There’s a place in Val Brembana, not far from Bergamo, that is only reachable by foot. You can drive to Camerata Cornello, a small town in the mountains, and then you start to climb among trees and bushes, until you get to the Medieval village of Cornello dei Tasso. In Italy it is known for giving birth to the Italian poet Torquato Tasso, author of Jerusalem Delivered. But there’s something curious about this place, which is definitely charming. Here can be found the first postage stamp issued in the world, because the Tasso family was involved with the postal service between hundreds of European cities.
Poetry and postal service in Cornello dei Tasso
To learn about the Tasso family you need to visit the Tasso Museum, with various location in the village. In the rooms are displayed old stamps, letters, books, envelopes, documents and sketches, maps and objects, all connected with the story of those who organized the postal communications in Tyrol, Venice and also the Papal States. They also carried values and taxes, and in fact, the word taxi comes from both this type of service and the family name.
At the bottom of the village flows a river, and in the green fields beyond the church graze the goats. It’s a very bucolic landscape, which hasn’t changed much throughout the centuries. Walking up towards the village, you run into a porticoed street. All the walls and arches are made of stone, with a wooden ceiling and trees and vines in every corner. It might well be the setting of a fairytale.
The houses of the richest stand in the upper part of the town, as well as the Tasso palace, which dominated and guarded the valley. It has been recently restored; actually, the whole village is perfectly preserved, a Medieval jewel in the North of Italy. There’s a lovely B&B in the village, but if you want to explore the whole area, you can stay in Bergamo and get here by bus. It’s not hard to believe that a poet lived here. The peaceful landscape, the green mountains, the voice of the river make it easy to sit down and write.
San Pellegrino Terme: thermal baths, water and biscuits
Val Brembana is not as renowned as the Dolomites or the Italian Alps, but it’s an area worth exploring. Situated a few kilometers from Cornello dei Tasso, San Pellegrino Terme is a first-class thermal center that became famous during the Belle Époque. The healing waters from the springs of San Pellegrino have been knows for centuries, and its bottled water can be found in shops and restaurants all over the world.
It’s so pleasant to take a stroll along the river, watching the imposing Grand Hotel that is currently under restoration. I particularly like the Spa Building, with its lavish gardens, porticos, marbles and mosaics. A day or two in this places will free you from all the stress of everyday life. In the main street are many nice shops and cafés, among which Bigio. People come to this elegant restaurant & pastry shop for their homemade shortbread cookies, fragrant, healthy and delicious. If you happen to be here in summertime, try their ice cream (yogurt & biscotto): it’s super.
•B&B La tana dei Tasso, Via Cornello 19, 24010 Camerata Cornello
•Tasso Museum, Cornello dei Tasso. Free entrance.
•Bigio, hotel, restaurant & café, via Giacomo Matteotti 2, San Pellegrino Terme