A MAGICAL PLACE

Bergamo’s beautiful upper town, the Città Alta (pictured above), is a magical place well worth visiting. Use this website to help you plan your trip to Bergamo in Northern Italy and find your way to some of the other lovely towns and villages in Lombardia that are perhaps less well known to tourists.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Sant’Alessandro festival 2015


Patron saint honoured by bells


The bells have been ringing out all over Bergamo today to herald the festival in honour of the city’s patron saint, Sant’Alessandro, which starts tomorrow.
The annual event commemorates the event on August 26, 303, when Sant’Alessandro was martyred by the Romans for refusing to renounce his Christian faith.
Column marks spot where
 Sant'Alessandro was executed
It is believed Sant’Alessandro was a devout citizen who had defiantly continued to preach in Bergamo, despite several narrow escapes from the Romans, but he was eventually caught and suffered decapitation.
A series of religious, cultural and gastronomic events focused on the theme of Gratitude will takes place in his name over several days throughout the city, which will be decorated with festive lights.
Palazzo Frizzoni, the seat of the commune, will open its doors to the public for guided tours tomorrow afternoon.
Bergamaschi bell ringers will perform a set of traditional old tunes to entertain the public in Piazza Mascheroni and there will be stalls and refreshments along the Sentierone. A firework display will take place at 10.30 pm tomorrow night.
Porta Sant’Alessandro, which leads from the upper town to Borgo Canale and San Vigilio, was built in the 16th century. It was named after a fourth century cathedral that had originally been dedicated to the saint but was later demolished.

See Best of Bergamo’s updated Flights Guide
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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Accademia Carrara

Palace filled with art treasures is a major attraction in Bergamo


One of the biggest jewels in Bergamo’s crown, the prestigious art gallery Accademia Carrara, is shining even more brightly now it is open to the public again.
The magnificent palace just outside the Città Alta, which was built in the 18th century to house one of the richest private collections of art in Italy, had been closed for renovation work for seven years.
It is the only Italian museum to be entirely stocked with donations and bequests from private collectors. Visitors can now view a broad-ranging collection of works by the masters of the Venetian, Lombard and Tuscan renaissances as well as great artists who came later, such as Lotto, Titian, Moroni, Rubens, Tiepolo, Guardi and Canaletto, to name but a few.
Restored Accademia the day it reopened
The reopening of the Accademia Carrara in April this year sparked great celebrations in Bergamo, after the museum had been closed for so long for restoration and maintenance work.
Following a spectacular opening ceremony and party the museum opened its doors to the public for the first time on 24 April. Thousands of people were waiting outside in Piazza Giacomo Carrara to get their first look inside the refurbished building.
Visitors can now walk through 28 rooms to view more than 600 major works by artists and sculptors spanning five centuries.

Highlights include: Madonna and Child by Andrea Mantegna; Portrait of Leonello d’Este by Pisanello; Three Crucifixes by Vincenzo Foppa; Madonna and Child by Giovanni Bellini; The Story of Virginia the Roman by Sandro Botticelli; The Mystic Marriage of Saint Catherine by Lorenzo Lotto; Madonna and Child in a Landscape by Tiziano Vecellio; Madonna with Baby and Saints by Palma il Vecchio; Portrait of an Elderly Man seated by Giovan Battista Moroni; The Grand Canal from Palazzo Balbi by Antonio Canal Canaletto.

A Canaletto masterpiece
The Accademia Carrara was established in Bergamo in 1794 on the initiative of Bergamo 
aristocrat Count Giacomo Carrara as a combined Pinacoteca and School 
of Painting.  In addition to his collection of paintings he left his entire estate to the Accademia to secure its future.
The number and quality of works in the Accademia increased over the years thanks to the many donations and bequests received from private collectors.
From being a museum dedicated to Renaissance painting, the Accademia grew into an art gallery that also provided a broad representation of pictorial genres from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.
For part of the time the gallery was closed, the gems of the collection went on show in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. And visitors to Bergamo were able to see some of the paintings on display in the Truss Room of Palazzo della Ragione in Piazza Vecchia.
Painting depicts the death of Bergamo composer Donizetti
But now one of the richest collections of art in Italy is back where it belongs, in the Palace built specially to house it, in Bergamo’s Città Bassa.
Accademia Carrara in Piazza Giacomo Carrara is just outside the walls of the Città Alta, a short walk from Porta Sant’Agostino.

Accademia Carrara is open Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10 am to 7 pm; Friday from 10 am to 12 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 8 pm. It is closed on Tuesday. For more information visit www.lacarrara.it.

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Monday, May 4, 2015

Death in the High City first anniversary

Successful year for Bergamo’s first English crime novel


Death in the High City, the first British detective novel to be set in Bergamo, has had an exciting first year.
The novel, which was published in Kindle format on Amazon 12 months ago today, has sold copies in the UK, Italy, America, Australia and Canada. A paperback version of Death in the High City was published in July 2014.
Author Val Culley has had some heart warming emails and messages about the book from readers both in the UK and abroad and has been delighted with the level of interest in her first novel.
With the Colleoni Chapel in the background
In October 2014 Val was a guest at the fifth anniversary celebrations of Bergamo Su e Giù, a group of independent tour guides in the city. She was invited to present Death in the High City to an audience in San Pellegrino Terme and sign copies of the book and she also made an appearance on Bergamo TV to talk about the novel with presenter Teo Mangione.
In November the book was purchased by Leicestershire Libraries and is now in stock at Loughborough, Shepshed, Ashby de la Zouch, Coalville, Castle Donington and Kegworth Libraries and is going out on loan regularly.
In April this year Val was invited to Bergamo again to present her novel to a group of 80 Italian teachers of English and to sign copies. She made a second appearance on Bergamo TV and also formally presented a copy of Death in the High City to the Biblioteca Civica (Civic Library) in Piazza Vecchia, a location that is featured in the novel itself.
Death in the High City centres on the investigation into the death of an English woman who was staying in the Città Alta while writing a biography of the composer Gaetano Donizetti.
On display in a library
The novel is the first of a series to feature the characters of Kate Butler, a freelance journalist, and Steve Bartorelli, a Detective Chief Inspector, who is of partly Italian descent and has just retired from the English police.
The victim had been living in an apartment in Bergamo’s Città Alta and much of the action takes place within the walls of the upper town. The local police do not believe there is enough evidence to open a murder enquiry and so Kate Butler, who is the victim’s cousin, arrives in Bergamo to try to get some answers about her death.
Kate visits many of the places in the city with Donizetti connections and her enquiries even take her out to Lago d’Iseo and into the countryside around San Pellegrino Terme. But after her own life is threatened and there has been another death in the Città Alta, her lover, Steve Bartorelli, joins her to help unravel the mystery and trap the killer. The reader is able to go along for the ride and enjoy Bergamo’s wonderful architecture and scenery while savouring the many descriptions in the novel of local food and wine.
The novel will be of interest to anyone who enjoys the ‘cosy’ crime fiction genre or likes detective novels with an Italian setting.
Death in the High City by Val Culley is available on Amazon.com.

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Friday, April 17, 2015

Santa Marta Cloister

A glimpse of the beauty of 14th century Bergamo 


A tranquil spot in the heart of the elegant banking district in Bergamo’s Città Bassa, the Santa Marta Cloister remains as a perfectly preserved part of a 14th century convent.
To the left of the Torre del Caduti in Piazza Vittorio Veneto, a view of the ancient cloister can be obtained from under the colonnades of the Palazzo della Banca Popolare di Bergamo.
Modern sculptures embellish the garden of the cloister
The building housing the bank was built in 1926 and the arcade in front of the bank leads to the entrance to the cloister, which is all that remains of the convent that was founded here in the 14th century,
The convent was enlarged over subsequent centuries but was finally demolished to make way for the urban redesign of Bergamo planned by architect Marcello Piacentino, who was commissioned with revamping the Città Bassa in 1907, when he was just 26 years of age.
Only the longest side of the cloister complete with its arched colonnades now survives from the original building.
To see the beautiful Santa Marta Cloister, look through the iron gates to the left of the main entrance to the bank.

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Monday, February 2, 2015

How Orio al Serio airport has helped put Bergamo on the map for visitors to Italy

Bergamo's airport at Orio al Serio is the fourth busiest in Italy and there is no doubt that its rapid expansion has helped raise the profile of the city.
Developed on the site of a military airfield, the airport welcomed its first commercial flight in 1972 but it was not until the deregulation of the aviation industry in the late 1990s that it began to grow at a significant rate.
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Ryanair is the principal carrier at Bergamo Airport
(Picture by Paul Lenz)


See our updated Flights Guide

With the boom in regional and low-cost airlines that followed deregulation,  Orio al Serio began to see passenger numbers increasing by significant numbers year on year.  Around a million travellers used the airport in 2000; by 2014 the figure was 8.77 million, more than passed through Marco Polo airport in Venice.
At first seen as a third airport for Milan -- hence it is often referred to as Milan Bergamo -- the airport has helped boost Bergamo's standing as an attraction in its own right, not least because its proximity to the city allows travellers to take in some wonderful views as they land, the Città Alta's beguiling charms often visible from the aircraft windows.
Recently renamed Il Caravaggio International Airport - in honour of the artist who took his name from the town in Bergamo Province where he grew up -- the airport is situated just 3.7 kilometres (2.3 miles) to the south-east of the city.  
Taxis to the city are in plentiful supply and there are buses every 20 minutes from outside the arrivals area, every half an hour at weekends
Bus tickets cost only a couple of euros and the journey time is short -- only 15 minutes to the railway station in Bergamo's Città Bassa, 30 minutes to the Città Alta.  Look out for the No 1 service, which runs along Viale Papa Giovanni XXIII and Viale Roma - the Città Bassa's main thoroughfare -- before climbing to the Città Alta along Viale Vittorio Emanuele II.  Most of the Città Bassa's major hotels are within a short walk of the bus route.

See our updated Flights Guide

Currently you can fly to Caravaggio from more than 30 countries around Europe and North Africa. Ryanair has developed Bergamo as one of its major hubs and the majority of flights to the airport are operated by the Irish budget carrier.
Visitors to Bergamo from the United Kingdom can fly with Ryanair from Bristol, East Midlands, London Stansted and Manchester.  Flights from London Stansted account for around 375,000 passengers arriving in Bergamo each year. 
Ryanair has also become a major carrier within Italy, operating flights to Caravaggio from 10 departure points
In addition to the UK, countries with direct flights to Bergamo are: Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Tunisia, Turkey and Ukraine. 

More details can be found in our Flights Guide which has been updated to show the spring and summer schedules.


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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

New Year celebrations in Piazza Vecchia

For the first time ever the funicular that links the Città Bassa with the Città Alta will run until two o'clock in the morning on New Year's Day (Capodanno) in Bergamo.
This is to enable revellers to enjoy the celebrations in Piazza Vecchia, which are expected to go on well after the Campanone has rung in the New Year at midnight.
Action in Death in the High City
 takes place in Piazza Vecchia.

Restaurants around the square will be putting on special New Year's menus and there will be live music and entertainment for the crowds in Piazza Vecchia. A fireworks display from Porta San Giacomo will welcome in 2015 with a bang.
ATB (Azienda Trasporti Bergamo) have taken the decision to keep the funicular running after midnight when it would normally stop to enable locals and visitors to get home safely after enjoying the festive atmosphere.
Bergamo's Piazza Vecchia will clearly be the place to see in the New Year.
Buon Anno and a Happy New Year to all visitors to Best of Bergamo.
And a special thank you to everyone who has bought a copy of Death in the High City, published in 2014 and the first crime novel to be set in Bergamo, in which most of the action takes place within the walls of the Città Alta.

Death in the High City by Val Culley is available in paperback and in Kindle from Amazon



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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Celebrating Christmas Bergamo style


With Italian specialities readily available in the shops there is no reason why you can’t recreate a traditional Bergamo Christmas in your own home.
Panettone, Pan d’Oro and Panforte are great alternatives to Christmas pudding and Prosecco is, in my opinion, better than Champagne.
Prosecco, cake and a novel set in Italy
While you may not be able to find authentic Bergamo sausages or meats for your antipasti or not want to go to the trouble of making your own casoncelli alla bergamasca for your primo piatto, you can find good quality prosciutto and salami and stuffed pasta in most shops.
Christmas is very much a family feast in Bergamo, just as in the rest of Italy .
After la Vigilia di Natale (Christmas Eve), when traditionally a fish meal is consumed, Natale (Christmas Day) is a time for feasting.
While the children open their presents, the adults savour a glass of Prosecco as they prepare the festive table.
Friends and relatives who drop in with presents or to exchange good wishes will be offered nuts, biscuits and torrone (nougat from Cremona.)
Antipasti dishes of prosciutto and bresaola are served with preserved mushrooms, olives or pickled vegetables.
Stuffed pasta is usually served as a first course, either in the shape of ravioli or tortellini, which are said to have been offered as Christmas gifts to priests and monks during the 12th century.
For the main course, turkey or capon is likely to be served, with potatoes and vegetables as side dishes.
The traditional end to the meal is almost always Panettone, served warm accompanied by a glass of sparkling wine.
Panettone is said to have been concoted by a Milanese baker, Antonio (Toni), to impress his girlfriend at Christmas time in the 15th century. The result was so successful that ‘Pane de Toni’ has become a regular feature of the Christmas season all over Italy and now abroad.
The feasting and family parties continue on 26 December, the festa di Santo Stefano (Boxing Day).
To transport you back to Bergamo over the festive season, why not read Death in the High City, a crime novel in which much of the action takes place in Bergamo’s Città Alta.

Death in the High City by Val Culley is available from Amazon.com

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