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.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Eating out in Crema

Visitors enjoying a day out in the historic city of Crema will find that there is no shortage of good bars and places to eat. 
Just 40 kilometres to the south of Bergamo, the city of Crema has some fine architecture and it is well worth making the journey by train or road to spend a day there.
In the centre of the city, near a beautiful church, the ornate 18th century Santa Trinità (pictured left), you will find the Speranza Ristorante and Pizzeria is a good place to stop for a meal.
Offering specialities from Amalfi as well as traditional Lombardian cuisine, the Speranza (pictured below) is smart and comfortable and the dishes on the menu are reasonably priced.
The pizza I enjoyed during my visit to the restaurant in February this year was as authentic as any I have tasted when in the south of Italy,
The Speranza says on its business card that it is putting “45 years of experience at the service of the customer” and I certainly found the staff to be friendly and efficient. 

Speranza is in Via Crocefissa di Rosa off Via XX Settembre and is open every day except Monday. To book in advance telephone 0373 84702.

More restaurants

Ristorante Speranza in Crema

What to see in Sarnico

Sarnico is at the most southerly point on Lago Iseo and is within easy reach of Bergamo.
It is a lovely place to visit on a day trip from Bergamo and you can enjoy walking at the side of the lake or taking a boat trip.
There are also plenty of things to see in the medieval part of the town, with its cobbled streets climbing away from the lake.
Just above Piazza Umberto in Piazza San Paolo off Via Tresanda is the 15th century church of San Paolo, while another church of interest, with a lakeside setting, is the Parrocchiale di Tours (pictured), an 18th century baroque style church with a marble altar.
Il Museo Civico Gianni Bellini has works of art from the period 1500 to 1700 on display in a restored 15th century palazzo.
To see a villa in the Liberty style take a look at Villa Faccanoni built by Milanese architect Giuseppe Sommaruga on the Via Vittorio Veneto leading out towards Predore.
Lago Iseo is the seventh largest lake in Italy and has Monte Isola, the largest lake island in Europe,at its centre.
For more information about what there is to see in Sarnico visit the Tourism Office in Via Lantieri.

Where to eat in Sarnico


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Contarini fountain is both ornate and useful

The Contarini Fountain
The Piazza Vecchia in Città Alta has been praised for its beauty by architects ranging from Le Corbusier to Frank Lloyd Wright.
An elegant feature in the centre that is often admired is the ornate fountain decorated with white marble lions.
It provides a good focal point for photographers, against a backdrop of either the Palazzo della Ragione at the southern end of the square, as pictured here, or the marble facade of the Biblioteca Civica opposite.
The baroque fountain is similar to those seen in Venetian squares, as it was donated to the city by Alvise Contarini, who had been sent by Venice to be Podestà (administrator) for Bergamo.
Contarini’s parting gift to Bergamo at the end of his time in office in 1780 was practical as well as decorative. The water flowing from a spout in the mouth of the sphinx must have been a welcome relief for the local people during the frequent droughts being suffered by the city at the time. 

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Risotto alla Milanese

You will see Milan’s famous variation on traditional risotto on many of the restaurant menus in Bergamo offered as a first course.
The special ingredient is zafferano (saffron) which is added when the rice is almost cooked and makes the dish yellow in colour.
For four people you will need:

1 onion (finely chopped)
50 gr butter
125 ml dry white wine
275 gr Arborio rice
One litre of chicken stock
4 strands of saffron
50 gr parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Melt half of the butter in a saucepan and fry the chopped onion in it on a low heat until it becomes golden. Add the rice and stir until it is well coated with the butter. Pour in the wine and turn up the heat slightly.
When the wine has evaporated, start adding the stock to the rice a little at a time, gently stirring it in. While it is cooking, pound the saffron strands into a powder in a small dish or cup and pour a little of the stock over. After the rice has been cooking for about ten minutes add the saffron mixed with the stock and stir in before seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
The risotto is ready to serve when the rice is ‘al dente’, no longer hard in the middle but not overcooked and too soft. Stir an in the rest of the butter and the grated parmesan and then spoon the mixture into warmed dishes.
You could serve each portion topped with a cooked asparagus spear and some shards of parmesan cheese, as in the picture.
Risotto alla Milanese is a simple, but elegant, dish.
Typically Milanese in fact.
Buon Appetito!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Bergamo’s tribute to Torquato Tasso

Torquato Tasso's statue
Torquato Tasso, who is regarded as the greatest Italian poet of the Renaissance, died in Rome on 25 April, 1595 -- 415 years ago.
He is immortalised in Bergamo by a large statue (right) that stands in front of the Palazzo della Ragione in the Piazza Vecchia in the Città Alta.
Tasso was the son of a Bergamo nobleman, also a poet, but he travelled about constantly during his 51 years of life. He spent two periods only in his father’s native city, but is known to have written about Bergamo with affection.
Tasso’s most famous work is his epic poem Gerusalemme Liberata (Jerusalem Delivered).
Nearly 100 years after Tasso’s death, a statue of him was erected in a corner of the Piazza Vecchia and the bar next to it subsequently changed its name to Caffè Tasso.
Dating back to at least 1476, the bar would have been known during Tasso’s life as the Locanda delle Due Spade (the Two Swords Inn).
In 1681 when the statue of the poet was erected the bar’s name was changed to Al Torquato Tasso Caffè e Bottiglieria (Torquato Tasso Café and Wine Shop).
Since then, the celebrated poet who spent most of his life wandering from one noble court to another has had a permanent home in Bergamo. 


Friday, April 23, 2010

Prosecco – ideal pick-me-up for tired tourists

A refreshing, delicate sparkling white wine sold by the glass in many bars in Bergamo is Prosecco.
Named after the variety of grape it is made from, Prosecco is lighter and more delicate than Champagne because it is bottled while young rather than being fermented.
It is made in the areas of Valdobbiadene and Conegliano in the Veneto region, to the north east of Bergamo.
It was probably named after the town of Prosecco near Trieste where the grape, one of Italy’s oldest, is believed to have originated.
Italy produces 150 million bottles of Prosecco a year, mostly from the area around Valdobbiadene.
Fortunately for the rest of the world, Prosecco travels well and is reasonably priced when put on sale. It is best drunk young.
When on holiday in Italy, Prosecco is the ideal aperitivo to enjoy before lunch and dinner and is a refreshing drink to order in a bar when you are having a break from sight seeing. Salute!


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Dining out in the Città Bassa

If you want to find somewhere to eat in the Città Bassa (lower town) there are plenty of good restaurants.
Whether you are looking for somewhere to have a pizza or the chance to sample some traditional Bergamo dishes, there is a wide choice within easy reach of Porta Nuova in the heart of the Città Bassa.
A long-standing, authentic restaurant serving Lombardian specialities is La Valtellinese Taverna in Via Tiraboschi.
Established in 1967, La Valtellinese serves traditional food to the people of Bergamo and visitors to the city. It is closed on Mondays. Telephone 035 243 331 to book a table.
In nearby Via San Bernardino is the Del Gallo trattoria and pizzeria, which serves a comprehensive menu in an intimate atmosphere. There are some Sicilian specialities and the fresh fish is particularly good.  It is open every evening. Telephone 035 330344 to book a table.
There is a friendly pizzeria in Via Zambonate. Capri Da Nasti pizzeria and trattoria is closed on Mondays. Telephone 035 247 911 to book a table.
And La Ciotola in Viale Papa Giovanni XXlll serves visitors and local people every day except Wednesdays and Thursday lunch times. Telephone 035 238 33 4 to book.

More restaurants

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Bergamo’s baptistery

Il Battistero
The octagonal building to the right of the Colleoni Chapel in Piazza Duomo in the Città Alta (upper town) is Il Battistero (the Baptistery), which has had an interesting life.
Il Battistero was built in 1340 by Giovanni da Campione to be placed inside the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore.
However it was dismantled in 1680 to be reconstructed and placed in a courtyard at the side of the Duomo.
Then in 1898 it was moved to its present site next to the Colleoni Chapel in the Piazza Duomo.
The upper part of the building, with its elegant marble pillars and eight 14th century statues representing the virtues, is part of the original building. Inside, the baptesimal font is still the original that was designed by Giovanni da Campione. During its last move a base was added to give the building greater height.
Il Battistero is kept locked and is open to visitors by appointment only.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

How to get to Lake Garda

Within easy reach of Bergamo and the airport at Orio al Serio is the beautiful and popular Lago di Garda (Lake Garda.)
Italy’s largest lake has been praised by writers and poets over the centuries for its clean water, mild and sunny climate and for the beauty of many of the towns that lie along its shores.
Visitors landing at Bergamo’s Orio al Serio airport have approximately an hour’s drive (78 km) to reach Desenzano del Garda, the nearest of the towns at the foot of the lake.
To get there by train you can travel from the railway station in Bergamo to Brescia where you can link up with a Milan to Venice express train which calls at Desenzano del Garda. Again it will take about an hour.
Also within easy reach, if you are travelling from Bergamo,is the medieval town of Sirmione (above), which is on the end of a peninsula jutting out into the lake. The poet Catullus and opera legend Maria Callas both appreciated Sirmione’s beauty and made their homes there.
You can easily take a boat from Desenzano to Sirmione or travel further on to Bardolino, which is on Lake Garda’s east shore. Bardolino is a lovely old town, famous for the delicious red wine of the same name, which you can buy by the glass in the bars there and, of course, it is offered on the menu at the restaurants in the town.

Monday, April 19, 2010

What to see in Crema

A fascinating place to visit while staying in Bergamo is Crema, which is 40 kilometres to the south.
Crema is steeped in history with some fine architecture and it is well worth making the short drive or train journey to get there.
If you take the train you will have to change at Treviglio and board a train bound for Cremona, which is further down the line. When you arrive in Crema you will come out into Piazza Martiri della Libertà. Walk along the Via Giardino past the public gardens and go through the Piazzale della Rimembranza to Piazza Garibaldi,where there are bars and shops.
Continue walking along Via Mazzini, which is a pleasant street lined with shops, towards the centre of town.
If you arrive by car you will be able to park near Porta Ombriano in Piazza Giovanni XXIII. Porta Ombriano was built in 1805 following a neoclassical design by architect Fastino Rodi from Cremona.
In nearby Via delle Grazie is the 17th century church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, which was built to house an ancient painting of the Madonna.
A short distance away in Via XX Settembre is the beautiful baroque church of Santa Trinità.
If you continue walking towards Piazza Duomo you will see the clock on the Torazzo, which belongs to the town council with the façade of the Duomo visible behind it.

The Duomo (right) was completed in 1341 on the site of an earlier church. Although changes were made over the years, it has been restored back to its original Gothic design. It contains some 14th century and later frescoes.
There are many more churches and plenty of palaces to see in Crema, as well as an open air market and an old theatre. There is also no shortage of good bars and restaurants.

Where to eat in Crema


Sunday, April 18, 2010

A marble palace at north end of piazza

The Biblioteca Civica
A beautiful building in the Piazza Vecchia that should not be missed by visitors is the white marble Biblioteca Civica (Angelo Mai Civic Library), also referred to as the Palazzo Nuovo.
The impressive building at the northern end of the Piazza Vecchia was originally built as a town hall for Bergamo's Città Alta (upper town) at the beginning of the 16th century, based on a design by architect Vincenzo Scamozzi.
It became the home of a library in the 18th century, whose collection of documents, manuscripts and volumes has grown over the years to reach in excess of 500,000 items.
The Biblioteca Civica houses documents dating back to the 12th century, a 15th century copy of Dante’s Divine Comedy, handwritten scores by Gaetano Donizetti and his teacher Simone Mayr and works by Pope John XXIII, who was born Angelo Roncalli in nearby Sotto il Monte.
The facade of the building was finally completed in the 20th century, still following Scamozzi’s original design, and the library was later named after Cardinal Angelo Mai, a famous palaeographer, who was born in Schilpario, north of Lago Iseo.
It now provides a tranquil place to study for writers and scholars in Bergamo and is well worth visitors going in to have a look round the interior.
The Biblioteca Civica is open every day but the hours vary according to the day of the week and the season, so check first with the Tourist Office in Via Gombito.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Stay in Sarnico and enjoy views of the lake

Sarnico on Lago Iseo is within easy reach of Bergamo and the airport at Orio al Serio. Set among mountains, it is the perfect place for a peaceful break.
Although it is at the foot of one of the most beautiful lakes in Italy, the resort of Sarnico is still not well known to tourists.
Under an hour’s drive from Bergamo, Sarnico can also be reached by bus or train.
But if you decide to stay for a few nights, try the Hotel Sebino in Piazza Besenzoni at the side of the lake, which has rooms with wonderful views over Lago Iseo.
The hotel has been converted from a former convent and has an elegant restaurant, Il Chiostro, which has been established in the old cloisters.
Book here or for more information visit the hotel's own website at www.hotelsebino.it. Telephone 035 910 043. 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tourist office in medieval tower

Uffici di Informazione Turistiche (Tourist Information Offices) are excellent in Italy. Even small towns have their own tourist information office, which will give you free maps, books and leaflets on the main sights, as well as lists of hotels and restaurants. The staff will also look up bus and train times for you.
Bergamo is particularly well served as there are three Tourist Information Offices with helpful, multilingual staff.
When you arrive at the Milan Bergamo airport at Orio al Serio you will find a Tourist Information Office in the Arrivals area, which is open every day from 8 am until 11 pm to help people who have just landed with transport and hotel information.
There is another Tourist Information Office in the Città Bassa (lower town), conveniently located close to the railway station and bus station in Piazza Marconi.
And the Città Alta (upper town) also has its own Tourist and Information office in Via Gombito (pictured), only a short walk away from the funicular stop in Piazza Mercato delle Scarpe.
It is based on the ground floor of the Torre Gombito (Gombito Tower) which is on the left hand side of the street as you walk towards the Piazza Vecchia.
Like many buildings in the Città Alta, the Torre Gombito was built in the 12th century but there are indications of an earlier Roman building on the site. It was modified over the years so that the ground floor could be used as a shop, but this later caused the tower to become unstable.
In 1848, local people established themselves in the tower to rise up against the Austrians who ruled them at the
time. And towards the end of the last century, restoration work was carried out to make safe and preserve the tower.
For more information, visit www.turismo.bergamo.it, where you will also be able to read ‘the Key to Bergamo’ online, which is a useful magazine produced by Turismo Bergamo.

Palace provides open air court room

Palazzo della Ragione

One of the most important buildings in Bergamo’s Città Alta is the 12th century Palazzo della Ragione (Palace of Reason), an imposing presence at the southern end of the Piazza Vecchia.
The ground floor walls of the Palazzo were removed in the 15th century to allow a view through the arches into the Piazza Duomo. This gives you glimpses of the sumptuous facade of the Colleoni Chapel, which is in stark contrast to the dark stone of the Palazzo. It is said that court cases used to be heard under the open arcades that now form the ground floor of the Palazzo,which must have provided quite a spectacle for the Bergamaschi.A grand covered stairway, which dates from 1453, rises from the Piazza Vecchia to the first floor of the Palazzo. There are 13th and 14th century frescoes taken from old churches and houses in the area in the upper hall, which can be viewed on the occasions when the upper hall is open for events.
The carving of the lion over the central window was added to the exterior of the building in the last century to recall the period when the Venetians ruled over Bergamo. The Palazzo della Ragione is open to visitors every day except Mondays.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Restaurant looking out over Lago Iseo

The elegant lakeside town of Sarnico, which makes a nice day trip from Bergamo, has a number of places to eat and for good food at modest prices the Ristorante Pizzeria Anphora is worth a visit.
The restaurant is situated in the heart of the town in Piazza XX Settembre, which is on the edge of the lake (pictured above).
Steps lead up from the square to the restaurant, which has tables outside in the summer. Inside, it is smart and modern and is furnished with some antique pieces and bric-a-brac.
Ristorante Pizzeria Anphora specialises in fish and seafood dishes but also offers some traditional Lombardian recipes. It is closed on Mondays.
To book a table or check the opening hours, telephone 035 910828.

More restaurants

Monday, April 12, 2010

Bergamo home to top flight football

The world famous San Siro stadium in Milan may be just 35 miles from Bergamo, but Serie A football is actually even closer.  
Atalanta is a name instantly recognisable to football fans, even to those whose interest in Italian football does not go beyond checking weekly results. But the fact they reside in Bergamo, denoted by the ‘B’ in their full title ‘Atalanta Bergamasca Calcio’, is not commonly known.
The city has a long-standing football tradition. Bergamo used to have a club bearing its name. FC Bergamo was created by Swiss immigrants in 1904, but was challenged three years later by a rival club, Atalanta, named after the female athlete of Greek mythology. The clubs existed alongside each other for a number of years but any rivalry was put aside when they merged in 1920, forming Atalanta Bergamasca Calcio, with the abbreviation Atalanta quickly becoming common.   
This development has undoubtedly been to the benefit of football in Bergamo. The city’s modest population of just 116,000 can only be expected to support one club, especially given that Atalanta are consistently in the shadow of their more famous neighbours, AC and Inter Milan. 
There are 34 cities in Italy larger than Bergamo, many of which are home to clubs far less successful than Atalanta. Sometimes referred to as ‘Regina delle provinciali’, the queen of the provincial clubs, Atalanta’s Coppa Italia triumph in 1963 remains their only major honour. However, in 1988 they reached the semi-finals of the European Cup Winners' Cup, beating Portuguese giants Sporting Lisbon on the way and have also finished as high as fifth in Serie A.       
Atalanta are currently competing at the top level, with the stars of Inter, Juventus, AC Milan and Roma frequent visitors to the Stadio Atleti Azzuri D’Italia, Atalanta’s home since 1928. Pictured above in a photograph taken from Largo Colle Aperto in Città Alta, the old-fashioned and atmospheric ground, a little reminiscent of English stadia of the 1970s and 80s, is on the Viale Giulio Cesare, just two miles from both the centre of the Città Alta and the train station in the Piazza Marconi. 
Ticket prices are extremely good value, particularly when compared to the cost of watching the Premier League in England. For the majority of league matches this season, kicking-off at 3pm local time on Sundays, adult tickets are available from 14 euros (£12.40) while children under 14 are admitted to all games for three euros (£2.65). Even when the visitors are their giant neighbours Inter and AC Milan, clubs not particularly liked by Atalanta mainly because they are perceived to have encroached on their support base, adult prices start at just 22 euros (£19.40).  
While the iconic blue and black stripes of Inter Milan have been thrust into the limelight recently by them reaching the Champions League semi-finals, the blue and black stripes of neighbouring Atalanta have been merely battling to avoid relegation from Serie A as the season nears its end. 
So, if you will be in Bergamo on a Sunday over the next few weeks, be sure to visit the Stadio Atleti Azzuri d’Italia to give them a cheer!


Sunday, April 11, 2010

When the bell tolls for the Bergamaschi

The distinctive 'big bell tower', il Campanone, in Bergamo’s Città Alta (upper town) is a familiar part of the sky line, visible from miles away.
Centuries ago il campanile (the bell tower) was at the heart of every community and was a landmark for travellers on horseback aiming to reach their home town or city. 
Bergamo’s bell tower dates back to at least the 12th century. It is also known as the Torre Civica (Civic Tower) and stands next to the Palazzo della Ragione, more than 52 metres tall, dominating a corner of the Piazza Vecchia. From the top there are wonderful views over Bergamo and the surrounding countryside.

If you are in the Piazza Vecchia at 10 pm on any evening you will hear the bell toll 100 times marking the ancient curfew, when the gates in Bergamo’s walls were locked at night to keep the city safe from outsiders. The bell tolled at 10 pm to remind the Bergamaschi that it was time to come back inside the walls or be locked out for the night.
The structure of the tower has been modified over the centuries because of fire damage and being struck by lightning. A clock face was added to it in the 15th century. 
The big bell itself had a narrow escape during the Second World War when the Germans considered melting it down to manufacture weapons.
Il Campanone is open on Saturdays and Sundays, but can be visited by request between Tuesday and Friday.
Opening hours vary according to the time of year so it is a good idea to check with the Tourist Information Office in Via Gombito to help you decide when to visit.

Language point

Il campanalismo

Campanone, meaning big bell tower, is a variation of the word, campanile
Because il campanile (the bell tower) has come to symbolise the heart of a local community, the word campanilismo has been developed by Italians to mean exaggerated local patriotism or parochialism, or excessive support for a local or restricted group, as opposed to general promotion of a community.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Enjoy a day trip to Lago Iseo

A lovely place to visit within easy reach of Bergamo is Sarnico on Lago Iseo.
It takes less than an hour to drive or go by bus to the elegant little town, which is 27 kilometres from Bergamo.
It is on the edge of what is perhaps Italy’s most romantic and lesser known lake. Lago Iseo is in a beautiful setting among the mountains and has the spectacular Monte Isola, the biggest lake island in Europe, at its centre.
Sarnico is at the foot of the lake on its western shore, where it joins the Fiume Oglio (River Oglio.)
It is pleasant to walk along Via Garibaldi at the side of the lake and admire the views and there is also a medieval town centre to explore. If you walk along Via Lantieri (below), which is off Piazza Umberto, you will see architectural reminders of the middle ages such as narrow alleyways and passages under arcades.

Call at the Tourism Information Office at number 6 Via Lantieri and ask for a free map and a list of the main sights.
There are buses to Sarnico every hour from the bus station in Via Bartolomeo Bono in Bergamo which will take you to the Municipio (Town Hall) in Viale Roma. From there it is a short walk down to the side of the lake.  


Friday, April 9, 2010

Eating out in the Città Alta

Visitors to Bergamo who want to enjoy good food have plenty of choice in the Città Alta where many
prestigious restaurants have been recommended in guides covering the whole of Italy. 
In a prime location in the Piazza Vecchia (above) is the Taverna Colleoni dell’Angelo, on the right-hand side of the square as pictured, which offers a 'gourmet meat menu' and a 'gourmet fish menu'. For more information,visit http://www.colleonidellangelo.com/. To book a table telephone 035 232596.
L’Osteria di Via Solata is a short walk from the Piazza Mercato delle Scarpe, where the funicular from the Città Bassa arrives. The restaurant prides itself on offering the best wines. It is closed on Sunday evenings and every Tuesday.
From La Marianna in Largo Colle Aperto there are great views of the Città Bassa. The restaurant dates back to 1953 and has a terrace as well as indoor tables. To book telephone 035 247 997.
In a corner of the Piazza Vecchia, at the start of the Via Bartolomeo Colleoni, is Il Sole. Although it looks small from the outside, there are plenty of tables in two large rooms, furnished in traditional style with oil paintings and antique cookery implements on display. There is also a large garden for sunny lunches and dining outside on warm evenings.
To book a table, telephone 035 218 238. The restaurant is closed on Thursdays. Il Sole is also one of the few hotels in the Città Alta, with ten rooms available for booking. Visit http://www.ilsolebergamo.com/ for more details. 

More restaurants


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Bergamo remembers Donizetti

The brilliant composer Gaetano Donizetti will be remembered by many people in Bergamo and around the world today on the anniversary of his death 162 years ago.
Donizetti died on 8 April 1848 in the gracious surroundings of the Palazzo Scotti in Bergamo, where he was staying as a guest. He is now acknowledged as one of the greatest composers of lyrical opera and was a major influence on Verdi, Puccini and the others who followed him.
Today the life of Donizetti can be studied at the Museo Donizettiano in Via Arena. The  museum has librettos and scores. His most famous operas are Lucia di Lammermoor,  Don Pasquale and L’Elisir d’ Amore.
Opera lovers will marvel at his bed and chair, which are on display in the museum along with the portrait, pictured above. Check the museum's opening times with the Tourism Office in Via Gombito in the Città Alta. 


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Colleoni Chapel is must see sight

The Colleoni Chapel
One of the main sights that visitors to Bergamo must see is the Colleoni Chapel in Piazza Duomo in the Città Alta (upper town).
The elegant chapel (pictured) is the jewel in Bergamo’s crown and has been acclaimed as one of the finest examples of Renaissance architecture in the whole of Lombardia.
It was built by order of Bartolomeo Colleoni, a captain under the Venetian republic, who wanted a fitting home for his own tomb.
He and his favourite daughter are buried there and the story is that the wealthy former soldier asked for his tomb to be positioned so that the sun illuminated it when it shone through the window.
The chapel was designed by Giovanni Antonio Amadeo and has been likened to a jewel box because of its ornately decorated marble facade.
It was built between 1472 and 1476 and designed to harmonise with the architecture of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore.
The Colleoni Chapel is one of the most picturesque sights in Bergamo and not to be missed by photographers.


Monday, April 5, 2010

Where to stay in Bergamo Bassa

Your hotel’s location can be everything when you are on a short break in Bergamo. 
Choosing the right place in the Città Bassa (lower town) will give you easy access to transport links to take you to the lakes and other towns and villages nearby. You can be handy too for the funicular or bus route to take you up to the Città Alta (upper town).
There are several hotels to choose from along or near to the Viale Papa Giovanni XXIII and Viale Vittorio Emanuele II (pictured), which links the rail and bus stations off Piazza Marconi with the Città Alta. 
Close to the funicular and only walking distance from the main shops and restaurants in the Città Bassa is the Hotel Excelsior San Marco in the Piazza Repubblica. Set back from the main street in a big garden, the hotel has 155 rooms, either standard, superior, deluxe or suites, all with satellite television, minibar and free internet
connection. There is a restaurant, which serves either an American or Continental buffet breakfast. Book here or for more information visit www.hotelsanmarco.com or telephone 035 366 111.

In a very good location on the Viale Papa Giovanni XXIII near Porta Nuova is the Best Western Premier Hotel Cappello D’Oro. The décor is traditional but the hotel has modern comforts such as a bar, sauna and gym and its own restaurant, The Antico Ristorante del Moro serves meals, including Bergamo specialities, and a buffet breakfast. The rooms all have satellite television, minibar and free internet connection. Book here or for more information visit www.bwhotelcappellodoro-bg.it or telephone 035 228 9011.
Further along Viale Papa Giovanni XXIII in the direction of the railway station is the Mercure Bergamo Palazzo Dolci. Situated in an old palace on the corner of the Via Paleocapa, the hotel is furnished in a contemporary style, has a bar and offers room service. The rooms all have satellite television, mini bar and free internet connection.
Book here or for more information visit www.mercure.com or telephone 035 227 411.

Handily situated between the station and the beginning of Viale Papa Giovanni XXIII is the Albergo PiemonteseThe hotel in Piazza Marconi is a short bus or taxi ride from the airport at Orio al Serio and a short walk from
the shops, bars and restaurants of the Città Bassa. There are frequent buses to the funicular which takes you up to the Città Alta or you can enjoy a bus ride round the walls of the Città Alta to the Colle Aperto stop.

The Piemontese has 55 rooms all with telephone and satellite television. A buffet breakfast is served from 7am to 10am in the large breakfast room on the lower ground floor. There is an internet point in reception and car parking for guests. Book here or visit www.hotelpiemontese.com  for more information or telephone 035 21 26 29.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Buona Pasqua

Traditional Easter cake
Happy Easter!
On Easter Sunday in Bergamo, the restaurants will be busy at lunchtime as families go out to celebrate la Pasqua (Easter) together.Many restaurants will put on a special menu for Easter Sunday and tables can be hard to find, so it is worth booking a couple of days in advance if you want to have lunch at your particular favourite on Easter Sunday.
A traditional Easter meal for Italian families, whether they are eating at home or in a restaurant, is likely to centre round agnello (lamb) as the main course, either roasted or braised.
For dessert there will usually be la Colomba, the dove-shaped cake that is traditional at Easter, in the same way that il Panettone is traditional at Christmas.
La colomba (the dove) is known as the bird of peace and there is a legend that says a cake in the shape of a dove was offered to try to end a siege in the Italian town of Pavia.
But there is also the school of thought that believes the cake was created in the 1930s by a firm in Milan who wanted to provide a cake for Easter that was the equivalent to il Panettone.
La Colomba is now sold all over Italy but is also made in the home. The traditional version has an almond and sugar
topping, but these days the shops sell them with all kinds of fillings, icings and toppings. They are all delicious.
Buon appetito e Buona Pasqua!

La Colomba -- Italian Easter treat

Easter egg hunt

Easter eggs make a lovely window display
Easter Saturday is usually a busy shopping day in Bergamo.
Anyone who has not yet bought their Easter eggs will have the chance to browse among the tempting displays in the shops such as the one pictured here.
Italian Easter eggs are usually wrapped artistically in
coloured cellophane and tied with pretty ribbons. They often contain a toy, or in the case of Easter eggs for adults, a gift, which can sometimes be as substantial as a mobile phone!
There are some fascinating chocolate and cake shops in the Via Colleoni in the Città Alta (upper town.)
Down in the Città Bassa (lower town) there is a well-stocked chocolate and sweet shop in the Via Tiraboschi, a left turn off the Viale Papa Giovanni XX111 at Largo Porta Nuova. The shop also sells a selection of boxes of chocolates and biscuits that are ideal to take home as holiday presents. 

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday in Bergamo

Venerdi Santo (Good Friday) is a day for prayer in Italy.
It is not a Bank Holiday and the shops, bars and restaurants still open as normal, but many people visit a church during the day or attend one of the services.
One of the most important and beautiful churches in Bergamo is the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore (pictured) in Piazza Duomo in the Città Alta (upper town).
The basilica was built in the twelfth century in the shape of a Greek cross but was modified between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries. It has a sumptuously decorated interior rich with works of art and also houses the tomb of composer Gaetano Donizetti.
For the times of services at the basilica over Easter check with the tourism office in Via Gombito.

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