A real-life tale of two cities, Bergamo is one of Italy’s most surprising treasures – and nothing like the “surprising treasure” your cat leaves lovingly on your doorstep! Very much alive and not at all furry (except after a particularly big night in one of its many fantastic bars), Bergamo is a scenic wonderland resting in the foothills of the Alps in the picturesque Lombardy region.
Bergamo is divided into the upper and lower parts of town, so make sure to ride the funicolare (a fancy word for tram) from the gorgeous hilltop Cittá Alta (upper town) to the bustling modern Cittá Bassa (lower town). Bergamo is famous for its medieval charm and a stroll to the small village of San Vigilio will not disappoint.
Bergamo’s Top 10
10. City Walls Take a stroll along the walls to see the most breathtaking view of the surrounding Lombardy countryside.
5. il Lavatoio To see Bergamo’s most ancient public washtub (and you thought your bathroom needed renovating), head down to Piazza Luigi Angelini.
9. Notti di Luce Bergamo’s cultural hub. There is always a constant stream of entertainment to discover.
4. il Campanone Also known as the Torre Civica, this massive bell tower dates back to the 12th Century.
8. The Piazza Vecchia In the heart of the old town, this is a finely mixed cocktail of medieval and Renaissance architecture.
3. Biblioteca Civic How many civic libraries do you know that are built from gorgeous white marble?
7. Santa Maria Maggiore This church is a must-see. Something this beautiful stands a good chance of renewing forgotten faith.
2. GAMeC The Gallery of Contemporary Art provides an engaging counterpoint to the historical density everywhere else.
6. Via Gombito Dating back to Roman times, this lane is lined with Bergamo’s most charming bars and (pricey) shops on the ground floors of medieval houses.
1. Accademia Carrara If European history floats your boat, this contains northern Italy’s most important collection of medieval, Renaissance and Baroque paintings.
- Cittadella – This 14th-century fortress in the upper city is largely unchanged.
- Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore – In 1137, construction began on the existing edifice of a church from the 7th century.
- Rocca – This castle in the upper city was built in 1331.
- Palazzo del Ragione – The seat of local government when the city was a free commune in the 12th century.
- Battistero – This ancient baptistery dates back to the 14th century.
Bergamo Art & Culture
- Cappella Colleoni – A showcase of Renaissance art and architecture containing the tomb of a local historic personage, Bartolomeo Colleoni.
- San Michelel al Pozzo Bianco – This church preserves many of the paintings of Lorenzo Lotto.
- The Caffi Natural Science Museum – The local natural history museum that displays fossils from prehistoric times.
- Bergamo Poesia – An annual poetry reading.
- Accademia Carrara – An art school and gallery, this edifice contains art spanning centuries of Italian history.
- Vineria Cozzi – The pasta and rice are popular, and you can sample the wines for free in the courtyard.
- Antica Hosteria del Vino Buono – Try authentic local dishes like the cheese-covered casoncelli here.
- Da Vittorio – This inexpensive inn also operates a restaurant downstairs.
- Tresoldi – Take a break from shopping to enjoy warm, freshly homemade bread.
- Orio Center – Near Bergamo’s airport, this is the largest shopping mall in the region.
Gay & Lesbian Bergamo
- The City Sauna – This gay sauna offer massages for guests over the age of 18.
- Cruising Canyon – As the name suggests, this bar is a great cruising spot for gays.
- Bomberos – A gay-oriented discotheque open to locals and tourists alike.
- Divina Fashion Bar – An LGBT bar in Bergamo.
- Mamo’s Bar – A gay bar that caters to lovers of American style and music.
- Lorenzo Rota Botanical Garden – Open daily during the warm months.
- Parco dei Colli di Bergamo – This park covers more than 47 square kilometres, with a variety of recreational possibilities.
- Morla – Stroll down the walkways along this river that runs through the heart of the city.
- Lake Endine – Locals and tourists alike enjoy recreation at this local lake.
- Cantoneiera Della Presolana – A skiing and snowboarding slope.
- Watch a football game between Bergamo's home team, Atalanta, and one of their visiting competitors.
- See some of the various sports played at Stadio Atleti Azzuri d’Italia, near Via Cesare Battisti.
- Visit Bar Stadio, a popular sports hangout that is located just off of Via Tito Legrenzi.
- See Foppapedretti Bergamo, the local women’s volleyball team well known in the area.
- Enjoy American-style football when you watch the Bergamo Lions play at home.
Late-February brings Bergamo’s Carnival. A million times better than your best friend’s fancy-dress night, this parade will knock your socks off (assuming they’re part of your costume).
Bebop your way over to the Clusone Jazz Festival in mid-June.
Pirouette into the Danza Estate – Contemporary Dance Festival in Upper Bergamo between June and July.
Film buffs, be sure to make it along to the International Art Cinema Festival from mid- to late-July.
Bask in the glow of the festive wonderland that is Bergamo’s Christmas Village from late-November – complete with wooden chalets and an open-air ice-skating rink.
When To Go
If you love the cold, look no further than Bergamo in winter. And don’t forget to check out the many ski resorts just out of town!
Summers in Bergamo can be quite warm, particularly in July, with temperatures reaching an average of 27°C (82°F).
Spring and autumn are the best times to soak up the magical scenery. The milder temperatures are perfect for walking through town.
Bergamo is not large, so easily the best and most scenic way to get around is on foot.
The hills up to the upper town can be quite tiresome, so the funicolare is your best bet to rest your legs.
Bergamo also has an excellent bus system, and the same ticket can be used on both buses and the furnicolare.
Home to a delicious culinary legacy with environs that includes world class spas, ski resorts and lush vineyards, the town of Bergamo is a wonderful destination in the heart of Lombardy, Italy. Easy to access from Milan, the comune has just under 120,000 people and a slew of historic landmarks to discover. Start with the Città alta in Bergamo, the beautiful old city, and attractions such as the Cittadella, Piazza Vecchia, Cappella Colleoni and 12th century San Michele al Pozzo Bianco.
While a delight to get lost in and flush with exquisite architecture, visitors should eventually explore Bergamo outside the old center, namely in the Città bassa (or lower city), where shops and art galleries abound. Of course, at the foothills of the Alps and with idyllic countryside on the doorstep, Bergamo is a convenient gateway for wine tours, ski resorts and a long line of recreational pursuits. Indeed, the wine and cuisine of Bergamo may cause you to reconsider your return home.
Bergamo enjoys four distinct seasons, with cold, relatively dry winters and hot, rainy summers.
- Winter (December to February) -2-8°C
- Spring (March to May) 3-21°C
- Summer (June to September) 14-28°C
- Fall (October to November) 4-18°C
Bergamo - General information
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