If you’re not from Europe, chances are you’ve probably never heard of this city. And if you are European or living in Europe, you may only know of this place as a place to fly into when visiting Milan, especially for low-cost air carriers. BUT, I’m here to tell you that the little Italian city of Bergamo is an absolute gem and should not be missed if you are in the area. It is certainly worth exploring for a day or more and this spring we had a wonderful long weekend here checking out all this place has to offer.
What to Do//
1) Citta Alta
The main attraction of Bergamo is it’s old town, the Citta Alta. The Citta Alta (literally Upper Town because it’s on top of a hill), is surrounded by an ancient Venetian defensive system of walls. It has recently become a UNESCO world heritage sight and it’s easy to visit by taking the funicular up and strolling around.
There is a lot of beauty in the Citta Alta and once you get up the funicular, the main street leads to Piazza Vecchia, the town square. First on our agenda was to visit the Civic Tower for some incredible views. You get to the top by taking an elevator and some stairs, just try not to be at the top right on the hour because the giant bells up there are loud!
We were celebrating our oldest son’s 7th birthday over our weekend in Bergamo and although he wasn’t thrilled about a day of sightseeing, he was pretty stoked for all the pizza, pasta, and gelato that Italy has to offer! We also had some exciting bday plans for him on Saturday…keep reading for more on that!
The other highlight of the Citta Alta is the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. This stunning basilica was built during the Middle Ages but it was redecorated in Baroque style after it was completed.
The Citta Alta is a great place to have lunch, stroll around, and window shop (we’re always day dreaming of carbs ;))!
If you take the funicular up, it’s a good idea to walk down along the ancient Venetian walls to admire them up close and to check out the beautiful views of the city.
2) Explore the City
While the Citta Alta is certainly a charming place to spend a few hours, be sure you don’t miss the lower city in your exploring! We loved the vibe along with all the cafes, shops, and people out enjoying the day.
There was a great little playground downtown off one of the shopping streets…the entrance is hidden but you go in through the police station. Our boys are always thrilled to stop off at a local playground!
3) Take the Kids to Leolandia
A visit to the nearby theme park of Leolandia was high on our agenda for this weekend since we were celebrating our birthday boy. Geared for children age 10 and under, it’s only about 15 minutes from Bergamo and a fun place to spend the day. I’m not sure who had more fun-us or the kids! April was a great time to visit since there were no crowds…just note that they are only open on weekends until summer when they go to a daily schedule. Make sure you check the calendar and hours before you go! Maybe more interesting for the grown ups is the mini Italy they have created where you walk through a path filled with miniature creations of all the different areas of Italy.
Where to Eat//
Our favorite place from the weekend was a little cafe just across from the apartment we stayed in called L’Art Caffe. We love Italian coffee normally, but this place took it to a whole other level. They also had the most amazing brioches and a wonderful daily breakfast special.
Another restaurant we enjoyed was Trattoria Camozzi da Claudio…lots of seafood and homemade pasta. Yum!
I’m so glad we discovered this hidden gem. It’s definitely worth adding at least a day here to your itinerary if you are visiting Milan!