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Bergamo

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Bergamo [1] is a scenic town in Italy's Lombardy region.

Understand

Bergamo is a pretty town of some 120,000 people nestling in the foothills of the Alps. Widely acclaimed as a city of rare beauty, Bergamo is famous for its wealth of artistic treasures and enchanting medieval atmosphere. It is a real life tale of two cities: “Città Bassa”, the busy and modern lower city, and "Città Alta", the upper city with its rich heritage of art and history.

Get in

By plane

Bergamo is the location of the Orio al Serio International Airport [2] (IATA: BGY) (Phone number: +39035326323), an airport oriented around low-cost airlines (Discount_airlines_in_Europe). ATB no.1 bus to the city are €2.10 per trip, €5.00 for 24h ticket and €7.00 for a 3 days ticket. There is a ticket machine at the bus stop or you can buy the tickets at Tourist Information Point office [3]. You can find schedules and route maps on the site of ATB [4] the local mass transit authority.

Cabs will take about 15 min but are quite expensive given the length of the journey - cost around €15 (€21 after 21:00 in the evening).

Note that buses can be both unreliable and not punctual. You'd better take the no.1 city bus 30 or 45 minutes before the time you actually have to be at the airport.

By train

Milan is about 50 minutes away by train. There is no train station at the airport in Bergamo. The 1-airport bus to Bergamo city, taking around 20 minutes, leaves you just in front of the train station. From Bergamo city regular trains to Milan, Lecco and Brescia, on to Verona and Venice. You can check schedules and fares on the website of the Italian Railways [5]. There is no left luggage office at the train station but you can leave your bags just 50 metres outside in the automatic left luggage behind URBAN CENTER and behind McDonald's [6]. Alternatively, you can leave them in the airport, but it's rather slow and works just in the daytime. If you are at the airport and your destination is Milan or Venice, just take one of the regular coaches. However be warned that the autostrada connecting Bergamo and Milan carries a lot of trucks and gets easily congested - do not therefore rely on the 'stated' journey time especially on weekdays. An alternative is to take the bus into Bergamo (see above) and take the train.

By bus

Regular buses to Milan. You can check schedules and fares on the website of Autostradale [7]. The trip takes approximately one hour, depending on traffic conditions. The bus stop in Bergamo is located near the train station and there is a counter where inquiries can be made. Here you can found a very interesting service: a Mini Electric car and Electric Bicycle rental that permit to visit the upper town without limitation of traffic circulation and pollution rules. Renting a car is possible for just €5 per hour or €39 a day.(http://www.eco-rent.it)

Get around

The town is not large, and most of the sights can be seen comfortably on foot. To get from the Città Bassa up to the Città Alta can be quite tiring on foot, though, due to the steep and winding streets, but there is a funicolare (or cable railway) linking the two parts of the town. You can see a map of bus routes, schedules and fares on the website of the local mass transit authority [8] (in Italian). The ticket that you purchase for the funicular is valid for 75 minutes and you can reuse the same ticket for travel on the network, including the funicular to San Vigilio. Walking from the train station to the Città Alta funicular station is pleasant and takes about 20-30 minutes. You can also walk from Città Alta to San Vigilio instead of taking the funicular, which will afford you great views of the surrounding areas, as well as the quaint narrow streets and houses along the way.

See

  • The Piazza Vecchia - the heart of the old town, displaying a mix of medieval and Renaissance architecture. Piazza Vecchia is the genuine heart of the city. Its beauty and the balanced proportion of volumes and lines that make it unforgettable are not the result of the genius of some architect, but are due to its shaping by generations of Bergamask people, in a succession of art and history. Your eye is immediately drawn to the beautiful white marble Contarini fountain in the centre, and the alignment of the buildings along the two sides directs your sight towards Palazzo della Ragione (Palace of Reason) at the end of the square. The facade of this twelfth century building is dominated by the symbolic lion of Venice, a reminder of the centuries of historic, cultural and economic relations between the two cities. Standing tall in a corner is the Civic Tower, known also as the “Campanone”, or big bell, a landmark infused with civic meaning, as demonstrated by the 180 times the large bell tolls each evening to mark the ancient curfew. This square was the seat of political and administrative power until the nineteenth century, and is overlooked by Palazzo del Podestà, the residence of Venetian rulers, and the Town Hall, which can be identified by its impressive marble façade and which today houses the Civic Library.
  • The church of Santa Maria Maggiore
  • The Colleoni Chapel (Cappella Colleoni)
  • The Rocca - a walled stronghold which houses a museum
  • The Archeology Museum (Museo Archeologico)
  • The Science Museum (Museo Civico di Scienze)
  • The Donizetti Museum (Museo Donizettiano), Via Arena 9. Devoted to one of Bergamo's most famous sons, the composer Gaetano Donizetti
  • The Accademia Carrara [9], one of Northern Italy's most important collections of medieval, Renaissance and Baroque paintings.
  • GAMeC [10], the city's gallery of modern and contemporary art, which usually hosts several interesting exhibitions.

Do

  • Ride the funicolare from the Città Bassa up to the Città Alta. Easier than walking, and the views on the way up are spectacular.
  • Visit San Vigilio - a small hilltop village that can be reached on foot or by a second funicolare from Città Alta. It offers walks with spectacular views, and a ruined castle. Entry into the castle is free, and is part of a public park. Climb all the way to the top of the castle for more views.
  • Walk down the quiet narrow streets of the old town.
  • Walk along the city walls for views across Lombardy.
  • Visit one of the several churches and art galleries.
  • Stroll in one of the pedestrian streets and enjoy shops and cafes.
  • Ride a mountain bike in the beautiful "Parco dei Colli" just behind the old town. You will feel as you are riding in the mountains.

Eat

For snacks, a drink or simply the great view, Cafe Funicolare in the city Alta Funicolare station. For lunch or an evening meal try Da Franco Ristorante Pizzeria (Via Colleoni 8 Bergamo Alta, Tel: 035238565 - closed Mondays) or Da Mimmo [11] - closed Tuesdays - both more than just a pizzeria.

Also worth a look is Il Sole, on the corner of Piazza Vecchia and Via Colleoni.

La Bruschetta, in the Citta Bassa, just off Porta Nuova is a good value restaurant/pizzeria in the cellar of a building and worth a mention.

Also in the Citta Bassa area La Ciotola is a good restaurant/pizzeria near the Mercure hotel.

For great ice cream try La Siesta [12] on Via Sant'Alessandro.

  • Giopi e Margi, Via Borgo Palazzo (in the residential area just a short walk from city center), [13]. Traditional restaurant serving lomabrdy cuisine is worth a visit if you fancy having an Italian meal not just pizza and pasta. Family run business is a well kept secret between locals.


Drink

  • Il Circolino, (right around the back of the Biblioteca Angelo Maj). Locals here play bocce and drink lanterna (a huge drink made of white wine and campari rosso).
  • Bobino, piazza della Liberta. 7.00am - 02.00am daily, except Sundays. is a cool bar/restaurant with a long wine & cocktail list (including Champagne).
  • Ristoranti dei Mille... saporti, [14]. A selection of restaurants by the local Chamber of commerce offering a typical menu. Refer to the site to know dishes and prices.


Sleep

Città Alta (Old Town)

  • Bergamo Charme B&B's, [15]. A selection of B&B's in historical homes in Bergamo and its province. The quality mark is awarded by the Bergamo Chamber of commerce.

Città Bassa (New Town)

There are a number of good hotels in Citta Bassa - many on Viale Papa Giovanni XXIII (The main street from the station to the funicolare).


  • B&B Romeo and Juliet, Via Zambonate 47 (in the centre of town), 00393343841994, [16]. checkin: noon; checkout: 11AM. Bed & Breakfast and residence with confortable double rooms or apartments for 2-4 people.
  • B&B Fragolino, Via Bartolomeo Bono 25 (near town center and main station), 0039-3349038874, [17]. checkin: flexible. B&B/Hostel with great atmosphere, modern and comfortable rooms, courtyard, WiFi, flat screen and Playstation.
  • Mercure Palazzo Dolci.
  • Best Western Capello d'Oro.
  • Mercure Palazzo Dolci.
  • Excelsior San Marco Hotel. Great location offering a beautiful view of the Citta Alta from the breakfast terrace. Not exactly new, yet tons of character. Comfortable rooms, very clean, Wifi, flatscreen and a wide range of services. Great for business travel.
  • Hotel Jolly, Via G. Paleocapa.
  • Hotel Donizetti, Aldo Moro 28, Lallio. Donizetti Hotel is located near Bergamo, and access to the motorway linking Milan and surroundings
  • NH Bergamo, Via Paleocapa 1/G, +39 035 2271811, [18]. Located in the modern area of the city, this hotel prides itself on its top quality services. The rooms are very modern yet comfortable with wifi and family rooms also available. From 90€.

Stezzano

Stezzano is a commune 8 km south of Bergamo. It is very easily reached both by train and by bus. The train takes approximately five minutes and Milan is also easily reachable.

  • Art e Hotel, Via Santuario 43, Stezzano (opposite the train station of Stezzano), 00390354379300, [19]. checkin: noon; checkout: 11AM. Beautiful four star hotel at a price much lower than in the city centre. Modern rooms, television, mini-bar, leisure centre, spacious bathrooms
  • Grand Hotel del Parco, Via Galeno 8, Stezzano (close to Piazza Liberta' in Stezzano), 0039035591710, [20]. checkin: noon; checkout: 11AM. Another quality four star hotel with prices lower than city accommodation. Good decor, well equipped rooms.

Get out

Other places of interest around Bergamo

  • The Bergamo area is in the foothills of the Alps, and has a handful of Ski resorts within a one-hour drive. Notable is the Brembana Valley which contains the resorts of Foppolo, Carona and San Simone.
  • Lake Iseo, one of the smallest and less touristy among the Northern Italian lakes. Go by bus from the Bergamo bus station (opposite the train station) to Tavernola [21]. Then take a ferry to Montisola [22].
  • Crespi d'Adda [23] is a planned industrial village between Bergamo and Milan. It has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List
  • Como (one of the main cities at the shores of beautiful Lake Como is also accessible by train, but requires almost travelling back to Milan (you change at Monza). It is worth visiting from Bergamo and vice versa. The journey takes between one and a half and two hours.
  • Stezzano At only 6 km from Bergamo, it is perfect for those who may want to visit Bergamo but stay in a more rural and peaceful setting. The town is well-equipped with nice cafes, two pizzerie, shops, two gelaterie and a bank.



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