Do you have the hump? You want to break free from reality and experience La Dolce Vita? For all these symptoms, the doctor should prescribe you a visit to Bergamo! In a small, charming Italian town that will allow you to distance yourself from everyday life thanks to the magical atmosphere, as well as moments of pleasure… delicious coffee, the glass of prosecco, Italian cuisine. Regardless if you spend there 5 hours, 1 day or the whole weekend!
How to get there?
Check your local low-cost airlines! From Poland, both Wizzair and Ryanair fly to Mediolan-Bergamo (BGY-Orio al Serio) if you’re lucky you can book your round-trip ticket for less than €20!! Normally they cost around €40. Isn’t that beautiful?! That for the price of a railway ticket you can teleport to the totally different land where time flies slower?!
OK, so you probably thinking it’s to beautiful to be true… there must be a catch! Probably the airport is in the a desolate place? Calm down, every 20 minutes you have bus (numer 1) that will take you from the airport to the city center in few minutes (next to the bus number you have displayed the name of the last stop)!
While getting out from the arrivals hall, on the right you will find a tourist information office, where you can buy two types of bus tickets: 24-hour for 5 euros and 72-hours for 7 euros (valid from the moment you punch it). With those tickets you can change buses as many times as you want, also you’ll be able to use the Funicolare train, which I will mention later. Ah, do not forget to take a free map of the city in the tourist information, it will make it easier for you to get around.
Okay, what about the accommodation? When I’m in Bergamo I’m always using Airbnb website, where people rent their houses. Depending on your funds you can choose between a separate room (1 night for 2 people starts from approx. 40 euros) or the whole apartment (1 night for 2 people starts from 50 euros). Usually, I travel at a very low budget and I must admit that I appreciated this form of accommodation after hundreds of nights spent in hostels in dormitories for 4 or 20 people. On the Airbnb we have four walls for ourselves at the same price. If you never used that site, I invite you to use my registration link, which will give you € 23 on the first trip (all you need to do is click here: link to the Airbnb portal ).
What to see in Bergamo?
Ok, so you’ve arrived! You have place to sleep, now it’s time for the icing on the cake – the sightseeing! I have only one request, hide your watch in the pocket and enjoy the beauty of Lombardy, because you have just come to one of the most beautiful cities in Italy!
Bergamo is divided into two parts Citta Bassa (the lower city where the life goes on) and Citta Alta (the upper city, which is actually an old town). If you only have a few hours to explore, take the bus (line 1) from the airport straight to the Stazione Inferiore Funicolare viale Vittorio Emanuele stop, getting off the bus on the opposite side of the road, you will see the building with the Citta Alta sign. There is a historic railway in it, which you get to the top and so you will not have to climb the stairs on foot (if you bought a 24 or 72-hour ticket, you don’t need to buy another one, it’s enough to show it to the controller).
After getting off the train you will get to Piazza Mercato Delle Scarpe. From here we follow Via Gombito street until we reach Piazza Vecchia with a small fountain in the middle. On the way did you have an espresso? Not yet, I suggest you sit in one of the cafes on the square and enjoy the surroundings. The white building in the neoclassical style is the Palazzo Nuovo (inside you can find the library). The building with arcades is Palazzo della Ragione, the oldest city hall in Italy. Right next to it, we have the Campanone tower, where the belfry used to be, whose main task was to warn residents of the impending danger so that they could close the four gateways to the city in time. Today at the top there is a viewpoint. For climbing the 300 steps, you have to pay € 3 (don’t worry there is also a lift for the lazy ones).
Did you finish your coffee and ice creams? Well, then we are moving on!! Behind the town hall is the Duomo square. You can find there a stunning Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. Admission is free, you only need to keep in mind the opening hours (from Mon to Saturday 9am-12:30pm, 2:30 -5:00pm, and on Sundays 9:00am – 1:00pm, 3:00pm – 6:00pm). It is really worth to get inside, it’s an architectural gem of Bergamo. You can also visit the 15th-century Colleoni chapel with frescoes and the Cathedral of Saint Alexander of the Duomo di Bergamo (opening hours: Monday to Friday 7:30 am – 12:00 pm and 3:00pm-6: 30 pm, on weekends and holidays 7:30am-6: 30 pm).
We return to Gombito Street, which is further transformed into Via Bartolomeo Colleoni. Don’t hurry, look inside the shops, patisseries and restaurants. Take pleasure in walking this narrow, cute street. Next, go under the clock and follow the sidewalk to one of the arcades on the right, until you reach Piazza Lorenzo Mascheroni street. If you get a little tired, sit on one of the benches on the opposite side of the road and enjoy the view of a charming hill. When you have a little breath, go to the left and after 200 meters turn behind the bus stop left into the street Largo di Porta S. Alessandro (you have to go through a brick building). As soon as you pass tit on your right, you will see another Funicolare S. Vigilio train stop. The procedure is the same as before (you show your bus ticket and drive up). When the train stops at the top, do not go out onto the street, but enter the observation deck through the door on the left. Your will see old town from the top. I must admit that I have already been to this city several times, but every time this view of red brick roofs mesmerized me.
If you aren’t tired you can climb up the hill to see the ruins of the Vigilio castle (while leaving the train stop, you have to go to the right), but if you have little time, this is not an obligatory point.
We return to the old town, after passing the tower with the clock, turn right into the Piazza Lorenzo Mascheroni street and walk straight ahead to Via Arena to the rear of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. Going straight ahead you will reach Piazza Mercato Delle Scarpe square, from which I recommend you turning right onto Via S. Giacomo. This street will take you to the gate Porta San Giacomo with the ramparts, from which the entire panorama of the city will be visible again. If you aren’t tired yet you can go down to Citta Bass on foot, if you don’t have time catch a bus and ride to the city center.
In the Lower Town (Citta Bassa) my favorite streets are Via Sant’Orsola and Via Sant’Alessandro, very nice is also Via XX Settembre which ends with a small square with fountain and cafeterias.
Where to eat?
Pasticceria Caffè Sant’Orsola (Via Sant’Orsola, 3 / c) nice cafe, where the locals come to drink a refreshing espresso. If you like to listen to Italian, while being in the lower town drop by for coffee here.
Pizzeria Il Fornaio (Via Bartolomeo Colleoni, 3) for a long time I wondered whether to recommend you this place or not, because once I ate a sensational pizza there, and the second time well they could have a bad day. One thing is for sure it is always crowded and everything is always fresh. You point by the finger which pizza you want, how big piece and boom it goes to the stove. It’s good to share portion, because they are really taste, and rickshaws don’t drive in Bergamo. The cost of pizza : 4 to 7 euros. Opening hours: 8:00 am-7:30 pm
Bar Il Coccio (Via Sant’Alessandro 54) if you are in the lower town and you’re hungry, pop in. The menu is modest, but we can choose from a dozen of typically Italian dishes. You will eat a nutritious dinner for a few euros. Opening hours: 11:00am – 3:00pm, Mon closed)
Trattoria D’Ambrosio Da Giuliana (Via Broseta 58) great restaurant for dinner. You will meet mainly the locals here. Sometimes you will have to wait for a table, but it’s worth it! This is a classic Italian Trattoria with an energetic owner who looks after everything. You can choose between different sets, which include local wine and open salad bar. I always order the local delicacy Casoncelli (dumplings), as well as divine Tiramisu (the price of a set is 18 euros). Opening hours: 7:30 pm – 11:00 pm