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.


Square was the hub of the city in the 15th century

Not to be missed in Bergamo’s Città Bassa…


Piazza Pontida is a popular meeting place
One of the squares with historic importance in the Città Bassa (lower town) is Piazza Pontida, which is near the corner of Via Sant’Alessandro and Via XX Settembre.
The piazza is close to a point known for centuries as Cinque Vie (five roads), where traffic from Milan, Lecco, Treviglio and Crema would converge.
Piazza Pontida was the place where the goods arriving in Bergamo would be unloaded and bargained for before being sent up to the Città Alta (upper town).
Some of the portici (porticoes) date back to the 15th century, when the farmers and merchants would shelter from the sun while negotiating over the goods. It would have been a lively scene, with story tellers and poets roaming from one inn to the next, entertaining the crowds who had come to trade in the square.
There are now modern shops doing business from under the porticoes but the square is still a popular meeting place for local people.
Sit at a table outside one of the bars or restaurants and watch the Bergamaschi going about their business, imagining what the scene would have been like 500 years ago.

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Get away from it all at La Valletta Relais

If you would like a relaxing holiday in the countryside outside Bergamo but have all the amenities of the Città Alta (upper town) available within walking distance, consider a stay at La Valletta Relais.
The pretty La Valletta Relais Hotel

This well regarded three star hotel is in Via Castagneta in the Parco dei Colli, just above Bergamo’s Città Alta.
Visitors have described it as a 15 to 20-minute walk away from the upper town, but the hotel also provides free transport to and from the Città Alta on request.
La Valletta Relais has a large terrace where guests can sit and enjoy the views over the surrounding countryside and breakfast is served out there during the summer.
The hotel is well placed for walking enthusiasts as there is a choice of scenic paths to follow through Parco dei Colli, some starting as close as 100 metres from the hotel.
La Valletta Relais’s eight bedrooms all have en suite bathrooms, satellite television and minibar and there is free wifi internet access available throughout the building.

Book with the hotel direct

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Renaissance church commissioned by wealthy merchants

Not to be missed in Bergamo ’s Città Bassa…


Despite its rather rough looking façade, the church of Santo Spirito is considered the most important religious Renaissance building in Bergamo’s Città Bassa (lower town).
The unusual façade of the
church of Santo Spirito
It was converted from an original 14th century church by the Venetian born architect Pietro Isabello in 1530 on behalf of some of the rich merchant families in Bergamo.
But the project was not completed at the time, the façade was left unfinished and the church’s vaulted roof was added in the 18th century.
The striking bronze sculpture is a much more recent addition, a representation of the Descent of the Holy Ghost (Discesa dello Santo Spirito) designed by Francesco Somaini and erected in 1971. 
The fine Renaissance design of the church is more striking in Santo Spirito’s interior, which has a nave and ten side chapels divided by tall columns. The church is said to have been particularly admired by Pope John XXIII, who was born just outside Bergamo.
Santo Spirito houses many important works of art including Enthroned Madonna with Saints and Angels, painted by Lorenzo Lotto in 1521 and works by Andrea Previtali and Ambrogio Bergognone.
It is worth looking in the fifth chapel on the left to see the tomb of two members of the Tasso family, who were the pioneers of a regular postal service as early as the beginning of the 15th century.
The church of Santo Spirito can be found in Piazzetta Santo Spirito on the corner of Via Torquato Tasso and Via Pignolo.

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Celebrate Easter in Bergamo

Easter eggs fill shop windows
in Bergamo
Easter is a lovely time for a break in Bergamo as the weather is beginning to warm up and the spring flowers are in bloom.
In the run up to Easter many Bergamo shops will have elaborate displays of chocolate eggs in their windows. 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.
Although Venerdi Santo (Good Friday) is not a Bank Holiday in Italy and the shops are open as usual there will be special services in the churches and some areas will have processions and events.
On Easter Sunday, while the world tunes in to watch the celebrations in Rome on television, services will be held at churches all over Bergamo.
The restaurants in Bergamo will be busy at lunch time as families go out to celebrate la Pasqua (Easter) together and many will be serving a special menu. If you are looking forward to a good lunch it is advisable to book somewhere in advance.

Traditional Easter food

A traditional Easter meal for Italian families, whether they are eating at home or in a restaurant, is likely to centre on 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. 
If the weather is warm and sunny, consider a day out at one of the lakes near Bergamo during your stay.
You could take a bus to the resorts of Sarnico, Tavernola Bergamasca or Lovere on the western shore of Lago d’Iseo. Or you could go by train to Brescia , where you then change to the train to Edolo that runs alongside the eastern shore of the lake. The train stops at Sulzano and from there you could make the short crossing to Monte Isola, the largest lake island in Italy and southern Europe.
From Brescia you can also take a train to Desenzano del Garda on Lake Garda , from where you can go by boat to Sirmione or Bardolino.
And it is only half an hour by direct train from Bergamo to the beautiful lake resort of Lecco at the foot of Lago di Como.
Buona Pasqua! 

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Casoncelli alla bergamasca recipe

Casoncelli alla bergamasca, as served by Il Sole
restaurant in Bergamo's Città Alta 
Casoncelli, or casonsei as they are called in dialect, are part of Bergamo’s proud culinary tradition and visitors who have sampled them while in the city have spread the word about how tasty they are.

The pasta shape is made by folding a sheet of pasta over the filling and pressing it together at the edges in the manner of ravioli. The finished shape looks a bit like a wrapped sweet.
You can make casoncelli at home, reminding yourself of your enjoyable stay in Bergamo, by following this simple recipe.
Pasta ingredients:
Flour, 400gr
Wheat bran, 200 gr
Two eggs
Filling ingredients:
Breadcrumbs, 125 gr
One egg
Grana Padano cheese, 125 gr
Sausage meat, 150 gr
Cooked beef, 100 gr
Amaretti 5 gr
Raisins 10 gr
One peeled and chopped pear
Nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper
Lemon peel
Mix flour, eggs and a pinch of salt on a pastry board with enough water to make a smooth dough. Leave to rest for 30 minutes.
Melt a knob of butter in a saucepan and brown sausage meat, pear and beef.  Add chopped parsley and minced garlic.
Tip the meat into a bowl and add the cheese, breadcrumbs, crushed amaretti, eggs, raisins and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix together well.
Roll out the pasta and cut into two lengths. Place a spoonful of filling every few centimetres along the first length of pasta. Fold the length of pasta over to cover the filling and cut out half moon shaped discs along the length. Repeat with the second length. Press each disc gently in the middle with your finger.
Cook your casoncelli in boiling salted water, drain and then serve them sprinkled with grated cheese. Top with melted butter, chopped fresh sage and diced cooked bacon.
Pour yourself a glass of chilled Valcalepio Bianco to accompany the dish. Buon Appetito e Salute!

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