- Bergamo Alta
- Piazza Vecchia e Cappella Colleoni
- Acccademia Carrara
- More suggestions on tourism & history
The imposing, rampart-like city walls with their decorated gates ought to be off-putting, but instead invite you in. They form the boundary of Città Alta (“Upper City”), the ancient part of the city perched on a hill. While I was here I discovered that Bergamo dates back to the Etruscan period, around 3300BC.
Piazza Vecchia e Cappella Colleoni
My girlfriend Sandra and I were strolling along a cobblestone street when suddenly Piazza Vecchia opened up before our eyes. One of Italy’s most beautiful squares, it’s what the Bergamaschi consider one of the most representative postcards of their city.
Sandra spotted another building by the church, the Cappella Colleoni – tomb of the noble Bergamese mercenary leader Bartolomeo Colleoni, whose strategic abilities and remarkable bravery led him to be named captain of all military forces of the Republic of Venice.
On the way down to the lower, modern town we experienced the funicular railway, similar to a cable car, but on rails. Through its windows we witnessed a remarkable five-minute descent, the modern part of the city spread out beneath us, coloured in shades of orange and distinguished by linear, geometric shapes – just as the great architect Piacentini intended.
As we were not in the mood for old master paintings, we decided to pay a visit to the Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Arts (www.gamec.it) across the street – whoever would have guessed there were so many works of modern art in Bergamo? Here, we took in world-renowned paintings by Kandinsky, Boccioni, Balla, De Chirico and Morandi and many others.
Meanwhile, I went off to look around the large pedestrian street that locals call “Il Sentierone”, and have a coffee outside at one of the many cafés facing the Donizetti Theatre (www.gaetano-donizetti.com), where they were currently staging one of the world’s most famous operas, Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata.
After getting our Italian shopping fix in downtown Bergamo, we headed off to visit the local art gallery of Accademia Carrara (www.accademiacarrara.bergamo.it). According to the guide, this incredible gallery has more than 1,800 paintings on permanent display, including important pieces by Botticelli, Mantegna, Raphael and Canaletto.
- Arli Hotel
- Tiziana Fausti
- Shopping città alta
- LOB Ottica
- More suggestions on shopping
- More suggestions on shopping
After such a full day, we were starting to feel a little tired, and decided to head back to our city centre hotel at Porta Nuova. Sandra had booked a double room at Arli Hotel Business & Wellness, in particular for its brand new spa. No sooner had we stepped in, than she suggested we deserved a relaxing time in the hydropool, followed by a steam bath for me and a massage for her!
Arli Hotel - Business&Wellness
As we travelled through the streets of the centre, we noticed the distinct difference compared with the upper part of Bergamo. This is the city’s linchpin, full of prestigious boutiques stocking the latest trends – clearly visible at the Tiziana Fausti store, where Sandra decided to stop for some shopping.
Shopping città alta
Once out of the cappella we crossed the Via Colleoni, a narrow pedestrian lane full of little restaurants and shops, offering remarkable glimpses of life in a timeless ambiance. Here and there we discovered small and cosy stores that are open every day until late for a spot of after-dinner shopping.
Still in search of shopping opportunities, Sandra wanted to buy a pair of “made in Italy” sunglasses as a souvenir. Upon asking some people, we were recommended the shop LOB Ottica in Curno, where we were really spoilt for choice: Miu Miu, Emporio Armani, Fendi! She walked out with a stunning pair by Dolce & Gabbana.
More suggestions on shopping
|Fratelli Rossetti Calzature
Via XX Settembre, 52
Via XX Settembre, 39
Portici del Sentierone, 40
Via XX Settembre, 125
Via Spaventa Silvio, 5
Via XX Settembre, 42
Via XX Settembre, 58
Via XX Settembre, 22
Galleria Santa Marta, 1
More suggestions on shopping
Via Sant'Orsola, 3/a
|La Città di Babilonia
Via Gombito, 12
Via XX Settembre, 33
Via XX Settembre, 94
Via XX Settembre, 89
Via Monte Grappa, 7
Via Zambonate, 55
Via G. Camozzi, 44
The door lay halfway open, so we decided to sneak in to have a look. Inside, I found a leaflet showing the stunning Castello di Malpaga (www.castellomalpaga.it), residence of Bartolomeo who, in his role as a great Renaissance prince, played host to the most illustrious figures of the 1400s, surrounding himself with philosophers, jesters and military men. Adorning every wall of his castle were beautiful frescos, which can still be enjoyed today.
Castello di Malpaga www.castellomalpaga.it
The season wasn't right for skiing, but we'll come back soon to feel the breath of a natural mountain environment where pure white oases are sprinkled along majestic slopes. Val Seriana and Val Brembana offer a lot of beautiful resorts that combine the joy of skiing and the taste of tradition.
Sarnico it's a lovely town that lies to the south of Iseo Lake, where the Oglio river begins its flow. Besides prestigious liberty villas, Sarnico offers the Regional Natural Park of Oglio Nord.
Just close to Bergamo we had a taste of nature visiting Iseo Lake, a lovely but lesser-known lake in northern Italy, set in a precious crown of mountains and hills scattered with ancient engravings and color schemes.
We didn't have enough time to take a ride, but we knew that there is a very pleasant cycle and walking path across a vast cultural and natural heritage of the Val Brembana. The route partially lays in the old, unused railway track and offers some really incredible views of Alps and Alpine foothills.
More suggestions on leisure & surroundings
in San Pellegrino Terme
Early the next morning after a delicious breakfast, we set off to visit Bergamo’s surrounding area.
First up was the nearby town of Almenno San Salvatore and the 12th-century church of San Tomè. This was followed by a stop at Lurani Cernuschi wine cellar, to enjoy some tastings and to buy a few bottles for drinking with friends when we got home.
While we were there, the inviting flavour of the typical meats cooked on a charcoal grill convinced us to have lunch at their restaurant La Frasca.
Ristorante La Frasca
Exhausted yet extremely relaxed, we chose to dine in at the hotel restaurant, La Delizia – an exquisite experience, my favourite dish being the local, homemade casoncelli (pasta, filled with meat). Sandra opted for one of the many delicious vegetable dishes on offer.
We spent some time visiting Franciacorta, a splendid region of Lombardy, a stone's throw from Bergamo. While learning about the wine production that makes this region famous, we enjoyed a breathtakingly varied landscape awash with colour.
Nearby, we found a lovely little place to have our last authentic meal before heading home: local cheeses and salami for me, and Bergamese stew with polenta for Sandra. Then it really was time to go home.
More suggestions on food & wine
|Taverna del Colleoni dell'Angelo
Piazza Vecchia, 7
|Trattoria del Teatro
Piazza Lorenzo Mascheroni, 3
|Pizzeria da Mimmo
Via Bartolomeo Colleoni, 17
|Giopì e la Margì
Via Borgo Palazzo, 27
Via S. Tomaso, 47
|L'osteria di Valenti
Via Guglielmo d'Alzano, 4
|La Bruschetta Pizzeria
Via Guglielmo D'Alzano, 1