Hello, I’m Jamie, I’m abroad, and I’m here to tell you what I’m getting up to on the continent.
After spending the first half of my Year Abroad working as a language assistant in Seville and a month studying at a language school in Le Marche, I decided to find a job in fair Italia. I now find myself in very sunny/very rainy (delete as appropriate) Bergamo, a beautiful wee city just outside of Milan. I’m working as a teacher in media schools (Year 7-Year 9) dotted around the local area, teaching everything from the European Union to the Industrial Revolution.
I only started this leg of the ERASMUS adventure a couple of weeks ago, so let me give you a rough picture of how it’s going so far…
The teaching job, which is paid, also comes with an apartment. Ideal. It also comes with a flatmate, my pal Samantha. We have everything we need to get on fabulously: we love beer, crappy Italian TV and are big fans of lie-ins. Behold, a prosperous fwendship!
This is Samantha. Bronze statues make her anxious for reasons unknown.
Let us be your guides!
To give this little piece some material, we had planned on doing a proper day trip but the weather didn't agree with us - rainy and overcast was what we were given. Thus, we decided to leave Lake Como or Milan and spend the day wandering around the city in which we now live.
Come with us now, esteemed reader, on an educational journey round Bergamo way...
You're not getting through here!
(Bonus points if you noticed the Venetian Lion
at the top of the gate!)
If I’d have been one of those builders, I'd have been raging. After the 30 years of building said wall and during 400 years of Venetian control, Milan never once came near the place. Since the building of the wall, Bergamo has literally not seen any military action at all. And that's all well and good.
But imagine being one of those poor buggers that had to build the chuffing thing. Imagine sitting on the top of that wall after having spent 30 years on it for nobody to bother invading. It's like the Venetians made a Facebook event inviting Milan to come and invade and Milan's clicked 'maybe', then not even bothered turning up.
La Basilica di Bergamo
Bergamo may be home to a duomo and a cathedral, but the basilica is truly special. As religious ground, the site has been built upon time and again since the 4th century BC. The basilica, as it stands today, began construction in 1137 and was finally finished by the Venetians in 1521.
Inside, the basilica is beaut. In fact, it is so beaut that Samantha and I were left genuinely speechless. There's something about Catholic grandeur that leaves our own British cathedrals looking rather bleak.
It really is very nice.
Grass on me if you want. He can come and have a go if he thinks he's hard enough.
We endeavoured to take the best photo of the interior of the basilica that we possibly could. This involved us running around, standing on benches, and lying on the floor. Thankfully, there weren't any priests around to chide us and drag us to confession for our bad behaviour.
Still, as it turns out, lying down on a cathedral floor to take a picture of a basilica's dome does provide great results.
Just outside the basilica is the palazzo del podestà - where justice happened in the olden days. Archaeologists have been uncovering ruins underneath where the palazzo stands that date back hundreds and hundreds of years. Today, we weren't too fussed about what was going on underneath the palazzo, but were more concerned about getting to the top of it.
And so we began our ascent up the tower. Truth be told, there were a lot of stairs. A lot of stairs. Like, too many stairs. The further we got, the more anxious Samantha became (not a fan of heights) and the more mardy I became (not a fan of physical activity).
We can report that reaching the top was definitely worth it. Even with the incredibly thick fog, seeing Bergamo from above was great.
Trust us, your guides: if you want to see a place, see it from above.
The Banter of Bergamo
There's a wee bar just down the road from our flat. We have not frequented this place as it looks too expensive. However, there is a blackboard outside which had upon it inscribed a lovely quote. Verily, words to live by:
"Non si può pensare bene,
se non si ha mangiato bene"
"You cannot think well,
if you have not eaten well"
What is the banter you may ask? "Pene" is the Italian for penis. Observe: