Beauty of Northern Italy

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Map of the trip – cf1
The beginning – cf2
Lake Garda and Sirmione – cf3
Bergamo – cf4
Milan – cf5
Lake Maggiore and Stresa – cf6
The End – cf7
Riječ-dvije za domaću raju – cf8

I’d like to define the boundaries of Northern Italy first. Northern Italy includes the following Italian regions: Aosta Valley, Liguria, Lombardy, Piedmont; Emilia-Romagna, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Trentino – South Tyrol and Veneto.

Padania-Italia
Italy with Northern Italy marked in darker pink

Despite the title, I’m not going to blog about the whole Northern Italy😀

From Sunday to Wednesday, I was on a trip called Milan and Italian lakes. Well Milan and the lakes we visited are in Northern Italy😀
The lakes are Alpine of glacial origin. They are in Italian “Lake District”. I swear they look just like the sea (I think I even spotted a seagull! once or twice). Even the waves look just like sea waves😀 The only things that show they’re “just” lakes are ducks and swans.
Microclimate around the lakes makes them sea-like because it’s warmer than it should be.
Lake Maggiore is ain’t connected with Hungary (Magyarorszag)😀

The trip was great, but it would’ve been better if the weather hadn’t been so ghastly. Furthermore, Mom was sick all the time. The trip wasn’t so great to her😦 and because of the bloody compassion, the trip didn’t live to my expectations too (there are many more places to visit in Milan). Nevertheless, we both had great time😀

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Karta

The map shows where I went (click on the image to enlarge it). I cut the map (i.e. France, Switzerland, Austria and Hungary) to better show where I had been. If you can’t picture where the area shown in the map is, comparing it with this map of Europe should help.

The beginning (cf1)

We were off from Zagreb Coach Station at 5:30 AM on Sunday. There were still passengers to pick up from two towns.

The first pair waited for us in Karlovac, a city on four rivers. Since Karlovac was not our destination and since we reached the town around 6 o’clock and, therefore, didn’t even leave the bus to take a leak; I’m not gonna write about the town now.

We stopped in Rijeka to pick up more passengers. I mentioned Rijeka a bit in Field trip – academic year 2012/2013 (jump to Rijeka). However, if you’d like to read more about the city, read Magical world at Rijeka’s doorstep from a fellow blogger.

So, we were finally set to go to Italy.

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We passed by Trieste, but we did not go to the city. If we had gone to the city, we would’ve probably stayed a while… or simply would have been caught in a traffic jam (although Sunday ain’t a day known for its rush hours😀 )… and, thus, would’ve wasted our time. Anyway, this is the best pic of Trieste I managed to take from the bus.

In the past, especially in Yugoslavia, people used to smuggle goods from Trieste.
On our way to Italy, (Croatian) cops merely checked whether our ID cards were valid, on Croatia-Slovenia border (Slovenians used to bug us a lot before we joined the EU ’cause “you were entering the EU” on Slovenian border). On the way back, we didn’t go through any border control at all. Anyway, such slim border is ideal for smuggling… though it was much harsher during “smuggling” times. After all, now that we’re all in the EU; Italian, Slovenian and Croatian economies are all intertwined😀

Lake Garda and Sirmione (cf3)

Sirmione is a town lying on the coast of lake Garda, the largest lake in Italy.

On our way to Sirmione we did pass by Padua and Verona, but we did not go to the cities.

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Scaliger castle, a mediaeval castle

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I swear these guys are seagulls.

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The town is swarming with ducks: surface or water – all the same to them😀

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Sirmione is full of thermal springs. I’m at the entrance to Terme Catullo in this picture. The thermal centre is named after Roman poet Catullus (Catullo). Sirmione is home to the remains of a Roman edifice called Grotto of Catullus.

Simirione is full of ice creams. You can by all kinds of ice creams at every corner. You can buy an ice cream in various cornets. When I saw how much a scoop of ice cream costs, I thought like no way! However, you don’t get a scoop; you get a ball the size of a fist. Half of the ice cream I’d bought ended up on the street😮

There’s a souvenir shop full of marvellous chess sets. Damn, how’d I like to lose a game or two on such a set😀
Unfortunately, the owner didn’t let me take a pic of at least one set😦

Bergamo (cf4)

Okay, I’ve been to Bergamo; I only hope Bergen, Norway is next😀

The population of Bergamo is 120 000. The guide told us it’s a rather “small town”. So, when we’re talking about Bergamo, a settlement of 120 000 citizens is a small town, but when we’re talking about Rijeka, 120 000 citizens make it a big city…
Okay, Bergamo is not a big city like Milan, but it ain’t small either.

Before I show you a pic or two of Bergamo, I’d like to tell you a few traffic things about Italy that I noticed and that I have no doubt Italians will laugh their ass off about. First, Italian streetwalkers, much like Croatian, simply aren’t aware of the existence of a zebra crossing and a green light. Secondly, traffic lights differ a bit from those in Croatia – streetwalker traffic lights have a yellow light (not that it helps much – streetwalkers still ignore traffic lights) and red (which often looks orange) and yellow lights on vehicle traffic lights are different. They’re different in that they’re arrow shaped. Only a green light can be arrow shaped in Croatia. Yellow never has an arrow and red can have a label like arrow. This helps colour blind people (in addition to C-Y-G always being arranged in that order): when arrows are used on traffic lights here, red always has a label like arrow, yellow never has an arrow and green is always arrow shaped.

Bergamo has two centres: upper and lower town. Upper town is a hilltop mediaeval town surrounded by city walls. We went only to the upper town, so I’ve got pics only of the upper town:

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Funicular to Bergamo upper town
This one actually covers a distance… and is cheaper than that in Ljubljana (jump to Funicular).

Milan (cf5)

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Milan is the biggest city in Northern Italy. It is pretty much the centre of Italy. Rome was the centre of Roman empire and still is the centre of the Catholic Church (Vatican) and Italian political centre, but other than that… Milan is the most important Italian city.
Speaking of politics, headquarters of a major Italian party, Northern League, is in Milan. The party’s main goal is the autonomy of the North, either through federalism or independence. Everyone’s favourite Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, was born in Milan… though I saw no Berlusconi statue😀

Since Milan is more than 10 times larger than Bergamo, the city’s public transport includes buses, trolleybuses, trams and subway while Bergamo’s includes only buses.
The funny thing is that the terminal of tram route 14 is right across the hotel we stayed at. The terminal of tram route 14 in Zagreb is near my building while a stop of the route is right across my building. So I could’ve just hopped in tram 14 in the Milan centre and end up “home” just like at home ×D
Since tram tracks are twice as wide as those in Zagreb, Zagreb and Milan can’t exchange trams ×D

Considering the hotel, it was a few yards from the board Milano, so technically we didn’t stay in Milan😀
About the hotel itself: not much to say, except that it was a four star hotel (****) with a broken elevator…

There are very few cops in Milan. When we were trying to find a bus stop with a bus to take us back to hotel, we wanted to ask a cop, but we couldn’t find a single one. We spent half an hour in rain searching for the stop.
There should be a cop nearby all the time so citizens can ask for help… especially in the centre.

I had the all-mighty Italian pasta in Milan. The pasta was very good, but not any better than in the rest of the world.

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Milano board near the hotel ×D

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A statue of Verdi

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A gate of Sforza Castle

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A statue of Leonardo da Vinci. The guy looks just like in Kathryn Janeway’s simulation😀

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Milan Cathedral (the Duomo)
Milanese have a saying something lasts long as the construction of the Cathedral because the construction of Milan Cathedral took six centuries.

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A formula model in Ferrari gift shop

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It was pouring pretty much the whole Monday in Milan. The city was full of umbrella sellers. They remind me of the Trotters😉

Milan is a multicultural city; one of the few European cities with colourful racial make-up. Although colourful ethnic and racial make-up has become quite common in big European cities in the past 50 years or so, we are still mostly white. Anyway, I am talking about racial make-up, because Milan is a good example of our sad social structure. Even though white people make up most of the population of Milan, a white man can rarely be seen doing a less paid job like waitering, “selling stuff on a stall” or “umbrella selling”.

Similarly like the flag of Ljubljana is similar to the flag of Wales, the flag of Milan resembles the flag of England. However, there is virtually no difference this time. The only difference is that the red cross on the flag of Milan is a bit lighter in hue than the one on the flag of England.
Only, this is is more known than the similarity between the flag of Ljubljana and the flag of Wales because Milan is quite bigger, and thus better heard of than Ljubljana, while England is bigger than Wales. Furthermore, world is full of soccer fans, or rather fanatics. The national team of England is widely known and the flag of England is used by the team. Milan Football Club is, also, very popular and the club uses the flag of their city.

Lake Maggiore and Stresa (cf6)

The Italian name of the lake is Lago Maggiore which literally translates to “Greater Lake”. While lake Maggiore is big, it’s not the largest Italian lake. Like I said, Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy though lake Maggiore is the longest Italian lake.

Most of the lake is in Italy though a small portion is in Switzerland. It is divided between Lombardy and Piedmont in Italy, Lombardy and Piedmont are rival regions.

The town of Stresa lies on Piedmont side of the lake.
Stresa is a point of interest because of small islands, called Borromean Islands, north of the town. Borromean Islands include: Isola Bella, Isola Madre, Isola dei Pescatori and Isolino di San Giovanni; isola meaning “island” and isolino meaning “little island”.

We visited the lake and the town on our last day. It was the only rainless day… pretty much… of the trip. Mom’s illness started fading that day too.

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Isola Madre is full of various birds (including wondering ducks):

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Flags in the picture centre are the flag of EU and a pirate flag. Now, I wonder what the symbolism behind the flag of EU and a pirate flag sharing a pole is…

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A tapestry in the palace of Iselo Bella (the whole island is one palace). Looking at the snake pictured in the tapestry made me understand why people are terrified of snakes😮

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Gardens on Iselo Bella

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I saw another awesome chess set in Stresa. This one I did take a pic of:
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The End (cf7)

We left Stresa for home around 2:30 PM.

The trip back home seemed longer even though we took the same route, probably because we left straight for home without stopping, expect at rest stops of course. The trip took “longer” especially when darkness fell. Trip through Slovenia felt like it lasted five years. We reached home at 1 AM.

This time we stopped at a rest stop near Trieste. However, it was pitch black by then, and I couldn’t take a pic of cityscape from the stop. Three other Croatian coaches stopped at the stop. In addition, there were a few Croatian cars at the rest stop. Bloody hell, when I went to the rest stop store, I felt right at home ’cause I could hear Croatian all around me😀

Riječ-dvije za domaću raju (cf8)

Ne da u Milanu nisam bio u Max Bunker Pressu, nego ni na jednom kiosku u gradu nisam vidio Alan Forda iako sam po gradu hodao u Alan Ford majici (i čarapama s Njegovom Visosti!). Ajde, barem oni koje sam pitao da li imaju Alan Forda nisu u mene blejili ko budala u krumpir. Mislim, znam da Talijani ne znaju za Alan Forda, ali mislio sam da su Sjevernjaci ipak načuli za plavušana… ili barem raja Bunkerovog rodnog grada i sjedišta krvavog Max Bunker Pressa. Ali ne! Po trafikama imaju samo Texa, Dylan Doga i ostale Bonellijeve drkađonđe.
Bunkeru bi trebali podignuti spomenik😀 Jebeš Verdija i da Vincija! Čak nisu ni rođeni Milanežani! Ajde, da Vincija im priznam😀

U suvenirnicama na jezeru Maggiore, među ostalim, prodaju stolnjake. Popularnana je stolnjak-karta Italije s označenim znamenitostima Italije. Na mjestu Francuske je francuska zastava, na mjestu Švice švicarska zastava, na mjestu Austrije austrijska, a na mjestu Slovenije jugoslavenska. Kolko je ono godina i desetljeća prošlo od raspada Juge? Ajde još da Ameri naprave ovakav gaf, ali prvi nam susjedi…

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Što učiniše od hrvatske i srpske zastave za nadolazeći Expo (i slovensku su zasrali, ali ove su baš jedna do druge)😮 Malo su uranili s Expom budući da će se održat sljedeće godine. Valjda će do tad “poboljšati” zastave.

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Kako Talijani cugaju😀

Kad već spomenuh Colu. Kao što Englezi kažu Coke za Coca-Colu, Talijani kažu Coca. Moram se zapitati kako nijedan talijanski turist slučajno nije završio u zatvoru jer je zabunom tražio koku u kafiću 😉
Inače, u talijanskim kafićima, Cola košta otprilike kao i u Hrvatskoj. Ali, u talijanskim kafićima se prodaju limenke od 33 deci, a u hrvatskim bočice od 25. Gdje je onda Cola jeftinija? Još samo da uračunamo i veći talijanski standard…

Posted on October 10th, 2013 at 20:23 GMT
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