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Although Bergamo is one of Lombardy’s main cities, very few guide books about the region tend to cover it in depth.
Travel writers usually focus on Milan and the lakes that are the most popular with tourists, such as Garda and Como.
However, Lombardy and the Italian Lakes by Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls proves to be a welcome exception.
The seventh edition of this classic from Cadogan Guides devotes 25 pages to Bergamo and places of interest just outside the city.
There is no attempt to write off the Città Bassa (lower town) as of little interest, in the way other guide books have done in the past. Instead the writers describe it as ‘wide and stately’ and there is a useful run down of the churches, interesting buildings and art treasures that can be seen.
They say: ‘The view of the Città Alta, its domes and towers rising boldly on the hill against a backdrop of mountains, is one of the most arresting urban views in Italy’ and then go on to take a detailed look at what there is to see after you have made the ascent on either the funicular or bus.
Outside Bergamo they recommend visiting San Pellegrino Terme, once a fashionable spa town, Oneta, supposedly the birthplace of Arlecchino (Harlequin) and Cornello del Tasso, a medieval stopping-off point for merchants on their way to Bergamo.
The guide book shows due respect for Lago d’Iseo, pointing out that though it is only the fifth largest of the Italian lakes, it is one of the first for charm. There are ten pages covering the resorts around the lake, Valle Camonica to the north and the Franciacorta wine growing area.
With plenty of hotel and restaurant recommendations, Lombardy and the Italian Lakes makes useful reading if you are planning to explore Bergamo and its surroundings or Lago d’Iseo.