If you want to see the real provincial Italy with its narrow streets, cheap pizza and delicious wine, Bergamo is the right place for it. A small town located 45 km from Milan – the exact opposite of the noisy and business capital of fashion. When I was planning my trip to Italy, the main criteria for choosing a city for a vacation were the remoteness from the airport, the local coloring, prices for accommodation and products and a small number of tourists. I chose Bergamo – and I was not mistaken. Bergamo Alta (Upper Town) and Bergamo Basso (Lower Town) are separated by a wall and connected by a cable car.
The Upper Town is the first to be visited as it is older and retains several centuries of history but the Lower Town is also worth a visit with its beautiful old churches.
How to get there
You can get to Bergamo either by car or by plane, but perhaps the second way is much more convenient. The airport of Orio-al Serio (BGY) is 3 km from the city – there you also need to get there. From Moscow, the best way to get there is to fly with Pobeda airlines – the only direct flights are available (travel time is about 3.5 hours). Aeroflot, S7 and others have only long layovers in Munich and Istanbul.
As I have already written, from Moscow it is more convenient to travel by plane, but my plan was not to visit just one country, but to have a good trip around Europe. The airport Orio-al Serio (BGY) is good as it is located in 40 minutes from Milan, and is the arrival point of all European low-cost airlines. For those who do not know, we are talking about low-cost airlines, specializing in low-cost passenger transportation. In Europe this option of travel is very popular – in the selling season ticket prices drop to 5 EUR (330 RUB). You can compare different offers here. These planes have no business class and luggage is charged separately, so you should take this into account when choosing an airline. This is convenient for travels in Schengen countries. For example, I took a train to Lithuania for 2200 rubles and from there I flew to Bergamo for 23 EUR (1518 RUB).
How to get there from the airport
Easy way to the city center from the airport – after getting out of the arrival area there is a bus stop with schedule and ticket office, where you can buy a ticket for your destination. The travel time to the center of Bergamo is about 15-20 minutes. On the map, the number 1 indicates the point “Airport”, the number 2 – the railway station, the center.
Unfortunately, direct train from Russia to Bergamo is not possible, only with connections, and the cost of such a trip will be several times higher, so you need to use other modes of transport.
Of course, you can also get to Bergamo by car, but you should keep in mind that in the territory of the European Union only international rights are valid. This option has its own advantages and disadvantages. Firstly, you have to drive 29 hours without stopping. Of course, it is clear that not a single person can endure so much. Therefore, you will have to stay in hotels to sleep and rest. This causes additional costs, so usually by car such long distances are more convenient to travel by company, in which at least two drivers with international rights can periodically replace each other.
The expenses in that case are divided among 4-5 people, which is also convenient. As for the pluses of traveling by car in Europe, they are obvious. You don’t have to spend money for public transport which is not cheap (a bus around the city costs at least 2.5 EUR (165 RUR), you can get to the airport for 5 EUR (330 RUR) per person). By car you can easily visit all the attractions, go to the supermarket and thus save a lot.
When the season. When it’s the best time to go
Of course Italy is beautiful in any season! I went in May. And I did not regret that I chose this month. The weather was at +20 ° C, which is very comfortable. It rained only one day out of two weeks. The rest of the time the sun was shining, birds were singing and it smelled like spring! In winter it is also much warmer than in Russia, which means that it is a great option for celebrating New Year or Christmas.
Bergamo in summer
Of course, it’s much more comfortable to travel in summer – you don’t need to bring a lot of extra things, and walking in warm weather is much more comfortable. And what else do you need on vacation, if not a walk? In July the air warms up to +26 ° C, which I think is ideal.
Bergamo in spring and fall
Spring and early fall are probably the perfect time to enjoy this city. There is no sweltering heat, freezing wind, and cold. In March and April, Bergamo blooms and smells, and the photos are beautiful. In September, the velvet season, there are fewer tourists and it’s easier to breathe. In October and November, the entire city is covered in a golden veil of fallen leaves.
Bergamo in winter.
I haven’t been here in the winter, but the average temperatures, judging from past forecasts, range from -2 to 12°C. In any case, it is much warmer than in Russia. As in all of Europe, this small town is very nicely decorated for Christmas. So to celebrate the New Year here is a special reason to visit Bergamo. In addition, if you go by car, it will be much warmer to travel around the area.
Bergamo – weather by month
Neighborhoods. Where to live
As I wrote above, Bergamo is divided into two main neighborhoods – Upper and Lower. Each of them is good in its own way. Depending on what you want to get out of your vacation, and you need to choose a place to stay
- Upper district – I, like most tourists, stayed in the Upper part of the city, where the main attractions are located.
- Lower District – Suitable for those who want to get away from the hustle and bustle and enjoy a quiet and relaxing time. It’s also handy if you’re staying in Bergamo for a couple of days and are planning your next trip to Milan
On this hotel map, number 1 indicates the Upper Historic District, number 2 the Lower Modern District. As for accommodation prices, I’ll write about that a bit below.
What are the prices of holidays
Bergamo is a provincial non-touristy city, so prices here are not excessive. Relative to other European countries, such as France or Germany, Italy is considered inexpensive.
Prices for housing
The entire text in large letters at once. You can rent accommodation on Booking.com and other sites. But my main purpose of the trip was to feel the flavor, to communicate with locals and penetrate their culture. So I rented a room in a large three-room apartment in the city center with a spacious kitchen and a library full of books in Italian. A day’s stay cost about 45 EUR (3,000 RUB), from this amount also start the prices for hotels in the city. But I always prefer to live in apartments with locals – it’s much more interesting, you can learn their life from the inside. In addition, I had a kitchen at my disposal, which is a great way to save money on food. To rent apartments, rooms and houses, you can for example, here. Travel within the city is 2.5 EUR (165 RUB). To Bergamo Airport – 3-5 EUR (198-330 RUB).
|Meal (lunch/dinner) at inexpensive restaurant||902 rubles|
|Lunch/dinner for two, 3 courses, middle class restaurant||3005 rubles|
|McMeal at McDonald’s or similar combo-dinner||481 rubles|
Main attractions. What to see
The main sights of Bergamo are in the upper part of the city, so if you’re staying in the lower part, you need to take the cable car up. The ticket costs 2.3 EUR (151 RUB) per person.
- The main attraction of the city is Piazza Vecchi . It’s a beautiful ensemble of old and new town halls, a tower, and a beautiful fountain in the center. Nearby there are many cafes and restaurants for all tastes and pockets.
As I wrote above, Bergamo is famous for its churches. For me personally I was struck by Capella Colleoni. Externally it is made in the style of the Middle Ages, as if a toy, but when you get inside, the breath is taken away by the rich decoration. The walls are decorated with stucco in Baroque style, the vaulted ceilings are literally covered with gold and frescoes.
Not far from the chapel is Bergamo’s main cathedral. Once you’re in the area, it’s impossible not to visit. The church is active and very beautiful. It has a magical attraction, feeling peaceful and beautiful. The only drawback is the entrance fee. The ticket price is 3 EUR, but it is really worth it.
Traveling through the Lower part of the city, you should definitely visit the Donizetti Opera House – it is located in a majestic beautiful building in the classicist style. It can be compared to La Scala in Milan, and for the better. For opera lovers, it is a must-see.
Churches and temples. Worth a visit
Churches are the hallmark of the city. About the most interesting and visited I have already written above.
Museums. Worth visiting
Unlike neighboring tourist cities, in Bergamo you can enjoy art without queues and crowds of people. One of the best museums in the city is the Accademia Carrara, an art gallery. The museum contains ancient works of Italian artists and sculptors. Presented are paintings of famous in art circles of Tiepolo and Tintoretto. The museum is small, only two floors, but I really liked it. There were only two or three people in the whole building besides me, so you could spend enough time near each piece to see and appreciate everything. You can use the audioguide service, but it is only in English and Italian, so I decided to just contemplate the beauty. The cost of admission ticket is 8 EUR (528 RUB).
In addition to the art academy in Bergamo you can also visit the Museum of Natural History Enrique Caffi . It has its own paleontological and zoological collection, archaeological area and even a section with stuffed animals. The building is so big that you can get lost in it! That is why it is better to have a scheme of the location of exhibits at the entrance and follow it. Another great advantage is that the museum is open late, unlike the rest of the city. Most cafes, restaurants and galleries work until 19 o’clock with a three-hour lunch break – Italians don’t like to overwork. It reminds me of the Darwin Museum in Moscow. The entrance ticket costs 3 EUR (198 RUB).
As I have already written I liked the park of San Vigilio Castle very much. But since it’s in the upper part of the city, it’s not always easy to get to. Therefore, a worthy alternative is Parco della Trucca – a green city park with lots of comfortable benches. It’s perfect for a picnic and a relaxing break. Locals here take their dogs for walks and there’s even a dog park. White swans swim in a small pond. The place is perfect for company as well as for a solitary stroll.
What to see in 1 day
Of course, to visit Bergamo one day is not enough at all. But for many budget travelers, this city is a “staging point” before a further trip, thanks to the convenient location of the airport. So the first thing I would certainly recommend is to walk around the center, ride the cable car, and eat a lot of local pizza.
You can plan your day as follows:
- 10:00 – 12:00 – walk around Piazza Vecchi, sightseeing nearby.
- 12:00 – 13:30 – Ascent by funicular to San Vigilio Castle where you can enjoy real Italian ice cream and the views from the park.
- 13:30 – 14:30 – Lunch at Il Fornaio Cafe in the old town.
- 14:30 – 16:30 – Visit one of the museums.
- 16:30 – 19:30 – go down to the Lower Town and visit some of the churches I mentioned above.
- 19:30 – 20:30 – have dinner at the Bar La Funicolare in the Lower Town
- 20:30 – 22:00 – walk around the evening city, buy some cheese and olive oil in the stores.
What to see in the surroundings
From Bergamo you can easily reach Milan: they are only 60 km apart. Every hour there are comfortable double-decker trains to Milano Centrale from the train station in the city center. Tickets can be purchased at ticket offices and cost 5 EUR (330 RUB).