From its birds-eye location in the foothills of the Italian Alps, Bergamo’s medieval old town (or Citta Alta) has the most incredible views. Snow-capped mountains rise up dramatically behind this UNESCO World Heritage Site. And in the foreground, you’ve got vast, sweeping plains – home to the old town’s contemporary counterpart, Citta Bassa.
This unique pairing of old and new makes Bergamo a fascinating place to explore. You’ve got historic architecture and cobbled lanes rubbing shoulders with glitzy shops and modern restaurants. And if that’s not enough, you’ve also got the super-stylish city of Milan and the calm waters of Lake Garda and Lake Como right on your doorstep.
Bergamo’s neighbouring city, Brescia, is just 45 minutes’ drive to the east. It’s a historic place with lots for the culture vultures. The UNESCO-listed Roman Forum tops the list of sights, with Brescia’s castle and two cathedrals following closely. Head to the Piazza della Loggia to soak up the atmosphere with a glass of local fizz, Franciacorta.Milan
An easy hour-long drive south and you’ll be swept up in the fast-paced whirlwind that is stylish Milan. Other than being one of the best places in world for people-watching, it also boasts amazing shopping, iconic architecture and world-class cultural treats. Don your bling and enjoy a night of opera at the glamorous Teatro alla Scala or join the glitterati in Milan’s trendy bars and clubs.Lake Como
One of the most beautiful of Italy’s great lakes is just 2 hours north of Bergamo. Lake Como is a truly idyllic retreat with its luxurious villas, romantic gardens and A-list residents. The shores of the lake are home to pretty villages and towns, where life revolves around enjoying the cool waters and the staggering alpine views. Take a cable car up from the small town of Argegno for one of the steepest climbs in Europe – and the some of the most spectacular views at the end of it.
Exploring BergamoPiazza Vecchia
The main square, at the heart of the Citta Alta, is surrounded with grand buildings and historic sights. A beautiful fountain sits at the centre and the al fresco gelaterias and cafes that line the sides of the square have a lovely, relaxed atmosphere. See how many Venetian statues of lions you can spot amongst the architecture. Many of the old town’s most admired sights are nearby, such as the Palazzo della Ragione and the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore.Ride the funicular railway
This quaint railway links the old and new parts of town. A hit with children, it winds its way up the steep hill treating you to stunning views along the way. Get a day pass and come and go between the two areas as you please.Soak up some culture in the art galleries
Citta Bassa is home to two excellent art galleries, conveniently sitting side-by-side. The grand Academic Carrara Pictures Gallery displays fine art masterpieces by famous Italian artists including Botticelli, Titian and Moroni. It’s sister gallery, GAMeC (Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art) houses a more contemporary collection of paintings and sculptures. A match made in heaven for art lovers.Flex your credit card in Milan
Don’t miss a chance to take a day trip to Milan, the fashion capital of Italy. Whether you want to treat yourself to the latest Versace designs or simply indulge in some window-shopping, Milan does retail therapy on a grand scale. For the best designer boutiques, head to Galleria Vittoria Emanuele in Piazza del Duomo, with its high-fashion names and gorgeous 19th-century glass roof. If your purse would rather you shop on the high-street, via Torino has some great stores. And for alternative and unique designs, you can’t beat the quirky shops on Corso di Porta Ticinese. A real shopper’s paradise.Bergamo beaches
Bergamo is not on the coast so you won’t find any sandy beaches here. But that doesn’t mean there’s no chance of a refreshing dip. Lake Como and Lake Garda are both within easy reach for a day trip. There you can swim in clear, cool waters, try some watersports and relax on pebbly beaches or handy lidos.
With its mountainous surroundings, Bergamo’s food scene is quite different to the lighter Italian food you might have sampled along the Mediterranean. Rice and polenta trump pasta here, with beautiful risottos and hearty meat ragus gracing many menus. Freshwater fish from the lakes is real speciality. And the region is also famous for its cheese – producing favourites from taleggio to mascarpone. Wash everything down with the local Lombardy wines, they’re out of this world!Bergamo restaurants
Bergamo has a lively food scene covering everything from traditional family-run trattorias to sleek Japanese eateries. The historic Citta Alta is the best place to try authentic regional food, while the modern Citta Bassa is home to the more innovative, international restaurants. Wherever you choose, you’re likely to be bowled over by the famous Italian hospitality.
Holidays to Bergamo mix modern city life with historic charm to bring you excitement and relaxation among the mountains. Explore the UNESCO sights of the lofty Citta Alta, then soak up the buzzing vibe in the cosmopolitan shops and bars of the lively Citta Bassa. How’s that for the best of both worlds?
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