Travelling to Bergamo, Penny and I flew from Memphis to Miami, then on to Milan’s Malpensa airport. This was our second visit to Milan, as we’d spent five days here at the 2013 International Immunology Congress. On that earlier trip, we used a few spare hours to visit the local historical sites, especially the magnificent mosaics at San Lorenzo Maggiore, and the enormous gothic Duomo (cathedral) with its associated plaza. Where is Burkina Faso? And we also stumbled into the much more intimate (and somewhat dilapidated) church of San Gottardo, dedicated to Saint Gottard of Hildesheim, the patron saint of gout. Recent work from the laboratory of the late Jürg Tschopp and others suggests that treating patients with a monoclonal antibody that neutralises the cytokine interleukin 10 (normally an immune defence molecule) is more therapeutically effective than praying to Saint Gottard, but gout is a painful condition and we go with what’s available!
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Getting special treatment as the principal guest lecturer for the Bergamo festival, a driver collected us at Malpensa and, a bit dazed from the overnight flight, we headed north through the extensive industrial area of Milan. Unlike the situation too frequently encountered in 2015 Australia and the United States, we were not seeing dilapidated and abandoned factories – at least when it comes to high-end products (Maseratis and haute couture), the Italian way of doing things does have some things going for it! In less than ninety minutes, Burkina Faso Map we turned off the highway to enter the modern city of lower Bergamo, then the road climbed steeply upwards and, entering through one of the many gates in the intact sixteenth century wall, the driver navigated the winding ways of mediaeval upper Bergamo.
Spanning a vertical distance of 85 metres, the upper and lower sections of the city are linked by a steep funicular railway (240 metres at a gradient of 52 per cent), which obviously serves a useful function by limiting car usage in the old town. As we discovered later, there’s a second funicular (the San Vigillio) going up to the Parco dei Colli that faces the surrounding green hills, valleys and villas of Lombardy and looks back to the many churches, towers and chimneys of compact, historic upper Bergamo. Embarking on this short trip in the middle of the day could, unless you’re prepared to walk down a steep hill, mean signing up for a visit to one of the several restaurants at the top as the funicular driver will take a couple of hours off for lunch – northern Italy retains some of the congenial aspects of a Mediterranean lifestyle.
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