Monday 9th April 2018
This morning we are waiting for the No.5 bus at the stop outside the Sosta and Cathy asked a young lady if we were in the right place for the bus in to Bergamo, she was very helpful, friendly and spoke good English, little did we know that we would need her help again later in 10 mins! Once on the bus you have to buy a ticket from the machine either cash or card but not from the driver, we tried to buy a ticket, but the machine didn’t work for us, the young lady helped us once again and as we tried to buy a ticket with her help, three bus ticket inspectors got on, the young lady said “you can get off quickly through the other door if you want to”. We said we are ok, no problem, the ticket inspector came along & our new friend explained that the machine isn’t working, and we had tried to pay! He quickly fixed the problem, he inserted a new till receipt roll in! Two tickets later and our friend explained where to alight and to catch bus no.1 for the Citta Alta (Upper town) and the funicular. Apparently, our bus ticket of €1.50 is valid on all city transport bus and tram and funicular for 75 mins from time of purchase!
It is only 40 minutes since leaving the site and we were stepping off the funicular at La Citta Alta we found the Tourist Information office & left with our obligatory maps, outside the tourist info is a board with free City Wifi, nice one, just log on , as we wandered up the hill and discovered the most wonderful shops selling what looks like the best food in the world, the Italians have a great knack of presenting food, drink and atmosphere through their windows and entrances…. Cathy loves looking at the range, variety and different styles & types of food, how it is made, presented & served, she was in element!
The weather was not good to us it was pouring with rain and we needed to escape, we were feeling a bit peckish, so it had to be coffee time but also with something to compliment it, how about some Arancini?
Well the Arancini were fantastic, neither Cathy or I have had Arancini before and we loved them! Arancini are soft rice balls with a lightly deep fried outer, the centres are filled with a variety of foods, Cathy’s was pistachio, mozzarella and blue cheese, mine was mozzarella and ham, gorgeous! the bill was only €9.50 for two coffees which were the best we’ve had so far (we love good coffee!) and two arancini’s, very reasonable. It’s called Il sole in Bocca, it was a tiny place with only 8 seats.
The rain has eased now as we go outside and make our way to Basilica Saint Marie Maggiore, OMG, forgive the pun! What a magnificent place, we were taken aback at its outstanding beauty, the vibrant colours, every inch decorated, the architecture, it was so beautiful, the photos might not show the detail, the work and craftmanship. We didn’t speak we were in awe. I had to sit down as I became emotional. We are not religious, but you cannot ignore the hidden history, the stories, the emotions, over thousands of years, we felt privileged to be here and having this experience. It has a Romanesque exterior with a Baroque interior and there were many relief sculptures on the ceiling.
Please zoom in to appreciate the beauty.
Apologies for so many pictures but I wanted to convey all its beauty. Parts of the Basilica dates from 5 AD
Once we caught our breath we visited the Duomo (cathedral) next door, all of the historic sites are within short walking directions inside the city walls.
The Duomo Di Begamo was not a disappointment in any way with its gold relief but after the extravagance and outstanding beauty of the Basilica maybe the Basilica should be visited at the end of your day. (it’s closed between 12 and 2pm)
The rain ceased, and the warm weather arrived, we wanted to walk the city walls which Unesco Heritage and are 16th Century built by Venetians on old roman foundations and off we go to find them. What an amazing place Bergamo is, whilst walking the walls we can see the creativity of using the surrounding land and the terracing is fantastic, maximum use and reward of their land, they even manage to squeeze a football pitch in! and the views down to Citta Bassa (lower town) are great with many street still covered in cobblestones.
There are many executive and exclusive properties can be seen from the highwalls with a backdrop of the mountains.
There’s no wonder the Italians love there their super mini cars here, the paths and roads are so narrow, but no they drive across and down them no bother! Sometimes we felt we were in the scene of Michael Cain’s Italian Job!
We head off down the hill to Bassa town leaving the marvelous old town behind, the walk was easy enough going down and pleasant with a warm breeze, now we are thirsty! We’ve walked and toured for 5 hours! We stop at a restaurant at the main boulevard with an outside area for patrons behind glass screens as the Europeans do so well! Two medium lagers please, they come with peanuts, olives and crisps, they are great at this aren’t they! They must put something on the snacks because the next thing we know we are ordering two Margarita pizzas and more lager! This is our first meal out since leaving home!
Pizzas were really good, crusty light thin dough base just how we like them. Paid up €31.50 And we walk to the tram station to catch one back to the site, the tram runs past the site as well, cost €1.30 each and only took 10 mins.
Well that was a brilliant day and one we will never forget, we can’t recommend Bergamo enough and we are glad we didn’t miss it.
Bergamo seems to be off the usual tourist trail and maybe it’s an overlooked area, we would recommend a visit to Bergamo.