It’s hard not to fall in love with every city or town in Italy, no matter where I go, it never stops to amaze me. And Bergamo wasn’t the exception!
As my flight landed at “il Caravaggio” (or Orio al Serio), Bergamo, a small (and rather chaotic) airport 2km from the city center, I decided to take about 2 days to tour the city. Getting to the center is very easy, from the airport gates leaves the bus number 1, which goes all the way up to Citta Alta (Old Town).
Note that an unlimited 24 hour pass costs 5 euros and can also be used to access the cable cars. Single ride is 2.30 euros by the way! Purchase them at the Tourist Info desk and remember to stamp the once in the Bus!
The most important sights are at walking distance, although with some climbs in between, anyway, there’s always the alternative to take the bus or funicular around the city. Although it is possible to tour it in a day, the ideal would be to take 2 days to not miss anything and believe me it is worthy of your time!
The city is divided into two sections “La Citta Alta” or Upper City and “La Citta Bassa”, Lower City. As these name suggest, the first one is uphill, surrounded by fortified walls and one of the best preserved medieval sites along Lombardy. Inside the so-called Venetian Walls comes into view picturesque cobbled streets and beautiful medieval, Baroque and Renaissance buildings.
My suggestion is to start your tour at the Porta San Giacomo if you walked up the hill or maybe Piazza Mercato delle Scarpe if you took the funicular. Once you get to the botton of Citta Alta you will think twice before taking those hundreds of steps or jumping into the funicar! Specially in summer season…
If you decide to take the funicalar anyway, just walk around the corner to this majestic gate surrounded by a terrific view of the lower city.
Here I will leave a map with the Citta Alta’s highlights!
Porta di San Giacomo
The main access to the city! Take the time to admire its stunning details, as well as the surroundings… the views from this spot are magnificient! If you went up the hill on foot this the exact spot to take a break! Enjoy!
Basilica di Santa María Maggiore
This is the jewel of Bergamo, draws attention for its very rare blend of overloaded styles, inside it hosts spectacular frescos, truly elaborated ornaments, every detail is there to be admired, just wow!
Keep walking until the main nave and look at the ceiling, exquisite! It’s not a massive Basilica like the ones you may find in Rome but this one in particular, it’s a work of art as a whole.
The mausoleum chapel where Colleoni, a notable (and wealthy) politician of the city, decided to become inmortal: The exterior is impressive, though not so much the interior. After visiting Santa Maria Maggiore, it will seem a little humble.
Fun facts! They say that touching the outer banner with the three testicles gives you luck … so why not give a try?
Duomo di Bergamo
Although its exterior isn’t very eye-catching, just wait until you get inside! It totally surprises you with its coffee and golden tones and beautiful stained glass windows that appear in the shadows that reign in the place.
Old city Tower
It can be seen from far away… this tower stands out for its fantastic view of the City. Climb the “Campanone” for 3 euros! Don’t worry, an elevator will take you almost to the top, then a few more steps and there you are!
Enjoying the sunset from this viewpoint may be a great choice! The bells usually ring often, so don’t let it catch you off guard or you will frighten you badly!.
Surrounded by dazzling buildings with the Fontana del Contarini in its center, worth wandering for a while to admire and appreciate every corner and… why not stop for a coffee?
Walls and Venetian gates
History tells that Bergamo was never exposed, and while looking at those impressive walls it maybe clear why. Built in the sixteenth century with a length of 6 km approximately, owns 14 bastions and 4 marvelous doors.
Along the Citta Alta we find two funiculars, one connecting it with the Citta Bassa and other one that can takes us to the Castle of San Vigilio.
If you thought that Bergamo ends there … well no!! There is a whole Bergamo beyond the Citta Alta!
Near the door of Sant Agostino appears Academia Carrara and Gamec. Although it doesn’t have the oppulence of large museums, houses stupendous works of art by important artists such as Rafael, Botticelli, Donatello and Mantegna among others.
If you are an art lover I would recommend it 100%!
Another jewel of Bergamo in my opinion is the Castle San Vigilio, although only ruins remain of it, the walk up there is truly beautiful and with breathtaking views. Of course you can also get there by funicular if you want to skip the trekking. Remember that the city’s cable cars are included if you bougth the 24-hour pass! Around the station there are restaurants and cafes, but to reach the top there are a few more steps ahead. Once at the top you will see the privileged view, not only of the city but also eventhe Alps in a clear day!