Postcard from Bergamo, Italy: An unmerciful alarmclock

It went off every morning. Only one rooftop away from our fifth floor window in the apartment we rented in Bergamo, Italy, this past summer. There was no way to be lazy and sleep through the clanging bell because it sounded as though it was next to us in bed. Fortunately, it waited until daylight and didn’t feel compelled to let us know as each hour passed during the night.

A block away, the bell hanging in the 11th-century Torre del Campanone tolls 100 times at 10 p.m., a reminder of the strict curfew imposed by Germans in the town during World War II. But then, until morning, all is quiet.

The alarm clock is among the eccentricities encountered renting apartments versus staying in hotels. This rental was located on the fifth floor directly over the main pedestrian street passing through the Alta Citta. Restaurants were only a few steps away.

But on weekends or if tour buses had just unloaded passengers downhill, we had to be careful stepping into the street from our doorway so as not to get run over by the herd jamming the narrow street, much like the crowds on the River Walk at home. One of those play-me pianos below echoed of “Chopsticks” way too often but, sometimes, would attract really talented pianists to sit down for a spell.

The window provided a daily weather report, and the landscape seen from the windows on the flights of stairs at the rear made the climb easier. We also enjoyed birds-eye views of parishioners bearing saints on parade or wedding parties headed to or from one of the numerous churches. And the street was so narrow, we even made an Italian friend on the fifth floor across the street who traded blues guitar licks with the Mister one afternoon.

Love this inexpensive way of slowed-down travel….


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