Updated: Mar 16, 2021
It was around midnight in mid January 1990 when I arrived at the Bergamo Ferroviaria. Although I was wearing a jacket and a chunky wool sweater I had bought a few months prior in Cuenca, Ecuador, the damp chill went directly through the layers. This was cold. It shouldn’t really be this cold I thought. I was from Montana and I had lived in rough winters but this cold was different. It was a damp wet cold as if Seattle and Montana had met for a blind date and forced their way through an uncomfortable dinner. My possessions at the time were a backpack and a Turner painting poster “Peace -Burial at Sea” in a tube. The Turner artwork has long been lost, but years later I still had the empty tube with the number “14” written in blue ballpoint pen –the bus line that would take me to the hostel. The first thing I noticed walking to the bus stop besides the cold, was the fog. It was unbelievably thick, like Hollywood movie-set thick, and maybe a 10-15 foot visibility. I stepped into the bus just before the doors hissed and closed as we pulled away. The buses in Italy were now newer than when I had been a student in Florence years before. Gone were the coin slots to pay the fare, now you inserted a “Tessera” a prepaid ticket in order to pay. I had no Tessera. An older gentleman wearing a black scarf and matching black fedora noticed me trying to ask the driver about paying and gently tapped my shoulder showing me him punching his own ticket pass for my fare. He was the first person in Bergamo that showed me the warm generous albeit hidden side of the Bergamascan population.