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.


Royal Wedding fever hits Italy

Victor Emanuele III's statue
a reminder of Italy's royal past
Billions of people all over the world are following the wedding of Prince William of Wales and Kate Middleton on television today.
Italian viewers could enjoy two hours of live coverage of the ceremony and its build-up on the country's main television channel, Rai Uno.
Last night the live debate programme Porta a Porta was devoted to Nozze di Re (the royal wedding). The question was asked: Is the future of the monarchy in William’s hands?
And studio guests discussed the people left off the guest list for the wedding, which include members of the former Italian royal family, who spent many years in exile but are now living back in Italy .
On June 2 every year, Italians celebrate the birth of the republic in Italy . They voted for a republic in a referendum held in 1946 and as a result King Umberto II went into exile.
But the Italian royal family are still remembered in many places throughout the country, including Bergamo, where a statue of Victor Emanuele III towers over Piazza Giacomo Matteotti in the Città Bassa (lower town).
And the attitude of many Italians has softened towards their former royal family in recent years. Emanuele Filiberto, the son of the current king of Italy, achieved the majority vote in Ballando con le Stelle on Rai Uno, an equivalent of the popular BBC programme, Strictly Come Dancing, when he took part in 2009. Thanks to the viewers’ vote he was crowned champion, sparking headlines in the Italian newspapers declaring him ‘King for a Night’.


Festa della Liberazione

The monument to the partisans
Today is a Bank Holiday in Bergamo and throughout the rest of Italy as the country celebrates the Festa della Liberazione.
The Festa marks the day on 25 April 1945 when the Allied troops were finally able to liberate Italy .
The marches, gatherings and concerts held throughout the day provide an opportunity for Italians to remember their fallen soldiers, in particular the partisans of the Italian resistance who fought the Nazis as well as Mussolini’s troops throughout the second world war.
A focal point for remembering will be the Torre dei Caduti in Piazza Vittorio Veneto in the Città Bassa (lower town). Nearby in Piazza Matteotti there is a striking monument dedicated to the partisans by Bergamo sculptor Giacomo Manzu, which he presented to his home town as a gift in 1977.

Tasso immortalised by statue in Bergamo

Torquato Tasso's statue
 in Piazza Vecchia
Torquato Tasso, who has come to be regarded as the greatest Italian poet of the Renaissance, died 416 years ago today.
He will never be forgotten in Bergamo because of the large statue of him in front of the Palazzo della Ragione in Piazza Vecchia in the Città Alta (upper town).
Torquato Tasso was the son of a Bergamo nobleman, Bernardo, who was also a poet. Torquato travelled constantly during his 51 years of life and spent two periods only in his father’s native city, but he always wrote about Bergamo with great affection.
His journey ended on 25 April, 1595 when he died in Rome .
Torquato Tasso’s most famous work is his epic poem Gerusalemme Liberata (Jerusalem Delivered.)
Nearly 100 years after his death, when the statue of him was erected in Piazza Vecchia, the bar next to it, Caffè del Tasso, changed its name. 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).
But in 1681 it became Al Torquato Tasso Caffè e Bottiglieria (Torquato Tasso Café and Wine Shop.)
The celebrated poet spent most of his life wandering from one noble court to another but now has a permanent place in Piazza Vecchia in Bergamo’s Città Alta.

View Torquato Tasso's statue in a larger map


Easter 2011 in Bergamo

Eye-catching Easter eggs in a Bergamo shop
Many Bergamo shops are tempting customers with colourful displays of Easter eggs 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 Via Colleoni in the Città Alta (upper town) and down in the Città Bassa (lower town) there is a well-stocked chocolate and sweet shop in Via Tiraboschi, a left turn off Viale Papa Giovanni XXIII at Largo Porta Nuova. The shop also sells a selection of boxes of chocolates and biscuits -- ideal to take home as holiday presents.
On Easter Sunday in Bergamo the restaurants are busy at lunchtime as families go out to celebrate la Pasqua (Easter) together and many will be serving a special menu.
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 at Pavia .
But there is also the theory that 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. 
Buon Appetito e Buona Pasqua!


Visit Bergamo’s new tourist office

The new tourist office in Città Bassa
Bergamo has a smart new tourist office in the Città Bassa (lower town) located in part of the refurbished bus station in Via Bartolomeo Bono.
The entrance to the tourist office is from Viale Papa Giovanni XXIII, next to Piazzale degli Alpini, just a short walk from the railway station.
Visitors will be given a free map of Bergamo and information about what there is to see during their stay in the city.
The helpful multilingual staff can also provide information about concerts, events and exhibitions and look up train and bus times for visitors.
The tourist office for the Città Alta (upper town) is in Via Gombito on the ground floor of the Gombito Tower .
There is also a tourist office in the Arrivals hall at Bergamo’s Orio al Serio airport.
When visiting any of the tourist offices remember to ask for the latest copy of Key to Bergamo, a handy magazine with features in Italian that have English translations running alongside. It also has details of opening times and contact telephone numbers for Bergamo’s main sights.
For more tourist information, visit www.turismo.bergamo.it


Typical Bergamo cooking at La Colombina

La Colombina
A good place to try traditional Bergamo dishes is the Antica Trattoria La Colombina in Borgo Canale just outside the walls of the Città Alta (upper town).
La Colombina is next door to the birthplace of composer Gaetano Donizetti, who wrote some of the greatest lyrical operas of all time. He was born on 29 November, 1797 in the basement of number 14 Borgo Canale. He wrote about his birthplace: “I was born underground in Borgo Canale. One descended the stairs to the basement, where no ray of sunlight had ever been seen. And like an owl I flew forth…”
The house is open to the public at weekends only. Check the opening times with the Tourist Office in Via Gombito.
La Colombina occupies the ground floor of a very similar house at number 12 Borgo Canale. The restaurant is in the main salone, but there is also a terrace for dining outside in the summer with beautiful views over the hills and surrounding countryside.
The restaurant is decorated in traditional style and has an ornate ceiling and an original tiled floor.
Among the antipasti served are typical Bergamo salami, ham and artichokes and sfogliata -- a type of pastry tart -- with zucchini and cheese with a tomato sauce.
Primi piatti (first courses) include casoncelli alla bergamasca, risotto with asparagus and gnocchi with verdure and branzi cheese.
Among the main courses on offer are polenta taragna with funghi porcini, brasato (braised beef) and stinco al forno (braised pork shank) both served with polenta. When I tried out the restaurant last month (March 2011) I found that the food was well cooked and the Valcalepio wine was reasonably priced and very good.
La Colombina's stinco al forno
My husband and I were offered complimentary blueberry grappa and the restaurant's own amaro colombina as digestivi 
(liqueurs) at the end of the meal.
La Colombina is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. For more information visit www.trattorialacolombina.it.


Bergamo art exhibition wins time for gallery restoration

Palazzo della Ragione
Visitors to Bergamo can look inside the 12th century Palazzo della Ragione in the Città Alta (upper town) and enjoy some of the finest paintings from the prestigious Accademia Carrara collection at the same time.
While the Accademia’s neoclassical building in the Città Bassa (lower town) is being restored, a selection of the gallery’s most important works are on show in the Truss Room of the Palazzo della Ragione.
The exhibition ‘Vincere il Tempo’ (literally Winning Time) will run throughout 2011 from Tuesday to Sunday each week.
The exhibition follows the collecting history of the Accademia, which was begun by Giacomo Carrara in the middle of the 18th century and has since received donations from other passionate art collectors.
Along with works by Raphael, Titian and Mantegna, masterpieces by local artists such as Giovan Battista Moroni, Fra’ Galgario and Vincenzo Foppa are on display.
The entrance to the exhibition is up the covered staircase in Piazza Vecchia and along the little bridge that leads to the top floor of the palazzo.
The ticket price is €5, but there are reductions for groups and families. For more information visit www.accademiacarrara.bergamo.it.

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Sit by the lake and sample Bardolino

Street cafe in Bardolino
Among the benefits of basing yourself in Bergamo are the good transport links to beautiful places in the surrounding area.
It is an easy trip by train from the railway station in Piazza Marconi in Bergamo’s Città Bassa (lower town) to the lovely resort of Bardolino on Lake Garda .
You can have a pleasant day out exploring the old town, enjoying the views of the lake and sampling the delicious, light red Bardolino wine that is produced there.
Take the train to Brescia and then change to the Milan to Venice service which calls at Desenzano. There are regular boats to Bardolino from Piazza Matteotti at the side of the lake in Desenzano.
You will see the tower of an old castle that is now part of a hotel as the boat approaches Bardolino.
Walk down the short main street into the town, which is lined with shops, restaurants and bars where you can sample Bardolino by the glass.
Make a point of visiting the church of San Severo, which dates back to the 11th century and is a popular location for weddings, and the small church of San Zeno, which dates back to the eighth century and still contains traces of its original frescoes.
If you want to learn more about Bardolino wine and the history of wine making, visit the fascinating wine museum run by the Zeni family of winemakers at Via Costabella 9. The museum is open from mid-March until the end of October and individual visitors are admitted free of charge. For more information visit www.zeni.it.
It is also an easy drive from Bergamo to Bardolino, following the A4 autostrada (motorway) towards Venice .
There are plenty of good quality hotels in Bardolino if you decide to stay the night there.
In a good position, not far from the lake, is the three star, family run Hotel Quattro Stagioni. Recently renovated, the hotel is in Borgo Garibaldi in the oldest part of Bardolino. It has a pretty garden, a swimming pool and its own wellness centre.
Four generations of the Arietti Manara family have run the Hotel Quattro Stagioni. They say that they pride themselves on providing guests with a warm welcome and on paying attention to even the smallest details.
Book with venere.com or Hotels.com

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Anniversary of Donizetti’s death in Bergamo

The Donizetti monument
Today is the 163rd anniversary of the death of composer Gaetano Donizetti in Bergamo.
Donizetti returned to his native city after a brilliant career to spend his last days in the Palazzo Scotti in the Città Alta (upper town).
By then seriously ill, he was looked after by friends in the gracious surroundings of the palazzo, situated in what is now called Via Donizetti.
He died on 8 April 1848 and his tomb is in the nearby Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, where it is marked by a white marble monument.
Donizetti has since become acknowledged as the greatest composer of lyrical opera of all time. He was a major influence on Verdi, Puccini and other composers who came after him.
Nowadays his achievements can be studied at the Museo Donizettiano in Via Arena, where there are many interesting letters, documents and original scores on display.
Opera lovers will be fascinated by the bed he died in and the chair he sat in while staying in Palazzo Scotti towards the end of his life.
His most famous operas are considered to be Lucia di Lammermoor, Don Pasquale and L’Elisir d’Amore.
His birthplace in Borgo Canale, just outside the Città Alta, is also open to the public at the weekends.
In Via Sentierone in the Città Bassa (lower town), there is an elaborate white marble monument to the composer next to Teatro Donizetti, which was renamed in his honour in 1897 on the centenary of his birth.

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Quaint old piazza now home to post office

Piazza Mercato del Fieno
A small square in Bergamo’s Città Alta (upper town) that still has a distinctly medieval feel is Piazza Mercato del Fieno just off Via Gombito.
The square was once the site of the Città Alta’s hay market and is still bordered by three medieval tower houses.
One of the houses, which used to be owned by Bergamo’s rich and powerful Suardi family, has a pretty little balcony under a double arched mullioned window.
Piazza Mercato del Fieno is now the location of the Città Alta’s post office and also has some shops, bars and restaurants.
To find the square, turn right from Via Gombito opposite the Città Alta’s tourist office.
The piazza is a good place to stand to take a photograph of the Gombito tower, which looms high above Via Gombito.
The square is on higher ground and is sufficiently far away to enable you to capture a shot that includes the top of the tower.

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Milan’s grand canals

Milan is within easy travelling distance of Bergamo and makes an interesting day out with plenty of things to see and good shops and restaurants.
There is an hourly train service to Milan from the railway station in Piazza Marconi in Bergamo’s Città Bassa (lower town).
The journey takes less than an hour and you arrive at Milan’s Stazione Centrale with its spectacular iron and glass roof.
You could take the metro to Piazza Duomo to see the magnificent cathedral and the Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele II with its smart shops and bars.
Or to experience something completely different, take the metro to Porta Genova, from where it is a short walk to the vibrant Navigli district (pictured above).
The banks of i Navigli, Milan ’s ancient canal network, have now become a lively area full of art galleries, antiques shops, restaurants and bars. During the summer, Naviglia Grande is the location for an antiques market on some Sundays.
Milan’s canals date back to the 12th century. They were used to ship marble into the city while the Duomo was being built in the 14th century and continued to be used till as recently as the 1970s to bring in sand and gravel.
Now the Milanese enjoy walking along the banks of the canals by day and visiting the night spots in the area after dark.
If you are tempted to sample the nightlife of the Navigli district, you could book a stay at a hotel in the area.
The Ca Bianca Corte del Naviglio is in an ideal location in Via Lodovico il Moro, which runs alongside Naviglio Grande.
It is a short walk from Porta Genova, or you could take the tram from outside the station to a stop just 50 metres from the hotel.
Located in an historic building, the Ca Bianca Corte del Naviglio has a pleasant courtyard and garden to relax in as well as its own bar and restaurant.

Book with Venere.com or http://uk.hotels.com/ho260377/ca-bianca-hotel-corte-del-naviglio-milan-italy/

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