Bergamo is a city with hidden treasures, located East of Milan. It is a must visit for Italian culture, exquisite architecture and of course incredible food. Here are my top must-see sights and places to visit when passing through the city.
1. Ride The Funicular
Bergamo has offered two funiculars in the city for the past 120 years; one connecting Citta Bassa with Citta Alta and the other connecting Citta Alta to the San Vigilio hill. The views from the carriage window are spectacular, which ever route you wish to take. It is a fantastic alternative to taking the bus through the city and gets you from A to B in under 5 minutes.They run every 15-20 minutes from 7am through to midnight and you can use your city bus ticket on this mode of transport or alternatively purchase a return at one of the machines.
2.Witness The Views From Castello Di San Vigilio
The Fernicular up to San Vigilio may host spectacular views but wait until you reach the top. Castello Di San Vigilio is the main attraction upon the hill and offers 360 degree views over the whole of Citta Alta and beyond. With a multitude of viewing platforms within the castle walls, it is a trip not to miss. Stroll through the castle grounds, climb the winding staircase and enjoy a rest under the huge trees at the top whilst taking in the sights.
3. Visit The Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica
Located a few steps from Piazza Vecchia stands the Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica. The architecture itself is breathtaking; red and white marble decorate the steps, geometric patterns paint the facade and it’s intricate features give the basilica character. Inside, the beauty is replicated with ornate tapestries and gold paintings that will have you in awe. This church is well worth a visit!
4. Visit The 4 Portos
Citta Alta and Citta Bassa are separated by large Venetian walls that date back to the late 16th century. Within these walls lie 4 ‘portas’ aka doors that allow access to and from the upper town. Porta San Lorenzo is at the North of the upper city, Porta San Augustino is in the East, Porta San Giocamo is in the South and Porta San Alessandro is in the West. Each porta has character, many of which allow large modes of transport to pass through throughout the day. To keep up with tradition and mark an ancient curfew, at 10pm every night, the large bell tower, known as Campanone, in Piazza Vecchia chimes 100 times to remind residents of Citta Alta to return within the city walls or risk being locked out. Although the gates are no longer closed at night, the tradition lives on and is wonderful to hear of a nighttime. Come night or day, take a stroll from one porta to the next, following the city walls as it circles back around.
5.Visit The Natural History Museum
If, like me, you are a lover of bad taxidermy, then the Natural History Museum in Citta Alta is the place to go. Split across 3 floors, they have an impressive collection of geological matter, fossils and of course stuffed animals. The signage and information is all written in Italian which could prove difficult for those who wish to learn in depth about each collection. Nonetheless, the artefacts speak for themselves and a visit is a great way to spend a rainy afternoon for just €3.
6. A Trip To Lake Como
Despite falling in love with Bergamo, the main reason for visiting the City was to have easy access to the lakes. Lake Como is accessible by train in under 1 hour when travelling to the town of Lecco for just €3.60 one way. At the base of the river, this bustling town is home to a quaint Lido di Malgrate located not far from the train station which offers a manmade beach and a grassy area in which to sunbathe. The area itself doesn’t get busy until the early afternoon meaning a mid-morning swim is the best time to visit. Take a dip in the warm water and stop for a spot of lunch at the Pizzeria overlooking the water.
8.Swim In Lake Iseo
Having visited a Lido at Lake Como, we had our eye on another at Lake Iseo. Lago D’Iseo is a smaller and less visited by tourists which made it much more appealing. For just €3.80 one way on the bus, in under an hour we made the trip to Sarnico, a small town on the west side of the lake. The bus itself stopped outside of our destination; Lido Nettuno. The location housed a cafe, children’s play area as well as a jetty with accessible steps into the water. Clean, clear and brimming with tiny fish, you cannot help but pinch yourself at the sheer beauty of the mountainous surroundings.
These were my top things to do in Bergamo, what were yours?
Check out a video of our trip to Bergamo here!
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