Streets centuries old

Bergamo – Italy’s Most Underrated City

I played with various options for the title of this post, ranging from “Italy’s Most Hidden Treasure” to “Italy’s Best Kept Secret”.  Really, any of those title would be apropos.   Bergamo is all of those things and so much more.  Ultimately, I went with “most underrated” because it seems that most people would rather bypass this northern Italian city for the sexier Venice, Florence or Rome.  Heck, even neighboring Verona pulls more visitors than Bergamo.  As a matter of fact, I had never even heard of Bergamo until I moved here and I had visited nearby Como plenty of times leading up to this adventure.

Città Bassa in Bergamo
Città Bassa in Bergamo

Getting to know Bergamo was truly a blessing, because it is the type of place that we will continue to visit over and over.  The distinguishing feature of Bergamo is that it is really two cities in one.  There is the older, medieval city at the top of the hill (Città Alta) and the much more modern city (Città Bassa) below.  Incidentally, I use the term “modern city” quite loosely… most notable development is still several hundred years old.

Julia enjoyed her day in Bergamo
Julia enjoyed her day in Bergamo
The older city at the top of the hill
The older city at the top of the hill
Secured roads allowed access into the ancient city
Secured roads allowed access into the ancient city
The view from atop the hill extends for miles
The view from atop the hill extends for miles
Julia enjoyed soaking it all in
Julia enjoyed soaking it all in
More views...
More views…
The main city gate, flanked by the Venetian lions from the time of Venetian rule
The main city gate, marked with the winged Venetian lion from the time Venetians ruled the city

On our first visit well over a year ago, we were drawn toward Città Alta.  We spent most of our day wandering the cobblestone streets, soaking up the magical views the high city extends before you.  We had been dying to come back to Bergamo and finally got the opportunity when Jen’s sister came to visit with Matt (first post HERE).  I thought the mixture of old and new would be something unique for them to see, and the hour(ish) car ride from our home would allow an easy day trip.  We loaded our car and headed east toward the city.  Our first step was to ascend the hill toward Città Alta (also known as Città Vecchio or Old City) by means of finiculare (cable car).  We had researched a good lunch place and in no time, we found ourselves settled outside on the patio of La Tana.  After lunch, we spent quite a bit of time wandering around the cobblestone streets and settled in among the other tourists and locals in the centro (center) of town.

Streets centuries old
Streets centuries old
One of the churches in the main piazza
One of the churches in the main piazza
Just outside the main piazza
Just outside the main piazza
Julia with a statue of a marble lion
Julia with a statue of a marble lion
La Tana - a fabulous restaurant
La Tana – a fabulous restaurant
Jen's sister, Jessica with Julia
Jen’s sister, Jessica with Julia
The waiter recommended a fabulous beer, produced locally.  I'm still searching for where it's sold
The waiter recommended a fabulous beer, produced locally. I’m still searching for where it’s sold

Eventually we descended to Città Bassa with plenty of daylight still above us.  This gave us a perfect opportunity to enjoy an aperitivo (or two) in the sun.  With our thirst quenched, we continued our tour of the lower city.  This was the first time that Jen and I spent any notable amount of time down below and we were thrilled with what we discovered.  The much more modern, lower city is just as special as the ancient city above.

We stopped for happy hour
We stopped for happy hour
The lower city has a charm that rivals the higher city
The lower city has a charm that rivals the higher city
The streets are full of shops and caffès
The streets are full of shops and caffès
Church tower in Città Bassa
Church tower in Città Bassa

My only regret is that my photos don’t do this special city justice.  I urge you to spend a full day exploring Bergamo and come discover for yourself why this is Italy’s “most underrated city”.Sipping Espresso Logo

Trieste... Italy's Most "European" City
Mercatone dell'Antiquariato - Milan's Outdoor Antique Market

5 thoughts on “Bergamo – Italy’s Most Underrated City”

  1. Bergamo sounds stunning Greg. I’ve printed out your article to read fully when I have the chance, but from what I’ve just skimmed through – this is my kinda town! I love your photos. I’ll be adding Bergamo to my list.

    1. Cheryl, so glad that you liked the post. Take my word for it – Bergamo is great. Be sure to budget a full day and spend time in both cities. You’ll really love it!

  2. I found your blog over on the expats blog site and this post immediately caught my eye as I am lucky enough to live just outside Bergamo. Citta Alta is without doubt one of the most beautiful places i have ever seen and the piazzas of Citta Bassa are the perfect place to enjoy an apperitivo. My sister tells everyone that will listen to come and visit but i keep telling her so sssshhhhh as I selfishly love the fact that not too many know of it’s existence…it adds to it’s charm!

    1. You could not be more right about Bergamo. My favorite places in Italy are the undiscovered gems. You’re in a great location in Italy – we just love this area. Glad you found the blog, I hope that you enjoy it. I’ll look to see if you also have a blog on expats site. Cheers (as you Brits might say)! :-)

  3. Hey I found you on the expats blog too :)
    But I must say I don’t agree with the title you chose, at least in northern Italy Bergamo is very well considered by italian travelers, considering also that it’s surrounded by bigger and more famous cities like Milan, Verona and the same Como.
    For sure it’s underrated and not well known abroad, but I have read of many tourists who “discovered” Bergamo, while there are some places literally forgotten by tourism that would really hit you!
    If you want you can have a look at my website or my new blog (http://gaddersblog.blogspot.com) where I’m trying to give visibility to all the beautiful places around Italy! Maybe you’ll take inspiration for when you will come back here 😉

Please let me know your thoughts!