Città Bassa
Bergamo,  Italy

A day in Bergamo: the best alternative to world-famous Milan

Recognized internationally as Italy‘s fashion capital, Milan is one of the mainstream destinations for millions of tourists each year. Attracted by the fame of the city, many simply stop there and don’t venture to explore the many picturesque towns that lie not too far from one of Italy’s most bustling cities. Among these is Bergamo, a charming medieval town where you can certainly feel and experience Italy’s old history. Spending a day in Bergamo is most definitely one of the best alternatives to a more crowded and chaotic Milan.

The magic of Bergamo

View of Città Bassa

Once the most western outpost of the Republic of Venice, Bergamo is today a dynamic town that has expanded on two levels, the more modern ‘Città Bassa’, and the town’s historical heart known as ‘Città Alta’.

Città Bassa

View of Città Alta

Even though it still treasures several historic sites and buildings, Città Bassa is the urban and energetic part of Bergamo. It flourished between the 19th and early 20th century along the main roads that connect the upper side of the town to the surrounding areas.

Sentierone
Sentierone

Today, Città Bassa is a great spot to go shopping and meet up with friends. Indeed, seasonal market stands and several other events often liven up the area between Porta Nuova, the famous Sentierone and the shopping street Via XX Settembre.

Via XX Settembre
Via XX Settembre

Enjoy the charming view of the many narrow streets where some of the most trendy boutiques and shops are lined up! Also, don’t forget to experience the Italian way. Have an espresso on the go or sit for a tasty aperitivo in one of the several cafes and bars you encounter.

Città Alta

Città Alta town walls

Without any doubt, the most magical part of Bergamo is its historical town center, Città Alta. Guarding over the entire town from the top of a hill, Città Alta is a perfectly preserved medieval hamlet that has been left untouched by time.

You can reach Città Alta by a Funicular railway service. But my advice is to take your time to walk up the path that leads to Porta San Giacomo, one of the gates to the majestic town walls. Look for Via Salita Della Scaletta or Via Sant’ Alessandro. This way, you’ll take in the stunning view over Città Bassa!

Via Sant' Alessandro
Walking up Via Sant’ Alessandro

Once you’ve reached Città Alta, there’s plenty you can do and see. For example, you can visit the famous Rocca, a stronghold dating back to the 14th century, or the beautiful Bergamo Cathedral, located in Piazza Duomo. Or you can just stroll around the many picturesque tiny alleys. A must-see is certainly Piazza Vecchia, the heart of Città Alta and a cluster of history and charming architecture.

Città Alta
Piazza Mercato delle Scarpe

Also, don’t forget to get a taste of Italian famous ‘stracciatella‘ gelato (milk-based ice cream filled with shavings of chocolate). This delicacy was originally created in Città Alta at ‘La Marianna’, a renowned local restaurant, cafe, and patisserie. So, why not taste the original one right there?

Castello di San Vigilio

View of Città Alta from San Vigilio

If you still have time, make sure to visit San Vigilio Castle. The ruins of the castle overlook the beautiful Città Alta from San Vigilio hill. You can reach the castle by San Vigilio funicular, which is located behind La Marianna cafe. Alternatively, you can take a 15-minute walk up the hill. What awaits you, once at the top, is a breathtaking view which, on sunny days, extends to the Orobie Pre-alps.

View of Città Alta from San Vigilio
View of Città Alta from San Vigilio

Are you ready to enjoy a day in Bergamo?

Feel free to drop a comment if you have any questions or would like to share your experience!

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