Friday, June 23, 2017

On the ground in Valtellina and Italian/Lombard-speaking Graubünden

Breathtaking Road Through Stelvio Pass (Eastern Alps), Italy-Switzerland-Italy.


Check out the beauty of Italy and Switzerland! Stelvio Pass (Italian: Passo dello Stelvio; German: Stilfser Joch), located in Italy, at 2757 m (9045 feet) is the highest paved mountain pass in the Eastern Alps, and the second highest in the Alps. It is located on the border of Italy and Switzerland. More about Stelvio Pass read here

3D Streets,10.453634,3a,75y,243.91h,104.65t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1snfA_iexCxRQd7o3pOQSxIw!2e0

Shot on GoPro Hero2.

Music - 'Cherry Blossom' by Stumbleine


The Stelvio Pass is located in the Ortler Alps in the Valtellina (Bormio) and the South Tyrol.

Driving through the Alps: Tirano (Italy) - St. Moritz (Swiss) [Bernina Pass]

The Bernina Pass, Switzerland.

Some time back, I was walking past some outdoor tables in front of the deli in the Brisbane Village Shopping Center during lunch. I noticed several younger men who looked very Milanese--tall, in-shape, and sharply dressed--sitting at a table speaking Italian. I was in a hurry, but I thought it unfortunate that I couldn't communicate to them that I am Lombard; that my parents are from a largely Lombard community in Upper Michigan, that there was once a Lombard neighborhood in nearby San Rafael (one of about a dozen in the United States; there's still a Lombard club there), that there was once a Societa Lombarda of South San Francisco right nearby, or that the was a large migration of Swiss Italians (Ticinese-Lombards) locally at one time.

I guess that I am like many Americans who seek a connection to what feels like a long lost past. But I had to get going, but I looked back as I was getting into my car. I saw them sitting there with San Bruno Mountain in the background. From that angle, the mountains could have passed for the pre-Alps just north of Milan, Bergamo, or Brescia. Brisbane could almost pass for an Alpine village when viewed from an eastern angle. In any case, 150 years ago all of our ancestors were in one place; all speaking a dialect of the Lombard language, and not at all strangers... but now living somewhere in the world, such as Rome, Paris, San Francisco, Melbourne, Montreal, Sao Paulo, or Buenos Aires.... the Milanese, the Bergamasks, the Brescians, the Camunians, the Ticinese, the Valtellinese, the Poschiavini (Bernina/Poschiavo) etc.


The Bernina Express....

....between Tirano in the Valtellina to St. Moritz in Graubünden, Switzerland.


Switzerland Tirano St Moritz



The Bernina Express - Valtellina to Graubünden

Cab Ride. Switzerland. St.Moritz - Tirano

Bernina Express (HD)

As I was writing in the previous paragraph, 150 years ago our great(s)-grandparents were all in one place. When I was a kid in the stands at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, watching the 49ers play, Joe Montana was quarterback. Montana was from Monongahela, Pennsylvania; once a destination for immigrants from the Val Camonica... where Montana's paternal grandparents came from. My grandparents were from the Val Camonica, my parents from the Montreal River between Wisconsin and Upper Michigan. Very unbeknownst to me at the time, the Hall of Fame quarterback's grandparents or great grandparents could have known my grandparents or great grandparents... or some forefathers/foremothers during those many centuries. At the least, they could have communicated in the same Camunian dialect of the Lombard language.

A few weeks ago, I ran into a salesman from Milan. He was in San Francisco on business... leather jackets made in Milan. The company does business all over the world. He fit the gregarious stereotype... and I thought it was too bad that north San Mateo County no longer had any "Little Italy" (or "Little Genoa") to display.... and perhaps show some sort've cultural continuity. That pretty much disappeared in the 70s. Some people still spoke Italian in the 80s.

Some time ago I came across an Italian business woman at a car rental in downtown San Francisco. She was from Florence, about 6'1" and beautiful with long dark hair, big brown eyes, and ivory skin, probably in her 30s, and very well dressed. These Italians mentioned here are the kind've people who have given Italy respect the world over... the people of the north. Their accents were not the accents from some mafia movie... but well spoken English.. firm and with confidence. Many northern immigrants long ago, often from the Genoa area, took the same sea route whether headed for the cone of South America or northern California. From Genoa to one of the eastern ports of South America, around the southern tip and then northward to San Francisco. Now their descendants are strangers... lost in time. We are the same people.


Bernina Express Tirano-St Moritz - 4K Seitenkameras -



I feel closer to the northern stretches of the east Lombard Alps than I do to Brescia and the flatlands of the Po Valley. These scenes almost seem familiar to me, and I know that this is mostly perception; although there is a such thing as ancestral memory. One of the recent videos posted here explained this in detail. Any mountains at least have always felt like familiar territory to me. I have tremendous balance, even on steep ground. In my entire life I have only fallen once due to a rope that ripped apart.

One of these videos showed a farm at one of the train stops. Some of the scenery reminded me of the fifty mile drive along Highway 101 from San Francisco to Santa Rosa (it is also about the same distance from Brescia to Poschiavo). One can still see many farms and displays of rural life, ironically much of it developed by northern people (Genoese, Lucchesi, Piedmontese, Ticinese) long ago. The contrast between urban Milan, Bergamo, or Brescia, and the nearby Lombard Alps--reminds me locally of the contrast between urban San Jose and the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Sonoma County easily reminds one of the rolling hills and vineyards of Tuscany, while Lake County to the north looks much like one of the Lombard-Alpine lake regions. Just in general, California is much like Italy. If you could press down a giant cookie cutter in the shape of Italy, over California, it would resemble the basic natural terrain and weather of the peninsula. I like to call the region consisting of the three Brescian valleys (Val Camonica, Val Trompia and Val Sabbia), the province of Sondrio (Valtellina, Valchiavenna), the Bergamo Alps, and the few small Lombard regions of Graubünden as "the Valtellinese Hinterland."

Bernina Express from Tirano to St. Moritz

Trenino Bernina, Inverno, Tirano - St. Moritz - Full HD


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