Medieval architecture, local cuisine, and an authentic Italian town a little off the beaten path, Bergamo is a stunning destination in Northern Italy worth of a visit on any trip through the region. Characterised by its Venetian Walls, cobbled lanes, and welcoming ambiance, here are five incredible reasons to visit Bergamo ASAP!
If you’re looking for a town which looks untouched by time, then you simply must head to Bergamo. Complete with several ancient churches and all the cobbled lanes you could ever ask for from an Italian city, Bergamo is the kind of place which hasn’t changed for centuries.
History being one of the best reasons to visit Bergamo is especially true when it comes to the narrow streets of the Citta Alta, as well as the ancient 12th-century church of Tempietto di Santa Croce. Nearby, the Old Bishop’s Palace is covered in painted frescoes dating back centuries and the Cappella Colleoni (Colleoni Chapel) is one of the best examples of Renaissance architecture to be found anywhere in Northern Italy.
Pasta, pizza, and all the gelato: steps away from the touristic area of the city there’s plenty of local produce to be found in the form of patisseries and local wines. If you’re looking for a truly authentic Italian dining experience while in Bergamo, then make sure to head to Il Circolino– I swear I’ve never eaten such good food in all my life!
Plus, the dining experience is set against the backdrop of a former prison covered in stunning handpainted frescoes; history and food at its finest! Closer to Bergamo, local Lombardy cuisine mirrors much of the rest of Northern Italy, lacking in tomatoes and focusing more on butter and meat-based dishes. The most famous local dish is the risotto alla milanese, a rice dish flavoured with saffron.
Hidden Gem of Lombardy
Of all the reasons to visit Bergamo, make it the fact that you’ll be visiting a place which many miss. With regular budget flights touching down in Bergamo’s airport on a daily basis, many assume that Bergamo is the kind of place you fly into, and then leave directly. However, this is most certainly not the case and avoiding this Italian town would be your first mistake!
Instead, ensure to dedicate at least a night or two to discovering the best attractions Bergamo has to offer. After all, it’s not every day of your Northern Italian trip that you’ll discover a city that’s relatively underrated in comparison with its nearby neighbours, such as Milan and Lake Como, yet remains a destination which retains all the charm of a unique holiday experience.
Citta Alta (Upper City)
Bergamo is a city divided into two parts; largely owing to its status as a hillside town- in all senses of the word. The newer part of the city is the Città Bassa (lower city), which as its name would suggest, sits in a lower position on a fairly flat plateau. This area is a financial hub and is complete with plenty of open piazzas and wide boulevards.
The oldest part of the city is divided into two further parts; the touristic centre (where you’ll find the Duomo and all the restaurants), as well as the Rocca di Bergamo area, site of an ancient fortress and now home to some breathtaking terraces and restaurants. While in the Città Alta, make sure to enjoy a traditional Italian coffee while people watching in the main town square, Piazza Vecchia.
Breathtaking Views of the Alps and Beyond
For the very best view in Bergamo, you simply must take the higher funicular up the side of the mountain and straight to the very top of the city where Bergamo’s stunning position in the Alpine foothills really comes into its own. Wander around the ancient walls of the Castello di San Vigilio and take in the panoramic views.
For the very best photos of Bergamo, take the funicolare San Vigilio just before sunset to capture the Citta Alta and Citta Bassa in golden light. Some of the other best views of the lower city can be found along the Venetian walls (where you may even spot a vineyard or two if you’re lucky).