“Non si può più toccare neppure una pietra, sarebbe un delitto.”
In English, it is “Not even a stone can be touched, it would be a crime.” This is what the famous swiss architect Le Corbusier stated after coming to Bergamo and visiting “Città Alta”, the historical part of the city that sits upon a hill. My hometown, Bergamo, has been severely affected by this COVID-19 global pandemic from multiple points of view, but I will not focus on this. Instead, I would like to focus on some reasons why you should pay a visit to this amazing city, when this is all over of course, and support its tourism’s recovery.
So, here’s your “to-do list” when in Bergamo, to add to your personal Travel Wishlist.
Get tired by walking down the city
Bergamo is divided into two parts, as many of you may know. The best way to get into its historical heritage and its fascinating, romantic atmosphere is to go around on foot. In the lower part of the city, you should definitely go to Porta Nuova and place yourself in front of the upper part of the city: the view is amazing. Walk through the Sentierone, where you will find the Donizetti Theatre. I also suggest you walk down the beautiful streets via Tasso, via Pignolo, and via San Tomaso, until you reach Piazza Carrara, where you will find Accademia Carrara and GAMEC, two art museums where several events take place. Just opposite the Sentierone, you will find via XX Settembre and via Sant’Orsola, which are amazing streets for doing some shopping; here you will also find a church dedicated to Saint Lucia, where all kids leave their letters at the beginning of December asking for presents to the Saint. To reach the upper part of the city, I suggest you use the stairs and reach Porta Sant Giacomo: from there, the view is amazing. You just need to walk through the medieval streets and look around to feel the history. The most famous spots to visit are for sure the fortress, the main square Piazza Vecchia and the Duomo square, where you will find the Dome and the amazing Basilica. To end your visit, reach Colle Aperto and walk down the Venetian walls until Porta Sant’Agostino: I suggest you do this at sunset, it’s very romantic.
Food coma from local delicacies
Bergamo’s traditional food and wine are by themselves worth the visit. My favorite dish, which I strongly suggest you try, is casoncelli. Also, you should try the real polenta, which can be eaten together with meat, ragout, mushrooms, or in the taragna version, with cheese inside (my favorite). In Bergamo, you will also find really good meat and cheese. Did you know that Bergamo is recognized by Unesco for its cheese production? And if you want some dessert, we also have a good variety. I suggest you try Polenta e Osei, a sugary version of polenta, and the Donizetti cake, especially with tea in the afternoon in autumn and wintertime.
Try the real Stracciatella ice cream
During summer, you should try the real stracciatella ice cream where it was created for the first time, at La Marianna, in the upper part of the city. You can reach it on foot or in line 1 of the bus (final stop – Colle Aperto).
Taste local wine
Local production of wine is recognized all around the world – and I bet you’ll understand why as you try our wines. I recommend you visit wine cellars and explore the fascinating countryside: here you will taste Valcalepio at its best. But, especially, I strongly recommend you taste Moscato Di Scanzo, a high-quality DOCG meditation wine that is only produced in a very small and suggestive area, only 15 minutes by car from Bergamo.
And, in case these are not enough, we also have:
Relax in San Pellegrino
San Pellegrino is a really nice spot in the middle of Orobic Prealps, where the famous S. Pellegrino water is produced. Walking down the main street you will find examples of liberty architecture, in particular, the Grand Hotel and the Casinò. Recently, QC Terme opened a stunning wellness center and spa inside the famous Casinò: enjoy the relaxation of having a sauna surrounded by amazing mountains and then having an aperitivo under the magnificent ceilings of the Casinò.
(personal hint: my favorite is the Chinotto steam bath!)
Take sailing lessons on Iseo lake
In Bergamo we also have lakes. Amongst the most important we have Iseo lake, which divides Bergamo from Brescia and is famous for hosting Montisola, one of the biggest lake islands in Europe. The lake itself is a really nice spot to spend a Sunday afternoon, but you can also enjoy a lot of sports activities there, such as sailing, windsurfing, and wakeboarding.
Not everyone knows this, but in Bergamo, we have waterfalls too! And they are actually the highest in Italy, with their 315 meters. You can find them in Valbondione, a small country located towards the end of Val Seriana and they are open 5 days a year. They are really fascinating, but I suggest you explore the entire area, as you will find many small waterfalls and other hidden gems.
Did you know that Bergamo was such a special city? I hope my suggestions convinced you to add my amazing hometown to your personal travel wishlist for a weekend escape that you will never forget!