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Bergamo is a beautiful medieval hilltop town, easily accessed from Milan and the A3. It’s often overlooked – but it’s worth a stop. Great food, friendly people, lovely vistas. Major food culture and reportedly excellent restaurants.

We stayed for a day & night, which was about the right amount of time. I’d happily go back. The Città Alta (upper city) is the highlight – Città Bassa (lower city) is a fairly typical modern Italian city. Alta has cobbled streets and narrow alleys, cute piazzas, an abundance of restaurants & bars. Connecting Bassa and Alta is a 19th-century funicular; there’s a second funicular from Alta to the upper-upper town.

Sites:

  • Behind Bergamo Alta’s central Piazza Vecchia are three major churches – the Duomo, Colleoni Chapel and Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore. They’re overdone in their own special ways, very much worth visiting. 
  • **San Vigilio Funicular is the “upper-upper” funicular – very worthwhile for the view, and potential hotel/dining stays. 
  • **Accademia Carrara is a manageable art museum – some 2,000 works dating from the 15th to the 18th centuries reside in this heavy-hitting provincial museum, with religious and Renaissance masterpieces by the likes of Mantegna, Lorenzo Lotto, Giovanni Bellini, Raphael, Titian and Botticelli. It takes about an hour, isn’t particularly crowded, not much in famous works, but everything is of high quality.

Food and Lodging:

  • **Gombit Hotel: a contemporary standout on a central-yet-quiet Città Alta cobbled side street. It’s quite hipster in the lobby, rooms are the best Ikea has to offer (in a tasteful way). We liked it, perfect location, value for the money, friendly staff. Has parking (call ahead).
  • At the top of the upper funicular is the five-star Relais San Lorenzo: set around a sprawling Roman ruin, the hotel is minimalist and private. Looks very high end. 
  • Also on top of the upper funicular, Ristorante San Vigilio is quite cute. Nearby Pizzeria San Vigilio has an incredible view and would be my pick for where to eat next.
  • The *Roof Garden Restaurant is an expensive “occasion” restaurant, full of people celebrating special events or networking. It was too corporate for us, and the food was pretty mediocre. Views are very good of the Citta Alta.
  • In the central square of the upper town, **Al Donizetti is a popular cocktail spot. **Trattoria Sant’ Ambroeus was a perfectly nice lunch spot, good people watching.

Articles:

https://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/travel/2021/02/a-city-guide-to-bergamo-italy

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