As I have been traveling around Italy, I have made it a habit to walk everywhere that I am going. I refuse to take any sort of public transportation, except when I am moving from one city to another. I have two good legs, so I might as well use them! Not only does this provide me with the opportunity to see everything, but it is great exercise, which to be quite honestly I have never really been a fan of. I did realize something on my walk through the upper city of Bergamo today. I AM ALONE!
I know you are probably thinking, “Justin, you are traveling solo, of course you are alone.” However, that is not what I am referring to. What I mean is that my Head Voices are gone. I am sure you know what I am talking about… At least I hope you do! My constant inner dialogue with myself has come to a screeching halt. For the first time, in a very,very long time, there is silence in between my ears.
This has been beneficial to me in two very obvious ways. First, my general feeling of anxiety is steadily decreasing. I am able to get out of bed without stressing about what may or may not happen today. I have felt more at peace with myself, and I have not been overanalyzing everything that happens to me or around me. I have been able to focus more on the here and now, and I feel more mentally balanced. Secondly, I have been having more suddenly inspired ideas. Luckily, I carry a notebook around with me everywhere I go. None of these ideas have been what I would consider Earthshaking, but I am hoping that the new-found stillness of mind will heighten my creativity.
Is it the new environment, the lack of a schedule, the lack of people around me, or just the fact I am no longer chained to a desk and confined to a classroom at least five days a week? I am not sure yet. It may be a combination of all of the above, but that is yet to be determined. Enough about my mental state! Let’s talk about my first full day in Bergamo, Italy.
My first day in Bergamo started out quite early. I was awake by 5:00 am. I made some coffee, which I had purchased at a small market the afternoon before. By 9:30 I was out the door. I began walking around without a plan, which seems to be a reoccurring theme with me lately. I snapped a few random shots of things that caught my eye, but just ahead of me, on the left, I spotted a massive Catholic church, Chiesa di Santa Maria Immacolata della Grazie. As I stepped inside I quickly realized that a church service was just about to start. I don’t know why, but I hurriedly found an empty pew to sit in as the priest began to recite passages out of a book, which the small congregation responded to. I sat their listening, watching, and saying my own silent prayers. This was an unexpected, yet very welcomed start to my day.
As the service ended, I waited for the bulk of the congregation to leave before I began touring the church. After admiring the architecture and art for a bit, I stepped back out onto the street and continued walking. I soon found myself near my apartment that I am renting for the time I am here. I decided I should stop by and have a quick snack and a glass of wine before I made my hike up the hill to the upper part of Bergamo. During my morning walk around town I had caught glimpses of parts of the city that sits atop the hill, but had yet to see it in full view.
After I finished my snack I began walking in the direction of upper Bergamo. Within a few minutes I had reached the base of the hill, and the view was fantastic. The city above was encircled by a massive fortified wall, and the building looked considerably older and more ornate than those in the lower city. Once I got there it was easy to locate the way up, I just followed the crowd of people. I was then faced with two options. I could take the lift, or I could hoof it. I chose the ladder. The hike up the hill was not as bad as I thought it would be. The cobblestone steps were short and wide, which made it fairly easy on my old man knees. When I reached the top I was amazed at how charming the town below looked, how beautiful the hills looked in the distance, and the fact that I had just walked up a big ass hill and was hardly winded. I followed the cobblestone path through the gate and entered what seemed to be a city frozen in time. The buildings seemed unchanged from centuries ago. The streets were lined with clothing and jewelry shops, book stores, restaurants, and of course gelato shops. I walked around for quite a while admiring the buildings until I ran back into the wall. It was the perfect spot to sit, relax, and just enjoy the view. This is the spot where I realized that my head voices had fallen silent. I don’t know how long I sat there, but it was a while. It was already late afternoon by the time I got up, so I decided I should head back down the hill and return home. Bergamo is undeniably beautiful, and my tour of the upper city is far from complete, but there is always tomorrow!