"My Tale of Two Cities!" Top 5 Page for this destination Bergamo by suvanki

Bergamo Travel Guide: 1,162 reviews and 4,523 photos

Bergamo - Destination for EuroMeet 2012!!!!

Bergamo is located about 45 km from Milan, sitting 249 metres above sea level in the foothills of the Orobic Alps, which is at the exit of the 2 valleys of the Val Seriana and Val Brembana The Rivers Serio and Brembo flow through the plains.

Bergamo developed in the upper town (Citta Alta). Its name is thought to have Celtic origins, coming from the word 'Bergheim', meaning 'home on the mountain'

The valleys and high ground provided defensive properties for the inhabitants. Typically, Celts surrounded their settlements with walls. In the 2nd Century BC, The Romans took over the town, and remained for another 700 years! In 42BC Bergamo attained Roman Citizenship, and then a Municipium

So what did the Romans do for Bergamo?

Well, The city became an important Military centre. Its Fortress becoming a stop off point for the many divisions of Legionaries marching through the country to or from far flung areas of the Roman Empire. The city walls were strengthened and fortifications added.
The site of the fortress is where the circular tower "Rocca" can be visited today

As a Municipium, the Romans built a forum, roads, an arena, a spa and aqueducts. A system of underground passages, cisterns and wells ensured a constant supply of water for cooking, bathing and relaxing in.

Very little remains from this period. When the Roman Empire began to crumble, Bergamo was invaded by a motley crew of invaders
From the north came barbarians and mercenaries, aiming to grab their bit of the spoils. Visi goths, Huns, Vandals, Longobards, Franks and Methodists (OK, not Methodists!, but it was beginning to sound like the list of deviants from Blazing Saddles!) took it in turn to plunder and destroy this once prosperous city. Attila the Hun turned up in 452 to claim his piece.

If you walk up Via Rocca, near the entrance gate to the castle are some bushes to the right- look for a part of old Roman Road-with grooves worn into it by Roman Chariots. (I didn't find out about this until recently, so missed it).

Thanks to groups of monks restoring and constructing buildings in the city, and surrounding countryside, small centres developed, which provided cultural, economic and religious foundations. By 1000AD Bergamo was back on its feet - This time the Church held the power. Economics played a big part in Bergamos rising strength, with merchants and bankers creating wealth. Virtually all traces of Roman Bergamo were hidden by a frenzy of building work.

The next important change came with Bergamo being handed over to Venetian occupation on 19th April 1428. This was to be a period of influence on the architecture and culture of the city. Trading routes were opened up to beyond the Alps, and trade and cultural exchanges developed between Venice and Bergamo. This led to a new prosperity- wealthy Tradesmen built palaces. Existing buildings were 'fancified'. Musicians, artists, printers, architects, religious and learned men moved into the Bergamo area. Many examples of artwork and paintings from this period can still be seen in the churches and palaces today. Another reminder of this Venetian period are the many examples of the symbol of Venice-the winged lion, which can be seen.
The lower town of Bergamo began to develop, as villages and suburbs were established.

Construction of the Venetian walls around the Upper city began in 1556.

On 13th March 1797 Bergamo underwent another change, this time by French occupation, and then again on 12th June 1814, when Austria took over the rule of the Lombardy-Veneto region.

Garibaldi and around a thousand men (many being local volunteers), left Bergamo in 1860 to liberate southern Italy, leading to the forming of the Kingdom of Italy on 17th March 1861. This led to Bergamo being named "Citta dei Mille"- City of The Thousand.

During the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, the lower city developed further, and became the administrative, social and economic centre of Bergamo.

My First Visit -The Upper Town- Bergamo Alta

Bergamo had been on my list of 'Must See ' Places for a while, so when in October 2008, Ryanair came up with their £1 flight offers (taxes etc included) I was at the front of the queue for my flight to this town!

Ryanair advertise Bergamo Orio Al Serio airport as Milan (which is 45km away). My preference was to visit the Medieval town of Bergamo. I only had a couple of days to spend there, had I had longer, I would have headed out to Lake Como, (or the lesser known Lake Iseo) - easily reached by train or bus.

My flight landed earlier than the expected time of 1455, and I was soon on my way to my hostel in Bergamo, by the airport bus.
I glimpsed bits of the Citta Bassa, (lower town), as we sped through the streets, before alighting at the funicular stop. My hostel was near to this stop -(it took me a while to find).

So after a quick wash, I was out ready to explore. My first stop was to buy a ticket for the funicular.

I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening wandering around the centre of the medieval town.

The highlight for me was coming across the Capella Colleoni and Basillica of Santa Maria Maggiore.

I hadn't read up too much about Bergamo before my trip, so it was one of those special moments, when you just turn a corner and come across an unexpected treasure. I was completely enthralled with the exterior decoration - so much detail.
Walking inside the Basillica was also quite jaw dropping - I returned here a few times during my short stay.

Bergamo is 'My sort of place'- Somewhere to enjoy wandering around the narrow streets, popping into churches, finding a surprise square or view - then there's the food!!! Lots of independent shops and small family run restaurants/ tratorias.
I can usually tell how much I've liked a place by the number of photos that I've taken - Yes, I've got LOTS of pics of Bergamo!!

Bergamo again!! The Lower Town - Citta Bassa

I enjoyed my trip to Bergamo so much, & vowed to return one day. I hadn't expected it would be so soon! 6 months later I was back, with 6 friends, to celebrate Patsys 50th Birthday.

When deciding on a place to spend our weekend away we look for a place that;
- We can fly to from near our home,
- Offers good flight times - ie not flying at 'stupid o' clock'
- Offers the longest length of time in a place - we flew out Friday at 11.50, arriving at Orio Al Serio airport at 14.55 - giving us Friday afternoon and night, all day Saturday and Sunday morning, before returning to the airport for our flight at 15.20
- A short transfer from the airport to our accommodation. (About 15 minutes by the airport bus to Bergamo station, our hotel was a few minutes walk away
- Has a mix of things to see and do (a bit of culture, some eating and drinking! with some local character and atmosphere.
Bergamo ticked all the boxes!

This time I stayed in Citta Bassa.
We arrived to brilliant sunshine, but looking out of my hotel window, I saw that the sky had darkened - we'd only stepped a few feet from our hotel, and the heavens opened! Sheltering from the rain, we spotted a bus that was heading to Citta Alta, and ran for it! A few minutes later, we alighted at the funicular stop.
It was nice to be back here, showing 'my gang' the delights of the old town.

In the Palazzo Vecchie, we enjoyed our first 'holiday drink' at Bar Flora, where I'd been a few times during my last visit, before dashing up the Torre Civica, to catch the stunning views, before it closed. The snow covered Alps, with the sun shining on them were quite breath taking.

Our plan to go back to the hotel to shower and change before returning to eat altered. We decided to stay and eat at Restaurante Pizzeria Franco, which was a good choice.
Spotting the Tucan Irish pub, we popped in for a nightcap. Little did we know then, that we'd be the 'last ones standing'. Gone 2am, we left the bar for a walk back to our hotel - The funicular having closed a few hours previously

Next morning, we caught the train to Milan, and spent a few hours there. (To be honest, I found the bit that we saw of Milan to be quite underwhelming!

As our weekend was to celebrate Patsys 50th Birthday, we planned a surprise for her - champagne served on the hotel terrace. The hotel kindly provided a handsome waiter to serve our drinks - Patsy was quite overcome with emotion!
As it was quite late, we decided to eat near our hotel , rather than venture upto the old town. We had a great meal at the Restaurante Piemontese, followed by cocktails at Bar Code 212.

Sunday am, we spent a few hours wandering around Citta Bassa. A cycle race had just ended, but we got to see some of the prize giving, before a spot of window shopping, and browsing the stalls of a food market. We lost track of time, resulting in a sprint back to our hotel to grab our cases, and catching the bus back to the airport.

A 3rd visit for May 2011 was planned 'in secret' !! Gillybob, leics and myself had realised that Bergamo was an ideal location for a Euro Meet, our proposal was accepted and ****
June 1st -3rd 2012 Bergamo is the location for EurMeet 2012 Chosen due to it's excellent location, transport links, character and ooodles of things to see and do here or nearby!

December 9th - 12th Gilly and I returned to Bergamo - mainly to book 3 restaurants for EurMeet. Thanks to pollon (Chiara), who joined us on the Saturday with Alex, we booked the first one, then by Monday morning, all 3 were booked.
We also enjoyed a spot of Christmas shopping at the Christmas Markets in Citta Bassa.

MARCH 23-28th 2012Gillybob and I visited Bergamo for a final reccy before EurMeet. Once again pollon and Alex joined us. We 'tested' some new restaurants/bars and took the tram to Albino too.

EurMeet June 2012 Worked out fine!

November 29th - December 2nd 2013 - Gillybob, Yumyum and myself visited Bergamo -Enjoyed a relaxing weekend and meeting up with the TI crowd!

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Photogenic town! Plenty to see and do! Access to other towns/ cities and The Lakes
  • Cons:The stony roads and pavements- Ouch, my feet!!!
  • In a nutshell:Two Cities in One - The Best of both worlds!
  • Last visit to Bergamo: Oct 2015
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (105)

Comments (31)

  • STEFZAMM's Profile Photo
    Mar 28, 2016 at 7:07 AM

    Hello Suvanki, thank you for these great tips. Unfortunately I will only have a few hours in Bergamo and was hoping you could suggest between citta Alta and Citta Bassa, simply to make the most of my visit. What's your personal favorite?

  • magor65's Profile Photo
    Jun 20, 2014 at 11:13 AM

    Your page is just great; there's so much information presented in a fascinating way. There's a bit of everything here: history, your personal views and impressions and tips about food and drinks. I had no idea that campari (btw my favourite drink) was invented in Milano. I visited Bergamo a few weeks ago for a weekend with Ryanair, and would love, just like you, to go there again.

    • suvanki's Profile Photo
      Jun 24, 2014 at 3:53 AM

      Hi, Malgorzata! Thank you very much for your kind comments (and ratings) on my Bergamo page - very much appreciated!!
      Yes, Bergamo is one of my favourite places to visit, a place that I never tire of, and I'm still discovering new places there. I hope that you get to visit there again.

  • starship's Profile Photo
    Dec 14, 2013 at 2:05 PM

    Hi Sue, think I have finally determined it must be you who recently sent me a postcard from Bergamo!! If so, thank you so much! I will have fun reading your newest tips on this city which you seem to like very much!! Thanks again!

    • suvanki's Profile Photo
      Dec 15, 2013 at 3:34 PM

      Hi! Glad the card arrived safely, though I think it was Sonja ( Yumyum) that organised your card this time.
      Yes, I do like Bergamo very much, and hope to return again soon!

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    Dec 10, 2013 at 12:52 PM

    Hello, Sue! Thanks for sharing your experiences and creating this comprehensive page and with a lot of details and insights!

  • Roadquill's Profile Photo
    Nov 27, 2013 at 9:05 PM

    Nice page? brings back a lot of good memories?.

    • suvanki's Profile Photo
      Nov 27, 2013 at 10:01 PM

      I 'll be back there this weekend - really looking forward to it!

  • IreneMcKay's Profile Photo
    Sep 22, 2013 at 11:57 PM

    Great page,; very interesting and detailed tips. Irene

    • suvanki's Profile Photo
      Sep 23, 2013 at 11:03 AM

      Thanks for visiting my Bergamo page and for your kind comment (and ratings?) Much Appreciated!!

  • Gillybob's Profile Photo
    Nov 27, 2012 at 2:54 AM

    Re-fortified, I shall return to my work duties! Gillybob greetings

  • aussirose's Profile Photo
    Aug 8, 2012 at 4:35 AM

    Wow....wow...and WoW!! :o) What an awesome page Sue! Too much to comment on haha. Love your opening page and stories... I read them all! Didn't read all the tips though ;o) Just loved all the pix of the meet! You guys did so well :o) What a wonderful meet mate! Hugs, Ann xx

  • barbskie's Profile Photo
    Jul 14, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    Beautiful Bergamo!! I love the setting of the Upper Town and the fortified walls.

  • spidermiss's Profile Photo
    Jun 14, 2012 at 1:47 PM

    Great you had a great time! See you soon in Skipton! x

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