"A tale of two (Italian) cities" Top 5 Page for this destination Bergamo by toonsarah

Bergamo Travel Guide: 1,105 reviews and 4,402 photos

Città Alta

Bergamo was a lovely location in which to hold the 2012 VT Euromeeting. It has something for everyone – a picturesque old town (Città Alta) full of character, good restaurants, accommodation to suit a variety of budgets, and pretty surroundings for day trips.

Bergamo is a city of two halves – or maybe arguably three! The more modern part is Città Bassa, the “low city”, and the name is a clue to its location, at the foot of the hill that is home to Città Alta, the “upper city”. It was in the latter that I spent most of my time, and it became very definitely my favourite. With beautiful churches (especially the stunning Santa Maria Maggiore), winding cobbled streets leading to sudden views of the plains below, ancient tower houses and the marvellous Piazza Vecchia, this is Italy at its most charming.

Above Città Alta is the third part of the city, San Vigilio, linked to it (as is Alta to Bassa) by a funicular railway. Each part of the city has its own character and merits exploration.

The centre of Bassa is relatively modern and commercial, though it has some buildings of note, in particular from the 1930s. It also has the railways station, plenty of hotels and the expected modern shops etc. It is a convenient base for your trip (though we preferred to stay in Alta) but for me lacks the character of the older parts of the city. However, away from the grand avenues, some neighbourhoods still retain the character of the time when people first spread down here from Alta. Unfortunately I didn’t have the opportunity to explore Bassa as thoroughly as I would have liked so these I will investigate for sure should I return to Bergamo one day.

Alta though is special! It has an enviable hill-top location, surrounded by its medieval walls and with extensive views over Bassa to the plains beyond. It oozes history and is a photographer’s dream!

San Vigilio feels more like a village, or at least an affluent suburb. It has castle ruins, smart-looking villas and even better views than Alta, including views of the rooftops and towers of Alta itself. It is a great vantage point from which to appreciate the charms of this lovely corner of Italy.

A few words of explanation ...

Visiting a destination for a Euromeeting is, I have found, not quite the same as visiting it independently. Your impressions are coloured by those of others around you, and by the fact that you are focusing as much on socialising as on sightseeing. But as i stayed on for a while to see more of Bergamo with Chris, who had joined us part way through the weekend, my Bergamo experience is a mix of Euromeeting and independent exploration.

For instance: there are lots of great places to eat in Bergamo, and plenty of local dishes to try. My favourite of these was Casoncelli, a delicious pasta dish with ravioli-like pockets stuffed with sausage-meat served with bacon lardons, butter, grated cheese and sage – yummy! I haven’t written reviews of the restaurants where we had the group meals, however, as I think it’s unfair to judge a place by the catering they provide for a large group, and also without any menu options I would be judging them on dishes that I might not normally have chosen. But I have included restaurants I visited with Chris and with smaller groups of Vters for “unscheduled” pit stops!

I have linked my tips to form a narrative of my time in Bergamo (though I have rearranged them just a little to give more coherence). If you would like to follow them in this order, please start here with my train journey to the city. Of course you can also read the tips in sections if you prefer to get see all the sights at once, move on to all those delicious meals and so on. Whichever way you read it, I hope you enjoy my impressions of Bergamo.

And last, but definitely not least, a special thank you to Sue, Gilly and Jane for organising such a super meeting in such a lovely city!

Pros and Cons
  • In a nutshell:A wonderful location for a VT meeting!
  • Last visit to Bergamo: Jun 2012
  • Intro Updated Aug 7, 2012
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Reviews (42)

Comments (11)

  • Maurizioago's Profile Photo
    6 hours ago

    Very good page! I will read it on later. Now it is almost lunch time.

    Greetings from grey Italy!

    • toonsarah's Profile Photo
      4 hours ago

      Thank you Maurizio. London too is a bit grey today though we have had lots of sun recently. Please arrange some Italian sun for early September when I will be in Gubbio again :-)

  • IreneMcKay's Profile Photo
    Sep 23, 2013 at 2:43 AM

    Very interesting and informative page. Irene

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Oct 13, 2012 at 1:48 AM

    It sounds like you enjoyed yourself in Bergamo! How nice to have good guides, this makes all the difference when on tour. Good food, Hotel, and good company, you couldn't ask for more!

    • toonsarah's Profile Photo
      Oct 13, 2012 at 4:14 AM

      Thank you Dee - it was a great VT meeting in a lovely city :-)

  • starship's Profile Photo
    Aug 17, 2012 at 7:00 AM

    Sarah, another pleasure to read your excellent Bergamo page though the reading spanned two days. A perfect weaving of history, observation, advice and visual charm! Brava!

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Aug 10, 2012 at 1:25 PM

    Yes, I certainly did enjoy reading this fine new page on Bergamo. Very informative, well written and well researched as always! Bergamo is high on my list of places I want to visit, preferably during the Donizetti Festival (which up to now I have always missed because of teaching commitments here in Frankfurt – the same reason I couldn’t attend the EuroMeet in Bergamo).

  • planxty's Profile Photo
    Aug 9, 2012 at 4:45 AM

    That Vineria Cozzi loks like some piece of work. I'm getting hungry just reading about it! fergy.

  • ettiewyn's Profile Photo
    Aug 8, 2012 at 10:10 AM

    Hi Sarah, I loved reading your Bergamo page, you described everything so well that I really felt like travelling around with you! Fantastic tips as always, and a great combination of practical info, history, your personal impressions and of course the VT meeting :-)
    I just returned from my first visit to Italy yesterday and cannot wait to return and explore more... :-)

  • EasyMalc's Profile Photo
    Aug 8, 2012 at 3:07 AM

    Just the information I need for getting around Bergamo Sarah. Great

  • Trekki's Profile Photo
    Aug 6, 2012 at 10:51 PM

    Oh fascinating morning read, thank you Sarah :-)) It was a bit strange, many names you mention rang a bell, but it was only when you tell about Bartolomeo Colleoni that I realised how tight the bonds to Venezia have been. It is his statue I saw so many times when I was staying in Venezia (in front of church San Giovanni & Paolo). And even the house names "Ca'" are similar :-) Love the Campanone story, so "he" in Gubbio isn't the only one still in charge to call the people :-) And of course the lions :-) Wow, your tour guide was really excellent and knowledgeable! What an amazing amount of information she gave you all, given the references to her you give in the various sights you'd seen. Oh well, yes, I shall include Bergamo into my wishlist for Italy :-) It looks amazingly beautiful. And I smiled about the best gelato and the nicest piazza. You know which is the most beautiful for me though :-)
    Haha, and I also loved the cheese platter Chris had on your last evening! Love the arrows and "directions" how to eat them :-)

  • suvanki's Profile Photo
    Aug 6, 2012 at 1:39 PM

    Thoroughly enjoyed reading your pages Sarah! It all seems so long ago now!
    Great way of guiding people through your tips - will have to try this!

toonsarah

“I slept on the strange pillows of my wanderlust”

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