First Day in Italy!

Thursday, June 16, 2016
Bergamo, Lombardy, Italy
Everything so far on this trip is above our expectations. I don't think we’ve forgotten anything. Our flight check-in in Cincinnati was effortless with no lines or hassle. Our flight to JFK was on time and arrived early at the busy New York airport. Only an hour layover for our flight to Milan, Italy at the busy JFK Delta terminal. Our coach seat was actually comfortable and the guy ahead of me didn’t lean back into me. (He was Italian and very courteous). Bev and I watched a movie together The Finest Hours about a 1952 oil tanker that broke apart off the Massachusetts coast and how brave Coast Guarders saved 32 of the crew using a small vessel. Then I was able to sleep half of the eight hour flight.

We landed in Milan . It was easy going through immigration and we hardly knew we went through Customs. And Carmelo Anastasi and Angelo Di Vita were waiting for us! All so effortless!!

We were so happy to see our hosts. I didn’t realize that Angelo would come from Catania, Sicily which is nearly 900 miles away. He brought his wife Anna Maria. Also, Carmelo’s brother Salvatore came with his wife Brigida.

We were taken to our hotel in Bergamo, Lomabady which is about 45 minutes east of Milan. What a surprise Bergamo is!   It is ancient, historic and well-preserved.  

All of the Anastasi’s were staying at Carmelo and Antonella’s home and we are at the Excelsior San Marco hotel in Bergamo.

Carmelo takes us first to the hotel to get situated a bit of rest and comes back with Angelo Di Vita three hours later.

From our hotel on the sixth floor we have direct view of Old Bergamo going back to Roman times . It is located on top of a hill. It looks almost precariously perched on the mountain, but it’s bold and obvious. Most people coming to the Feast of Tabernacles in Italy do not come up to Bergamo, but it is indeed a place worth seeing if you come to Italy.

Carmelo and Angelo arrive back at the hotel and up to Old Bergamo we go! What we saw was far above our expectations and certainly the most notable place to visit in this area. I thought of northern Italy as a place that was like industrialized Europe. Not Bergamo. It contains the charm of Tuscany and the historic interest of Rome and other places to the south.

In the building of Bergamo you see civilizations built on top of one another. Below we can walk on Roman pavement from 2000 years ago to Middle Ages to the Renaissance.   There are bell towers around with the bells ringing. And of course, there are the elaborate ornate Catholic cathedrals . All in walking distance.

One interesting shrine went back to Mithraism, a religion predating Christianity that had similarities to public Christianity. The shrine, it may have been a cathedral, had a presentation of sun worship complete with sun and rays. I found an interesting article as I’m writing this about Mithraism at

It’s an interesting study into how public Christianity syncretized with paganism in many aspects of worship with a veneer of the true Jesus Christ. You can see it so publicly here.

We climbed Bartomeleo Tower, one of the highest towers in the town with a spectacular view of not only the town below, but the new part of Bergamo below where we are staying. Carmelo lives about 15 minutes from our hotel. The church office is within walking distance of Carmelo. We will be at the Church office on Friday .  

By the way, San Pelligrino water comes from San Pellegrino springs just north of Bergamo.

Notable places we visited was St. Agatha cathedral…the patron saint of Bergamo.

It was a wonderful walking tour of old Bergamo with the best guide, Carmelo Anastasi. It was capped off with a gelato (ice cream) cone before going back to our car.

Then on to the Anastasi’s for an evening dinner and socializing. It was most wonderful as we met Carmelo’s brother Salvatore and his wife Brigida. Only Carmelo and Antonella speak fluent English, so the evening was one with much translation, but it went very well. We caught the drift of close Italian family connections.

Dinner started with a martini and hors d'oeuvres. Dinner was special Italian rice, chicken, breaded cauliflower, salad, fruit, and tiramisu.  Lively discussion about church, national origins, the different types of Italians etc. kept things lively all evening.

Finally, Carmelo took us back to the hotel. The first bed in two nights as the night before it was on the plane. We felt very joyful to be here with friends and enjoyed this experience so much. 



Glad to hear all is going well. I also watch "The Finest Hours" on a recent flight. Excellent movie about working together during tough circumstances.