like a big deal to some, but for those of us in the heart of Bergamo, we have been waiting for a bit of a reprieve from this virus. We still cannot leave the region, need to wear a mask, and still must carry a form, however, just being able to go beyond our immediate area offers a bit of hope.











The Government has issued new orders for Phase II of the lockdown. Some restrictions are being slightly removed to prepare for this new phase. While the horrendous situation will stay with Bergamo for a long time to come, Bergamaschi are resilient and they will rise. Their city will be better than ever.











As I walked around, I saw this little girl twirling in her pink tutu and gold jacket, aware only of the beautiful days to come.















Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Hearts of Hope

   
Hearts of Hope



Most of the days here are the same. I teach online during the week, plan our groceries for 2x/week and sit in our indoor courtyard to bask in the sunshine that is only there 3 hours per day. I actually look forward to getting groceries as it gets me outside and I admit, it's getting harder and harder to be confined.







An old friend from elementary school suggested I create hearts to place around Bergamo. There were already beautiful rainbow posters made by the school children displayed around town.




Since I love doing mail art, I thought why not? I don't have a printer so I cut all my hearts from random wrapping paper and decorated them using ink pens, bits of paper, ink stamps and stencils. I made about 20 of them to begin with.  I gathered them all up with some scotch ready to post them around Citta Alta.     



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
Now, we had just gotten the notice that now we were required to wear masks whenever we went out. I was wearing them anyway as I thought if someone coughs I don't want to have any of that on me.  We are only to go out for essential items and I thought well, this is deemed essential - spreading love around Citta Alta.



So I got all donned up and put on my bandanna scarf, placed my paper mask over my bandanna, took a shopping bag, and proceeded on my way. I ran out way before I should have. I need to go make more to blanket the shops along the bottom of Citta.



Big  ❤️ to all!







Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Rise Up

   
Today was a beautiful sunny day in Bergamo and I wanted to take full advantage of what I could to maximize being outdoors. 










After all, being in a lockdown means your only outing is to get essentials so you need to make it a good one. We decided to only go out Tuesdays and Fridays to minimize the amount of contact with others. They assume everyone has been exposed in some form or another in Bergamo so I am as careful as I can. 


Yes, I cheat. Sorry, get angry at me, but we have been in a real lockdown for one month. No outdoor exercise of any kind. When I read about my friends and family that still get to go out and walk, I am mad. My other walk consists of an enclosed 25 sq meter piazza right outside my front door. I am grateful I have this private space to walk in. I would not be able to do this if it wasn't enclosed, so I thank my lucky stars I have this space.





           

That is my door. We get 2 hours                    Opposite my door to give you an idea 
of sunshine every morning!!                           of how small it is.


So, I walk slower and take the long way home to my apartment. I savor every minute of the solitude of Citta Alta and admire and notice things I never saw before. The birds are still chirping - a sure sign of Spring.


After making the rounds, the husband told me our little baker was open again. I stopped by and waited outside for my turn. When I went inside I noticed they built a huge glass shield separating them and their customers.  Any way one can make it work to keep serving customers is a win for me. I thank these shop keepers every day as I know they are risking themselves day in and day out. These shops are the lifeblood of the community and if they shut, we are all in trouble.


I asked her if she had any ice cream as that is one thing I am really craving these days. With all the gelato shops closed, I cannot get my fix. She said one moment and went to the back and came back with this!







Needless to say, she made my day. I thanked her profusely and went on my way, walking slow and taking in all the sunshine I could for the day.








Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Pizza, Hearts and Notes of Hope


Today I was really craving pizza. These days, things are a bit hard to come by up here in Citta Alta. Thankfully, Damimmo's was open and yes! they were making pizzas!! Margherita here I come!











The guy told me I had to wait 15 min. for the pizza. Now, normally this is not a problem, but we are on lockdown. I felt very conspicuous waiting outside for the pizza, but I had no choice. I stared into the windows of the closed shops looking at all the beautiful merchandise. 15 minutes pass very slowly. People were giving me weird looks probably wondering why I was hangin' around.





Finally, the cook came out with the pizzas and I said, grazie mille, those are for me. I walked on home and on the way I noticed these letters of hope taped to the doors and windows of the shops. I wondered who wrote them all and taped them up.










As I passed through the Piazza Vecchia on my way back to the apartment, taped out among the vast emptiness of the piazza was this large heart.










No words........













 





Saturday, March 21, 2020

No ordinary Saturday in Bergamo

With the days becoming warmer and the sun pushing through, the quarantine is proving more and more difficult to stay in. 








Bergamo is so beautiful and a great place to discover yet unchartered walks. I really try to limit the number of days I go out and when I do, it's a straight shot to the fruit and vegetable or prepared food shop and home. I often cheat and take the long walk home to enjoy a few more minutes of open air. 



Today at the shops, I noticed one cannot even go inside any longer. As I walked toward my shop, I was perplexed as to why the lines seemed longer. Well, stricter measures seemed to have started and owners must now serve you from the entrance to their shops. You can keep yelling back to make your order. 



Now, one thing since being here I have not improved on is my Italian. Since I just needed milk, cream and chips I did know the words. However, when I tried to ask for spicy chips, she thought I wanted pepper. I guess next time, I better have my list translated in Italian prior to waiting in line. Maybe I should learn the line for toilet paper!đŸ€Ł



As I walk home, I look at all the signs made by school children saying all will be okay. I sure hope so.......




Monday, March 16, 2020

Lockdown in Bergamo - a birthday to be remembered!

Well, today's my birthday and this is an unusual one, to say the least. Living in the heart of the red zone in Lombardy we definitely feel the strains of the lockdown. 



We are only allowed to go out for a very quick walk for essentials. Today, I deemed trying to buy vegetables along with liquor essential. I asked the fruit and vegetable guy for gin, but alas, none, so I bought a coffee liqueur to toast my birthday. Better than nothin'!





Cheers!!



When you go out now, you need to fill a form out that shows the date and where you are going. You carry this with you along with ID every time you go out. Failure to show it can result in a fine or worse...  




Honestly, I am scared to go out now. If I trip or fall or get badly injured, I am out of luck. I hope my family nor I need the hospital right now as you can forget it.





Can you imagine, 2020! and we have to carry a form to give a reason for being out on the streets! The form looks like this:
 

The form we need to fill out every time we go out of the house.




My small courtyard has become my exercise sanctuary. It really is this petite!! I know this is a small price to pay for keeping my distance. I really don't want to take any chances if I don't have too.




We try and limit our small shopping every other day. There is nothing to hoard here. The shops are full. We can get what we want. The upside of a small apt is there is not a lot of space to store things. Yes, I get a few things from Amazon as well to help round out the shopping and minimize the number of trips outside.  Businesses are shuttered. 



It looks like a ghost town here. In this image, people waiting in line at the bakery/grocery. Only 2 people allowed in at a time into the shops. 


Waiting in line to enter a small bakery/food shop - 2 people only at a time.



We have two pharmacies in Citta Alta. One allows 1 person at a time into the pharmacy.  The other one, she has a window where she is dispensing meds. She wants no one in her shop. I don't blame her. 

Window Dispensing Drugs


All over the town are signs like this - saying closed until further notice.







Now, most of the time, Citta Alta looks like this  - deserted. 



It is normally a tourist hub with wall to wall people. Come visit Citta Alta and Bergamo as soon as you can. 



It is a beautiful place to have a mini weekend.


 







The younger students are making these beautiful signs and hanging them in their windows and on all the storefronts. It says "Everything will be ok".










I know Italy will prevail and the rest of the world too. If we all do our part, we as an entire world will come back stronger than ever.