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.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Enjoy a day trip to Sarnico on Lago d’Iseo

The foot of Lago d'Iseo seen from Sarnico

As the weather gets warmer in Bergamo, consider spending a day in Sarnico on Lago d’Iseo. It takes less than an hour to drive or travel by bus to the elegant little town 27 kilometres from Bergamo .
Sarnico is on the edge of what is perhaps Italy’s most romantic and least known lake. Lago d’Iseo is in a beautiful setting among 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 Fiume Oglio (River Oglio.)
There is a service to Sarnico every hour from the bus station in Via Bartolomeo Bono in Bergamo. The bus leaves the city along Via Borgo Palazzo and passes through a series of interesting, small towns with mountain views in the distance.
From Chiudino onwards you will see fields of vines with the grapes for the next season’s Valcalepio wine growing on them.
The bus passes through Grumello del Monte, which has a pretty square with a fountain, Castelli Calepio and Villongo before turning towards the lake. The nearest stop to the lake is outside Sarnico’s Municipio (Town Hall) in Viale Roma. From there it is a short walk to the lake where you can stroll along Via Garibaldi, which runs alongside it, and admire the views.
A street in the centre of Sarnico
There is also a medieval town centre to explore uphill away from the lake. In Via Lantieri, 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.
Just above Piazza Umberto in Piazza San Paolo, off Via Tresanda, is the 15th century church of San Paolo.
Il Museo Civico Gianni Bellini has works of art from between 1500 and 1700 on display in a restored 15th century palazzo.
To see a villa in stilo Liberty (early 20th century Liberty style) take a look at Villa Faccanoni in Via Vittorio Veneto, built by Milanese architect Giuseppe Sommaruga.

Where to eat in Sarnico

For a good meal in a lovely setting, try Ristorante Pizzeria Anphora in the heart of the town in Piazza XX Settembre on the edge of the lake.
Steps lead up from the square to the restaurant, which has an outside eating area for summer use overlooking the lake.
Inside, the restaurant is smart and modern but is furnished with antiques and bric a brac.
Ristorante Pizzeria Anphora specialises in fish and seafood dishes but also offers Lombardian recipes. It is closed on Mondays.
To book a table or check the opening hours telephone 035 910828.

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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Enjoy musical memories in tranquil Via Arena in Bergamo

Bergamo: Via Arena
Quiet Via Arena in Bergamo
One of the most beautiful and characteristic streets in the Città Alta (upper town) is the peaceful Via Arena.
The narrow cobbled street lined with old houses with ornate portals and fresco decorated walls runs from Piazza Santa Maria Maggiore up to the west end of the Città Alta and the Seminario Vescovile. It can be accessed by leaving the church of Santa Maria Maggiore at the south entrance.
On the left side is the high wall encircling the Santa Grata convent with an ornate church entrance. Opposite is the Palazzo della Misericordia Maggiore, which houses a musical institute and the Donizetti museum.
The palazzo, at Number 9 Via Arena, was originally built in the 15th century but was extended and refurbished in the 17th century to become the largest baroque building in Bergamo .
The museum dedicated to Gaetano Donizetti has a unique and fascinating collection of furniture, paintings, books and musical scores.
Donizetti, who was born and died in Bergamo, composed about 70 highly regarded operas in 30 years, making him one of the leading composers of opera in the early part of the 19th century and a major influence on Verdi, Puccini and other Italian composers who came after him.
Donizetti Museum, Bergamo
Donizetti museum entrance in Via Arena
Visitors are able to see Donizetti’s furniture, including the bed he died in and the chair he used to sit in towards the end of his life when he was living in Palazzo Scotti in Bergamo ’s Città Alta as the guest of a wealthy family. There are also the composer’s piano, portraits, original scores from his operas and his letters on view in display cases as well as a library of books and documents.
To add to the atmosphere as you look round the museum, you will hear occasional snatches of music played by students using the practice rooms of the musical institute, which is also housed in the palace.
The origins of the musical institute go back to the charitable lessons in music provided for orphans early in the 19th century by Simone Mayr, music master at Santa Maria Maggiore, under who Donizetti himself at one time studied
The Donizetti Museum in Via Arena is open from Tuesday to Friday from 9.30 to 13.00 and on Saturday and Sunday from 9.30 to 13.00 and from 14.00 to 17.30. Closed Mondays.

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