Day 105 - Bergamo
26 March 2022
We caught up with Keleigh last night. It was great to see her. Shell has kept only a couple of close friends over the last few years. Over the last few decades. Keleigh is one of them. It makes their friendship special. Plan to catch up again tomorrow evening and meet her partner, Marco.
“Why did you do all this for me?' he asked. 'I don't deserve it. I've never done anything for you.' 'You have been my friend,' replied Charlotte. 'That in itself is a tremendous thing.” ― E.B. White
Wake up early. Considering how little I drank last night I feel like garbage. Terrible headache. Shell is the same. We grab some breakfast and I make a run to the pharmacy for paracetamol and aspirin. Incredible weather. Blue skies.
The medication helps enough to face the day. We head out for lunch to a place nearby. It is busy and there is only one person working the floor. In chefs pants and crocs. He looks like kitchen staff. Run off his feet. It takes forever to take our order. We help ourselves to the water.
Mussels baked in bread and two plates of pasta. The mussels are great. The pasta pomodoro is good. The casoncelli, not so much. It is not a memorable meal but I feel better after eating something. Still can’t shake the headache.
I head down to pay. The same guy is taking cash. I wait a few minutes with another patron while he serves a table. The other guy pays. He tells me the amount but I do not understand. In my head, it is around 20 - 25 euros. I hand him a fifty knowing it will be covered. He goes to the calculator and shows me 25. I pass him another five, I could see he had thirty in his hand with my 50.
He takes my five and looks at me. I look at him. He points to the calculator. I nod and tell him he owes me thirty. He shakes his head and gestures at the calculator. I tell him he has my fifty and points to his hand. He looks down, sees the fifty, my fifty, and shakes his head. Motions to his pocket.
This guy is scamming me.
I take a deep breath. Remind myself there is a language barrier. He is run off his feet. This is likely an honest mistake. I politely….. No, I didn’t. I wish I had.
I grab the calculator, wave him over, enter 50 + 5 = 55. I subtract 25 to get thirty. I motion and say, ‘you need to give me 30’.
‘No, no, no, no. You give me 20’ he says. I assume from his gestures. I only understand the no.
‘The fuck I do. My fifty is in your hand’ I point to his hand and he sees the fifty.
He looks at his hand and sees the fifty. I think the penny may have dropped, but he digs in.
‘No, no, no, no..’ he is gesturing for me to give him the cash.
Maybe it was the headache. Maybe it was the bad service. Maybe I am just a bad person. Even though he does not speak a word of English I point an accusing finger at him and say, loudly, almost shouting, ‘stop trying to scam me you prick. Give me the change. You owe me thirty and you know it. Now hand it over’.
He thinks about it and hands it over. I walk off. Before I even get back to Shell I regret my behaviour. I am not sure if we could have worked it out calmly. I am not sure if was trying to rip me off. I do know he was run off his feet. I do know that I really didn’t give the situation a chance to be worked out without anger.
I tell Shell. She is understanding. I am more disappointed in myself. As we walk out to leave he comes running after us. He has a free dessert for us. Gesturing for us to come back. He has realised his mistake. He is trying to make it up to me. I keep walking.
“Maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets.” ― Arthur Miller
We catch up with Keleigh in the afternoon and she shows us around Bergamo. It is a beautiful town. Big enough to have all the attractions of a city. Small enough to have a slow gentle rhythm. I love this place. Castles and churches. We walk over 18 km. Grab an Aperol Spritz late in the afternoon. Dinner at 9.30 pm. Proper Italian time. Head back for a shower.
Italian workers pay a tax to the church. One of the richest institutions in the world receives taxed income from Italians. Italians must sleep well at night knowing their money goes to protecting pedophiles and supporting the disgustingly wealthy. I consider this as I walk through Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore and Bergamo Cathedral. Wealth everywhere.
“It is time that we admitted that faith is nothing more than the license religious people give one another to keep believing when reasons fail.” ― Sam Harris
Marco is great. We head to dinner after some wine at Keleigh’s apartment. It is a great spot. Affordable. I could live in Bergamo. Another hike to dinner. Marco orders plate after plate of traditional Bergamo dishes. Pork shin with polenta, beef in a mushroom ragu with polenta. Mushrooms with polenta, mushrooms with pasta. Casoncelli which is delicious.
It is after midnight when we start home. We give Barry a call so he can say hello to Keleigh. As we are walking Marco mentions it is daylight savings, the clocks go forward an hour. The thought of losing an hour of sleep does not impress me.
We say our goodbyes. Walk home and crash.
“Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.” ― J.M. Barrie
Train to Vienna tomorrow.