On our way to Milan (Lombardy), we decided to stop by the nearby city of Bergamo, about 50 km north of Milan. Bergamo is very well located, close to the low-cost airport of Milan, so we definitely had to visit it! A bus will leave you directly in the city.
How long should I stay in Bergamo?
We just stayed there for one day because we were on our way to Milan, but we had all the time we needed to visit the most interesting places (although we skipped the museums). However, Bergamo is in a very good location and you may use it as a base camp if you’re planning to visit the Great Lakes in the north of Italy!
What’s there to visit in Bergamo?
Bergamo is divided into two parts: the Upper City (Città Alta), which is the old town with all its fortifications, and the Lower City (Città Bassa), where you’ll find most shops, administration, etc.
The Upper City
We decided to start with the Upper City by taking the bus from the airport, which stopped in the uppermost part of the tow – we highly recommend taking this bus as walking all the way up can be very long! You can also reach the Upper City by car or funicular. Once up there, there’s a wonderful view from the Della Rocca Park, a beautiful citadel in the medieval area. The walls are 1,500 years old and Bergamo is one of the four Italian cities that preserve their walls still intact.
After that, get lost in the old town, where you’ll find shops, cafés, etc. You may want to visit the Palazzo della Ragione (Palace of Reason) and the Civic Tower (a great bell tower) whose bells still toll a hundred times every night at 10pm to signal the closing of the doors. Just in front you’ll see the white building of the Angelo Mai library.
Don’t forget to visit the Duomo, the Capella Colleoni and the Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore – the entrance is free, and its gorgeous architecture that took 500 years to build is still in very good state. All the three of them are located in the Old Square (Piazza Vecchia), which famous architect Le Corbusier described as the most beautiful square in Europe!
Via Colleoni connects the Old Public Square and the Citadel Square, and it holds most of the shops in the Upper City. In the Citadel Square you’ll find the Archeological Museum of Bergamo and the Natural Science Museum “Enrico Caffi”.
In the Upper Side there’s also a botanical garden and a language and literature faculty of European relevance.
The streets are paved so you’d better take good shoes for walking, even if the center is quite small.
The Lower City
After having spent the morning visiting the old medieval town, we finished by going through the San Giaccomo gate and its fantastic bridge, and then walked down to the Lower City. Down there, the landscape is very different, with a more modern architectural style. Here you’ll find all the important designer shops and loads of restaurants and cafés.
The main street is Viale Vittorio Emanuele II, a long avenue connecting both parts of the city.
We wandered around the Lower City and finished our visit at the train station, where we took a train to Milan.
We had lunch at a pizzeria, but it was far from exceptional. We had expected something better, but we were disappointed! If you know good places to eat in Bergamo, don’t forget to share!
Don’t hesitate to get lost in the streets as there are lots of beautiful places.
Don’t miss the Upper Town; the views are amazing, especially from the Della Rocca Park and the San Giaccomo gate.
The best would be to start your visit in the Upper Town and then walk down step by step, as it’s on top of a little mountain too high to walk up!
Remember to bring good shoes to walk around the paved streets!
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