The very likeable Bergamo consists of two parts – there are some interesting features in the lower part, but most visitors proceed directly to the Upper Town up on the cliffs. That portion of the city is on the tentative UNESCO list, although the fortifications are already part of an existing serial World Heritage site. Porta San Giacomo ♥ is as good a place as any to check out the fortifications and the vistas over the lower town.

Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore ♥♥♥ is one of the main attractions in Bergamo – opulently rich, almost excessively so, but fascinating to explore. Adjoining Capella Colleone ♥ features a very ornate exterior and nice but short of extraordinary interior. (No photo allowed inside the chapel).

By comparison, the nearby Duomo ♥♥ is practically understated, rather elegantly decorated, light and bright.

Campanone ♥♥ on the main square of the old town offers great views in all directions. Ascent to the second from top platform is by elevator. Bells hang right above the visitors’ heads on the top platform and do their thing at appropriate times – plan your ascent accordingly.

The tower ticket is combined with access to Palazzo de Podesta ♥ which has a very interesting interactive museum focused on the 16th century Venetian impact on Bergamo. There is English text on the stands in all rooms but exhibits themselves are all in Italian, which dulls the effect for non-speakers.

We bypassed a number of other lesser points of interest in favor of walking around town. Among them are Rocca, Museo della Citta, and Museo Donizetti. We did step into a couple of churches, such as a “borough” church of San Pancrazio ♥ that turned out much bigger and richer than expected from the outside.

If you happen to visit Bergamo during the winter festive season, leave some time for the lower city, which is where all of the Christmas markets are.

Places to eat

A random choice for lunch, Trattoria da Ornella ♥♥ offered us great local cooking, mostly Italian-speaking clientele, and very nice atmosphere. Our damage: €65 for two, with a small bottle of wine. Last visit: 2018.

We also randomly stopped for coffee at Tasso ♥ on the main square. The logo on the napkins has “da 1476” marker. Even before noon, an order of a prosecco was accompanied by a nice selection of cicchetti.

Other notes for Italy