Bergamo Travel Guide
Nestled against the Alps, Bergamo is much more than a mountain destination. While you could play in the hills beyond city limits, it has tonnes of cultural and historical attractions. In fact, after you’ve finished touring its churches, museums, and its city wall, you might not have time for a hike.
Begin your tour of Bergamo by visiting the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. This important church has been around since the 12th century. However, it sits on the ruins of an earlier church, which succeeded a Roman temple.
While Romanesque on the outside, Santa Maria Maggiore will surprise you with its Baroque interior. In particular, its tapestries and frescoes will dazzle those who aren’t used to the brilliance of Italian churches. Just one thing, though – as you look around, be respectful to local parishioners.
But as amazing as that Basilica is, the Bergamo Cathedral is just as impressive. Local religious authorities constructed it in the 15th century, and for a short time, there were two cathedrals in Bergamo.
However, this over-representation ended, as they demolished the cathedral dedicated to St. Alexander. Bergamo Cathedral, which was dedicated to St. Vincent, shifted to St. Alexander, a designation that remains to this day. Its neoclassical facade set it apart from many older Italian churches. Meanwhile, the inside boasts a wide array of lavish furnishings and art pieces.
Art lovers will want to drop by the Accademia Carrara during their time in Bergamo. The gallery takes its name from Giacomo Carrara, its founder, who opened this destination in the late 18th century. Within, this museum’s fine collection includes masterpieces from Renaissance artists like Raphael and Botticelli.
Lastly, before leaving Bergamo, be sure to walk along the Mura Venete. This attraction is Bergamo’s city wall, which dates back to the times of the Venetians. Despite its extensive series of ramparts and sentry boxes, this fortification did not see action over its life.
In the evening hours, the light is perfect and the views are fantastic. So, if you are an avid photographer, be sure to walk this wall during your visit.
Pay your respects to one of the Venetian Empire’s most important figures at Cappella Colleoni. This building serves as a chapel, but more importantly, as a mausoleum for Bartolomeo Colleoni. More than 500 years ago, Bartolomeo served as the commander of Venice’s armed forces.
But today, his bones lay within this magnificent resting place. Its intricate exterior is a treat to photograph, and within, its magnificent altars will attract attention. Of course, the funerary monument itself is a sight to see.
Travelling as a family, or is the weather not cooperating? Duck into the Museo Civico Scienze Naturali Enrico Caffi for a few hours. Since 1918, this museum has catalogued the natural history of the Bergamo region.
Within its galleries, you’ll find exhibits on local wildlife, fossils from the age of the dinosaurs, models of extinct animals, and much more. Afterwards, linger in the on-site cafe as the kids run around. Admission is just 3 EUR for adults, while children are free.
Get some of the best views of Bergamo from the top of Campanone o Torre Civica. The Suardi family, one of the most powerful in the city, built this tower back in the 12th century. After a few hundred years of passing from generation to generation, the city claimed it, Soon after, it became a bell tower.
Today, it is popular with tourists looking for an amazing view. Here, you’ll enjoy excellent sightlines over both the upper and lower cities – don’t forget your camera!
Before leaving Bergamo, spend an evening in La Città Alta. As good as the lower city is, the upper city is home to Bergamo’s best architecture. Within its old building stock, you’ll find exclusive boutiques, as well as lively restaurants and bars.
What To Eat
After a hectic day of sightseeing, head to a tavern and enjoy some Taleggio with a glass of Bergamo wine. Though strong in aroma, this cow cheese actually has a mild flavour. As you nibble away at this rose/orangish wedge, you’ll taste notes of fruit.
At lunch or dinner, find a restaurant that serves Polenta Taragna. This version of polenta gets its name from the wooden utensil traditionally used to stir this dish. Made from a mix of cornmeal and buckwheat, cooks add butter & cheese just before serving it. This creates a taste you definitely won’t want to miss.
For dessert, get a scoop of two of Stracciatella. This dish is a gelato that mixes chocolate pieces into its body. This simple variation takes an already iconic Italian dessert and elevates it to the next level. So, be sure to give it a try.