Thinking about visiting Bergamo in Italy? Here’s what you need to know!
Location: Lombard, Italy (40 km northeast of Milan)
Short History: The Celts (people from central Europe) founded Bergamo 2000 years ago. It’s UNESCO listed on the World Heritage List as an important historical town of Italy. It’s full of historical buildings, the Citadel (fort), Saint Maria church and library being only a few of them.
City Guide – Visiting Bergamo, Italy
The city of Bergamo truly is a little hidden gem in northern Italy, about an hour away from Milan. While it often gets overlooked given its close proximity to Milan, Bergamo Italy will enthral you with its gorgeous cobbled laned, euphoric weather and historic atmosphere!
Better yet, this beautiful Italian city is also fondly referred to as the city of art, and it certainly is beautiful in a rare and unique way.
Now in all transparency, the only reason we knew about the place and thought of visiting Bergamo was that it was the closest city from where our flight was leaving. So, it seemed like the convenient choice at the time!
We had actually first planned to stay in Milan, but since none of us really wanted to go there – we googled visiting Bergamo instead. Some lad called ‘Irish Tony’ convinced us right away – and we are so happy we listened to his advice! We ended up embarking on one of our best travel experiences, but more on that later…
Bergamo is divided into two parts – an old part, Cítta Alta (upper town), and a new more modern part, Cittá Bassa lower town. The old part of town is really something extra and should be your main destination. So, make sure to give yourself adequate time to explore all that it has to offer.
When you step out of the little ‘funicular’ that takes you up the hill from the newer part of town, it straight-away feels like you’ve traveled back in time.
Bergamo has a long history that dates back about 2000 years. It used to belong to the Venetians, so the architecture is very similar to what you can find in Venice.
We were immediately enchanted by the medieval character of this city.
The best way to enjoy Bergamo is to simply walk along the street. The old town is pretty small, so you will probably see everything by just walking around.
It looks old but very well preserved. It’s a cosy feeling strolling around on the winding, narrow cobbled stoned streets, looking into little chocolate and cheese boutiques, wineries and cafés selling their own specialties.
All shops and restaurants blend in well with the houses. They really look like they have been there since forever, and many of them almost have. In restaurants they have old photos showing the same restaurant in the 40’s and older.
The city is set on a hill with a great view over the newer part of Bergamo (Citta Bassa), and (on a clear day, which we never had) a view of the alps.
Food in Bergamo
The food prices in Bergamo are pretty much the same in all restaurants. Margheritas are about 4 euro, and pizzas with more stuff on it about 8. But it is so worth it. I never thought I would ever think a pizza tasted fresh, let alone healthy..!
What wasn’t a huge success to me were the cakes… In every café window you see these yellow little Polenta cakes in all sizes. They look delicious, but as most cakes and chocolates in Italy it looks better than it tastes.
Talking about that, one thing here that does look better on the inside than outside are their cathedrals.
I’ve never seen so many incredible churches all squeezed into such a small place. Usually a city tends to have one nice church and a bunch of boring looking ones. In Bergamo, every church we went into was an overabundance and extravagance of gold, beautiful really old paintings and architecture that would make anyone become religious.
If you are to visit only one cathedral, let it be Il Dumo and colleoni’s chapel at the Old Square in the old town.
This is an urban church and inside you will find the architectural marks of the different periods that came one after the other since the time of the construction.
They started already in 600 BC building a small one, and from then they built more and more and the church grew larger and larger.
You can join a walking tour of Bergamo to discover the Upper Town of Bergamo and its hidden cultural and architectural heritage. Book here.
This is the old square, in the heart of Citta Alta (the old town). Here you’ll find the 400 year old library Biblioteca Civica, the 12th-century Venetian Gothic Palazzo della Ragione (Court of Justice) and the 12th-century Torre Civica (Civic Tower).
If you walk up the 230 steps to the top of the 54m tower you’ll get a 360-degree view of Bergamo. The 15th-century bell rings 180 times at 10pm each night to commemorate the town’s medieval curfew.
Getting around Bergama
It’s quite pleasant getting around by foot, walking from the train station to the funicular takes about 15-20 minutes.
Otherwise bus number 1 goes from the train station to the funicular that takes you up to Cítta Alta (the old town). The funicular connects Citta Bassa with Cítta Alta.
You can get a day pass where you can travel with all buses and the funicular as much as you like for a whole day (24h from the time you purchase it). The price isn’t much more than a one way ticket, so it’s most likely the best deal.
You can also buy a range of other tickets, such as 3-day passes or 1 day passes including airport bus.
You can buy these tickets at the Bergamo airport ticket office, the bus station and from ticket machines.
How to get to Bergama
There is an airport like ten minutes away from the city called Milan Bergamo Airport.
From the airport you take a 15 minute bus ride (bus number 1C) to the train station in the center of the new town of Bergamo. The ticket is valid for 90 minutes so you can use the same ticket to catch another bus to the Cítta Alta funicular that takes you up to the old town.
You can also take a train or bus from Milan, it takes about an hour to get there.
Where to stay in Bergamo
I really recommend ‘B&B al vicolo’. We stayed there ourselves and it’s a great place. It’s like a big apartment with three bedrooms (one with a double bed and the other two with several beds).
Two very nice and clean bathrooms upstairs and a dining area and TV lounge downstairs. Plus you get a big good yummy breakfast!
B&B al vicolo
- Vicolo Sant’ Andrea, 2a – Bergamo – Italia
- Mobile: +39 338 3848911
- It costs about 40 Euro for a double room.
Things to do in Bergamo Italy
Visit the Tempietto di Santa Croce
This is by far one of the best-kept secrets of this incredible city as you will instantly be amazed by all of the stone structures and the history of this place – we definitely were! It is an 11th-century chapel that you could easily miss, so place close attention when walking through.
Once you head inside you will be welcomed by a vast selection of murals. All of which even date back all the way to the Middle Ages! Just note that it is only open at selected times throughout the year. That being said, just standing outside of it is magical enough.
Have dinner at Il Cicolino
This one may come as surprise because this location is actually a former prison but that adds to all of its unique charm and thrill. If you meander through the pedestrian path you will notice a vintage wooden door – walk through it for the ultimate Italian dining experience.
You will be served authentic Italian cuisine whilst the music from the streets waltz in behind you. There are also plenty of decadent wines for you to enjoy and an impressive dessert emu too!
Visit the Museo Donizettiano
You can’t come to this part of Italy and not have a cultural experience too, which is why this amazing museum is making its debut on this list! This specific museum dates back all the way to 1906 and it is a collection of works that celebrate the famous Italian composer Donizetti.
The interiors of this building are immaculate with the sheer amount of art that it houses. From paintings to frescoes and courtyards, you are in for the experience of a lifetime – even if you aren’t very into art, it’s definitely worth visiting!
Visit the Torre Civica
This is actually the local bell tower, and it offers you the most gorgeous panoramic views of the city as well as the entire Piazza Vecchia (which is located in the middle of the Old Town). This is the area’s tallest tower, and it towers at about 52 meters.
Take a locally guided tour through Bergamo Italy
If you are looking for a more holistic approach to your travel adventures through Bergamo Italy, then I highly suggest doing things on a more local level and taking one of the many guided tours that the city has to offer!
While with a guided tour you will have less freedom to do your own thing, this is your best way to see as much as possible in a shorter amount of time. You can also choose between doing the more food-based tours or historical site seeing – the choice is all yours!
We highly suggest this private walking tour which includes discovering the charming old streets on Bergamo and many of the top attractions including Piazza Vecchia, Palazzo del Podestà, Palazzo della Ragione, the Civic Library, and the Cathedral.
Now, all that’s left for you to do is begin your journey visiting Bergamo Italy – the city that will make you fall in love in a matter of seconds!