With its wealth of medieval, Renaissance and baroque architecture, Bergamo is one of northern Italy’s most intriguing cities.
Actually, Bergamo comprises what are essentially two separate towns. The most interesting, by far, is its hilltop città alta (upper town), protected by more than 5km of heavy-duty walls. A funicular carries you from the western edge of the upper town up to the quaint quarter of San Vigilio. The walk to San Vigilio offers some stunning views. Down on the plain, the sprawling città bassa (lower town) is a mishmash of modern buildings and wide, traffic-filled streets.
Although Milan’s skyscrapers to the southwest are visible on a clear day, historically Bergamo was more closely associated with Venice, which was in control of the city for 350 years until Napoleon arrived. And despite its long domination by outsiders, Bergamo’s upper town has scarcely changed, retaining a strong sense of local identity.
The nearby Bergamo Alps have a handful of small ski resorts, as well as ice- and rock- climbing opportunities.
Last updated: Feb 17, 2009