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.


Chestnuts are healthy as well as tasty

Chestnuts are in season
in Bergamo

It is the chestnut season now in Bergamo and the city and surrounding countryside will have a plentiful supply to be used in a variety of delicious recipes over the next few weeks.
While I was visiting Bergamo last week there was one day of rain and wind which blew a lot of chestnuts down from the trees. The sun returned the next day and dried up all the rain leaving the chestnuts to be picked up by keen connoisseurs of the fruit.
The chestnuts growing wild in the countryside round Bergamo will be harvested in November and many will be roasted on bonfires before being used to make tasty soups, tarts and cakes.
According to the October issue of il Paniere magazine, chestnuts are rich in vitamin B and C and minerals. You will see two varieties, a small sweet one known as la garavina and larger ones, which are referred to as i marroni di selva.
You can eat them raw, cooked, roasted, in cream, in cakes, as marrons glacé (with icing sugar), in foccacia and in chocolate.
If you want to be able to keep them for a while, leave them in water for three days before drying them in the sun.
While I was enjoying an authentic, Neapolitan meal in Trattoria Caprese in Via Daniele Piccinini in the Cittá Bassa last week, the waiter came round and placed a handful of roasted chestnuts on each table, a complimentary side dish reminding us that outside it was actually autumn in Lombardy.

Here is a quick and easy recipe you can make in your own home:

Roast your chestnuts on a baking tray in a hot oven.
Quickly peel them while they are still hot.
Toss them in a dry frying pan over a high heat without using any butter or oil.
Remove the pan from the heat and sprinkle the chestnuts with Grappa and sugar.
Mix and then flambé them. The heated spirit will light with a match.
Eat the chestnuts as soon as the flames disappear.
For a kilo of hot, roasted chestnuts you will need about 70 mls of Grappa and three tablespoons of caster sugar.
Buon Appetito!

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Top ten sights in the Città Alta in Bergamo

People often ask what the top ten sights are in Bergamo’s Città Alta (upper town).
Colleoni Chapel
I have put together a list of ten places that visitors to Bergamo really must see. Because the Città Alta is compact and easy to walk around it should be possible to cover them all in one day.
There are so many beautiful, historic buildings in Bergamo that it has been difficult to make my choice and anyone who would like to add to the list is welcome to email me with their suggestions.
Don’t miss:
1 – Colleoni Chapel in Piazza Duomo -  a Renaissance gem that was built to house the tomb of Bartolomeo Colleoni.
2 – Palazzo Terzi in Piazza Terzi – a palace considered to be an important example of baroque architecture.
3 – Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Piazza Duomo – a beautiful church that houses the tomb of opera composer Gaetano Donizetti.
4 – Palazza Ragione in Piazza Vecchia – a 12th century stone palace with an open staircase leading to the top floor.
5 – Museo Donizettiano in Via Arena – a fascinating museum dedicated to the composer that is housed in a beautiful, old palace.
Statues at Palazzo Terzi
6 – Il Campanone in Piazza Vecchia – a 12th century tower that houses the big bell that sounds Bergamo’s nightly curfew.
7 – La Rocca -  a distinctive circular tower originally built as a fortress to protect Bergamo .
9 – Il Tempietto – a tiny church that dates back to the year 1000.
10 – Biblioteca Civica in Piazza Vecchia – a white marble palace housing Bergamo’s civic library.


Marble palace in Piazza Vecchia

Not to be missed in Bergamo’s Città Bassa…


Biblioteca Civica
The white marble Biblioteca Civica (Angelo Mai Civic Library) is the impressive building at the northern end of Piazza Vecchia. It was originally built as a town hall for Bergamo at the beginning of the 16th century, based on a design by architect Vincenzo Scamozzi.
Also sometimes referred to by the Bergamaschi as Palazzo Nuovo, the building is a striking contrast to the older, grey stone Palazzo della Ragione opposite. 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’s opening hours vary according to the day of the week and the season, so check first with the Tourist Office in Via Gombito.


Step inside to see sumptuously decorated interior

Not to be missed in Bergamo’s Città Bassa…


The basilica entrance on
Via Arena
One of the most important and beautiful churches in Bergamo is the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, which has entrances from both Piazza Duomo and Via Arena in the Città Alta (upper town).
The basilica was built in the 12th century in the shape of a Greek cross but was modified in the 14th and 16th centuries.
It has a large interior with a richly decorated cupola from the 16th century and some fine Flemish and Florentine tapestries and works of art.
At the back of the church is an elaborate white marble monument designed by Vincenzo Vela, marking the tomb of composer Gaetano Donizetti, who was born in Bergamo and returned to die in the city. Nearby there is a monument to his teacher Simon Mayr, who was maestro of the chapel in the basilica.
There is also an elaborately carved wooden confessional designed by Andrea Fantoni in 1704 and an altar rail with wood carvings following designs by Lorenzo Lotto.
The Basilica’s sacristry was demolished in the 15th century to make way for the Colleoni Chapel, which was built on the orders of Bergamo’s wealthy and influential condottiero, Bartolomeo Colleoni, to house his own tomb.
The Colleoni Chapel was designed by Giovanni Antonio Amadeo to harmonise with the architecture of the Basilica and has now come to be acknowledged as one of the finest Renaissance buildings in Italy.