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.
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.
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.
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.