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.


PolentOne - the taste of Bergamo in a bowl

Journalist Jeremy Culley urges visitors not to miss a wonderful chance to enjoy a Bergamo speciality as soon as they arrive in the Città Alta

PolentOne's stall is tucked away under an archway opposite the funicular station
PolentOne's stall is tucked away under
an archway opposite the funicular station
Uninspiring and dingy takeaways often greet you when you arrive in a town or city by train but that is not the case when you emerge from the funicular station into Bergamo’s wonderful Città Alta.

Here, the first food outlet you see is an unassuming stall built under an archway leading from the Piazza Mercato delle Scarpe up some steps to the Piazzetta Luigi Angelini, directly opposite the entrance to the station.

PolentOne provides an immediate introduction to cucina bergamasca  and is about as far a cry from the ubiquitous kebab shop as is possible to imagine. 

As the name suggests, PolentOne’s menu is dominated by polenta, with its versions heralded as the best in the city. Aside from a few panini filled with local meats and cheeses, almost all dishes feature the local cornmeal and buckwheat staple. 

The owners clearly have a sense of humour, too. Polentone - meaning polenta-eater - is a term some southern Italians use to describe northerners, and not necessarily in a complimentary way!

PolentOne's dishes follow a simple format - a choice of bramata (plain) or taragna (made with cheese) polenta topped with a range of delicious local specialities.

After a morning’s sight-seeing in the Città Alta, PolentOne is the ideal spot to rest your feet for a quick, tasty and good-value lunch. 

My wife and I both opted for the delicious polenta taranga, usually made with Branzi or other Alpine cheeses. I picked the salamella (local salsiccia) as a topping and my wife, the ragù cinghiale (wild boar sauce), each costing just seven euros.

Polenta served with ragù cinghiale 
(top) and the local
salamella sausage
For very little extra you can add a bottle of Peroni and a glass of white wine before pulling up a pew at one of the tables to wait for your counter to buzz signifying your food is ready.

The aromas emanating from the kitchen make the wait seem long but in reality it is only five minutes or so. You are presented with steaming hot bowls of polenta taragna. The grilled salsiccia was worthy of a restaurant, while the ragù tasted like it had been simmering for hours despite being served in the time it took to have two sips of wine.

It is a perfect warming lunch - a taste of Bergamo in a bowl for the cost of a drink at a bar. 

The next time you arrive in the Città Alta by funicular do not make the mistake of writing off PolentOne as ‘just another station takeaway’. To do so would be a great disservice to a food outlet serving what must be the best polenta in Bergamo.

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The founding of Atalanta football club

Bergamo institution launched by high school students

The club badge with
the image of Atalanta
Atalanta - Bergamo’s premier football club - was founded 115 years ago today, on October 17, 1907.

The club was the idea of a group of students from the Liceo Classico Paolo Sarpi, one of the city’s oldest and most prestigious high schools, which can be found off Via Arena in the Città Alta.

Football was just one activity that came under the umbrella of the Società Bergamasca di Ginnastica e Sports Atletici Atalanta - the Bergamasca Society of Gymnastics and Athletic Sports - to which they attached the name Atalanta after the Greek mythological heroine famous for her running prowess.

Soon, football was the dominant sport, although for the first seven years of its life, the new club had no home and played friendly matches on whatever open space was available. In 1914 they did find a home ground in Via Maglio del Lotto, adjoining the railway line just outside Bergamo station.

The ground had a small grandstand housing 1,000 spectators. It is said that the drivers of trains approaching the station would slow down in order to enjoy a few moments of the action.

In the event, after Italy was drawn into World War One, the club remained in Via Maglio del Lotto for only two seasons. With so many young men going off to fight, the club suspended its activities and sold the ground.

Atalanta's 1913-14 team, which played at a stadium near Bergamo's railway station
Atalanta's 1913-14 team, which played at a
stadium near Bergamo's railway station
When the club was reconstituted before the start of the 2019-20 season, they established a new home, named the Clementina Stadium, on the site of a former racecourse to the southeast of the city centre.

By that point, club members were eager to join the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) and compete in their league but Bergamo had another team with similar ambitions, called Bergamasca, which had evolved from a club started by Swiss emigrants in 1904.

The FIGC would allow only one team from Bergamo to compete in their Prima Categoria, as their first division was then called. To decide which of them would represent the city, in 1919 a play-off was arranged, which Atalanta won 2-0.

In the event, the two clubs agreed to merge in 1920, forming a new club which at first was called Atalanta Bergamasca di Ginnastica e Scherma 1907, scherma being fencing. It was soon shortened to Atalanta Bergamasca Calcio, which remains its name today. 

The club now plays at the Gewiss Stadium on Viale Giulio Cesare in the northeast of the city, a short walk from the centre of the Città Bassa - the lower city - and visible in the panoramic view available from vantage points on the eastern side of the Città Alta.

The stadium has been their home since 1928. It was built during the Fascist era at a cost of 3.5 million lira and originally named Stadio Mario Brumana after a Fascist official, which was common practice with public buildings at the time.

Bergamo's 94-year-old stadium was given an impressive facelift with the Gewiss sponsorship
Bergamo's 94-year-old stadium was given an
impressive facelift with the Gewiss sponsorship
After the Fascist regime was overthrown in World War Two, the ground was renamed Stadio Communale and gradually expanded to allow more than 40,000 spectators to attend matches. It became the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia in 1994 and in 2019 adopted the Gewiss name after the club signed a sponsorship deal with the Swiss electronics company.

At the same time as Atalanta moved into the ground in 1928, the Italian championship was restructured with the top division renamed Serie A, as it is today.

Atalanta were initially placed in Serie B but within a decade had been promoted to Serie A. 

Atalanta have never won the Serie A, yet have the proud record of having spent 62 seasons in the top division, 28 in Serie B and only one in Serie C, which is the best record of any team not based in a regional capital.

The current team, managed since 2016 by Gian Piero Gasperini, are enjoying one of the most successful spells in the club’s history, having qualified for the Champions League three seasons in a row and twice reached the final of the Coppa Italia.

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Risotto alla Bergamasca

Cook this warming Bergamo speciality at home

My version of risotto alla bergamasca, made from ingredients you can buy at home
My version of risotto alla bergamasca, made
from ingredients you can buy at home
After an autumn walk amid the falling leaves along the Via delle Mura surrounding the Città Alta, what could be more welcome than a piping hot risotto in one of the restaurants in the upper town serving Bergamo specialities.

Over the years, I have enjoyed many different, delicious risotto dishes while on holiday in Bergamo. Rice, cooked and stirred with broth until it reaches a creamy consistency, is a classic of northern Italian cooking.

They can be incredibly simple dishes, but are delicious, even if they just contain onion, short grain rice, wine, chicken or vegetable stock, and parmigiano cheese. Add beef marrow to the mix and dissolve saffron in the stock and you have the famous risotto alla milanese, which dates back to the beginning of the 19th century.

I once discovered a recipe for a risotto made with onion, carrots, peas and zucchini that claimed to be risotto alla bergamasca and I featured it on this website in 2011.

But coincidentally, in 2010, the year before my post, Bergamo chef, restaurateur and hotelier Pino Capozzi had given to his beloved city something that Milan had been enjoying for 200 years - a risotto that they could call truly their own.

Most of the major supermarket chains stock Taleggio among their continental cheeses
Most of the major supermarket chains stock
Taleggio among their continental cheeses
In his recipe for risotto alla bergamasca, the star ingredients were local sausage - la salsiccia - or, in dialect, la loanghina - and Taleggio cheese. The wine poured on to the toasted grains of rice was, of course, my own personal favourite, Valcalepio Bianco.

Just as they had polenta alla bergamasca and casoncelli alla bergamasca, the proud city now had risotto alla bergamasca.

The recipe aimed to showcase the products that Bergamo is justifiably proud of: loanghina, the local sausage, Taleggio cheese, and Valcalepio Bianco wine. It was flavoured by the herb that you always see scattered on casoncelli - sometimes called casonsei - fresh sage.

The challenge for a fan of cucina bergamasca living in England, such as myself, was how to replicate the authentic flavours when trying out the recipe at home.

Taleggio cheese is sold by several of the major supermarket chains - mine came from Asda - and through research I discovered that Cumberland sausage was made to a recipe similar to that of loanghina. I also found that Pinot Grigio used some of the same grape varieties as Valcalepio Bianco. (Of course, I know Pinot Grigio doesn’t taste nearly as good, but sadly Valcalepio Bianco isn’t widely available in the UK!)

Valcalepio Bianco is the local white wine in Bergamo
Valcalepio Bianco is the
local white wine in Bergamo
Here then, is my anglicised version of Risotto alla Bergamasca for two people:


150 grams of risotto rice - Arborio or Carnaroli

40 grams of butter

100 grams of fresh Cumberland pork sausage, removed from its skin and formed into small balls

60 grams of Taleggio cheese cubed

a litre of vegetable or chicken broth

half a glass of white wine

a shallot

sage leaves

black pepper.


Fry the shallot in half of the butter in a large saucepan with a couple of sage leaves. When the shallot has softened and started to turn gold, remove the sage and add the sausage and fry for a couple of minutes. Then add the rice and toast it in the butter for a few minutes before pouring in the glass of white wine.

When the wine has evaporated, continue to cook the rice, while adding ladles of the hot broth.  When the rice has reached the perfect consistency, remove the pan from the heat and add the rest of the butter, a pinch of ground black pepper and the cubes of Taleggio. Serve on hot plates.

Buon appetito dall'Inghilterra!

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