A Heartbroken Bergamo

Beautiful Bergamo our home

Bergamo’s heart is broken. It is impossible to live unaffected in this town at the moment. The whirl of fake news, real news and ambulance sirens surround us everyday. I hope to pay homage to the city of Bergamo today. Let us celebrate this city for all of its beauty and people

By Kristine Fifer Ripamonti edited by Elva Kenna

Bergamo has been my home for nearly seven years. Somehow, we have ended up in the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. As I write, birds are chirping, pans are clinging and ambulance sirens are blazing in the distance. Bergamo’s heart is broken. Countless people have lost their loved ones, taken away by an ambulance. Some never returning home.

Everywhere there is heartbreak and devastation. I want to shine some light through this collapse, to remind people and show the world the beauty that is Bergamo.

The older generation of Bergamo has helped me in making this place my home. They are the foundation of this city. Their values are firmly rooted in the cities bedrock. So many have welcomed me and my family with open arms, willing to share all they have with us and expect nothing in return.  Our first encounter with the Bergamaschi was our neighbors, Franco and Angela. Let them be my example of how benevolent people from Bergamo can truly be.

We moved into our home nearly five years ago with our two year old son. The house came with a spacious garden and like most Italian houses – strong foundations. However, the best part, was our new house sat next door to Angela & Franco. In the last five years, these people have become more then neighbours. Their kindness and openness has planted itself in our families core. They are like adopted grandparents to our children and dear friends to us, we could not imagine a life without them.

We have shared laughs and worries over the years. They love our children as they would their own. Always positive and with a smile. They giggle together, as they watch the goofy absurdities play-out during our kids playtime. Angela brings gifts and hand knitted hats. Franco takes the dog for walks during the day. Sometimes Franco decides to clean our walkway when there has been heavy snowfall. Or when accidents happen. A child’s fall leads to a head injury that requires an abrupt hospital visit.  Franco freely offers to take us. The list is endless folks, but you get the idea. These people are AMAZING, their generosity knows no bounds!

Angela & Franco make preparing home baked treats during the holidays and having shared BBQs all the more special. I love listening to Franco and my father in law chatting with each other on the phone about different things. Always passionate and loaded with hand gestures.

Then comes the hard times, but, we all join together. Losing sleep over Franco’s heart surgery, a scary head injury or more recently Franco’s fever that lasted a week. We find solace in knowing that our support and love for Angela & Franco keeps their spirits high. Especially in this current climate. Angela recently said, “let’s hope he heals, as they are letting us die, the young need help first…we can only pray.” It pained me to hear this, my heart breaking, how could this be happening? But, we are the fortunate ones. In the last week Franco has recovered well, his fever gone and he is staying and resting at home. 

While we mourn the loss of so many. Let us remember to celebrate these people’s lives too.

Let me finish on this. People like Franco and Angela have made this city a place that we can all call home. We celebrate them today.

Thank you.

7 thoughts on “A Heartbroken Bergamo

  1. Irene plunkett says:

    I am in tears reading this . What a wonderful honoring of two wonderful people .! Bergamo is a place of great sadness , as is the whole of Italy . We watch each evening here in Ireland , holding our breath in the hope that the numbers of dead and infected will be lower . Remember we are thinking of you all , sending you love and light each day . My beautiful niece Elva , her husband Kevin and their little boy Rowan are living in Bergamo , never complaining , doing their level best to stay upbeat for each other . So I send love and light to them , to Franco and Angela and to all who live in your beautiful brave city . We are all one family now and I send you all the biggest hug Much love to all x ❤️

    • Kristine says:

      Dear Irene, Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. We are lucky to know such nice people, it makes these difficult times easier. I look forward to the day when we are writing about hapier times in Italy. I know we will get through this, along with the rest of the world.

  2. Anne Kenna says:

    This is such a moving piece. It is also a really important record of history from the real people who are making it with their kindness, humour and humanity. The terrible events all around the world but especially in Italy, have made us all sad and incredulous. We wonder what can help us to make sense of what is happening. Bergamo is such a beautiful city with its lovely architecture, style and conviviality. A coffee sipped in the warm sun, while the world goes by, is a dreamy everyday reality relished by many and one to look forward to again when all the grieving is done and recuperation and recovery emerge. The humanity and kindness of its citizens told in the lives of Franco and Angela is testament to the true spirit of Bergamo …the city is its people. We wish you strength, hope and fortitude in the days ahead. Thank you for this lovely delicate insight into your lives.

    • Kristine says:

      Dear Anne, Thank you for your comment, I really appreciate your kind words. As you say, it is the real people that make history and culture with their kindness. Together we are going to get through this. We wait and hope for the best. Thank you.

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