Here we are on holiday, in the mountains above the city of Bergamo, on a sweltering afternoon. Arrived here Saturday, after a week spent by Lake Como to celebrate our friend Ann’s 60th birthday. Holidays anywhere are a treat, particularly if the weather is good, but to my mind Italy is unbeatable. This is out fourth visit to the Hotel Miramonti in Rota d’Imagna, Ann’s first. It’s always a gamble recommending somewhere to friends in case they don’t love it as much as you do. But Ann does. For a start the hotel is family run and that means they care. Mamma makes the pasta, Papa runs the bar, Uncle the pizzeria. Son Giampiero runs the business and seems to do everybody else’s job, as well as his own. They always have a smile on their face and nothing is too much trouble. Rare service these days and seldom experienced in a hotel chain. All meals consist of seasonal, local food. Pasta is home-made, tomatoes taste like they should and basil is fragrant. Even the simplest meal is a feast. Local meats served with marinated artichokes, cheeses with fig jam, cep mushroom polenta – that was just the starter. Rabbit, wild boar, beef, veal for the main course. Washed down with local wine.
The hotel guests are mainly Italians – of a certain age. Meal-times are noisy with chatter and busy but the service is attentive. There are families of three generations sitting down for lunch at one table. I observed them at Mass this morning. Standing room only. Unusual in Italy these days but perhaps they were there because it is a special feast of Our Lady. There was a collection box for ‘a new head for St. Gottardo’ (patron of the similarly named Swiss Pass perhaps?). What happened to the original I wonder. I day-dream in Mass, particularly during the priest’s homily which I don’t understand. My Italian doesn’t stretch that far. The usual dream – could I live here and write a book… There are flats to rent for 300 euros a month. The hotel carries some property brochures. You can buy a flat for 50,000 euros and even a dilapidated farmhouse for the same. That would give Stewart something to do whilst I stay in the hotel and write (ha!). Or he could improve his ‘synchronised swimming technique’ – see below with Ann! This isn’t a holiday for those who like to spend their time shopping, posing or clubbing. But for relaxation, refreshment and care, you can’t beat it.
– Mass this morning