Bergamo, day 2

Wednesday 11th April 2018

Dave posting,

We intended to go back into Bergamo this morning as we loved it, the weather is not looking so good though.

We have been away on the road now for 3 weeks it really is time to do some housework in and around the van. We have been meaning to do the cleaning, sweeping and dusting for about a week now, so today is the day. We work well as a team, we’ve settled in to blue and pink jobs! I wash the windscreen and the whole cab area inside. Cathy did the kitchen, work surfaces, bathroom,  Last was the removeable carpets that came out for a beating! A blue job!

Well what a friendly bunch motorhomers are! We have noticed the comradery amongst you, there is always someone to help or advise you. Often conversations start that lead to interesting details and information about places you intend to visit or have been. We met a New Zealand couple who surprised us as we thought they were Italian, he really liked our van and came to take a look.

We don’t always have a plan of what to do or where to go, sometimes we get up &chat and then decide, we follow our instinct and feelings about what we want to do next.

Lake Garda and Venice were always a plan though, checked the weather forecast, urmmm rain and cloud for the next 3 days at least around Garda, let’s go there when the weather improves. We feel the need to move on, so we take a chance and drive to Lake Iseo to find a free wild spot near there. We found it okay but now it’s a supermarket! Oh, we stopped for a while, drove around the area looking for a suitable spot, no joy though. Back to the supermarket to buy a small amount of fresh groceries. Next we had lunch whilst we researched where to go, the heavens open and it’s raining heavily now, spent a couple of hours in the car park, doesn’t matter a lot when it’s raining!

Let’s go to Brescia it’s not far away, we head there hoping to use a free overnight stop. We find the “listed spot” next to the Prison (might be safe!) but it doesn’t feel right, not enough length available to park, it’s close to permit parking for cars, it’s not level with both left hand side tyres in the gutter giving us a lob sided fell, can’t use the chocks as the tarmac and grass shoulder is too rough.

We rested for 10 mins and chose the cheapest paid for site nearest to us, it’s 7.15pm now and we just want a place for the night. Cathy found one 5kms away, Ristorante Cascina Maggia, it’s a farm/restaurant with camper car facilities, €15 including electric hook up. 10 mins later we are there, plugged in and set up. We go back to reception and ask if the bar is open, we need a drink! “no, sorry, not open on Mon, Tue & Wed” Anywhere nearby ? “Yes, 500 m that way!” Off we go on foot to find it, we find a bar near a fairground Called L’Old Roger, it looks like an English pub abroad but there’s nothing else that’s open or near, we go in and ask do you do food? Yes, we are shown to a table, it’s quite busy as well with a good atmosphere, it feels friendly, it’s warm and we feel comfortable, we order food and drink. One beer, one wine and two burgers…unbelievable burgers, Cathy was Iberico ham (200gr) brie, smoked bacon and caramelised onion, mine was 400gr irish steak, bbq sauce, cheese, smoked crispy bacon, the buns were perfect for the burgers, like a soft shell with crunchy seeds and not too doughy inside. Cathy was disgusted at my 400g! she says she makes chilli for 4 people with that much beef! mmmm! but it went down very nicely.


Beer, burgers and football


It’s getting busy now, the atmosphere is ramping up, the Italians are watching and supporting Roma in the Champions League quarter finals and they are beating Barcelona, they get a little nervous as the final whistle approaches, great atmosphere in here tonight!

Cathy’s beer she described as “smoky” I tried it but I didn’t like it! It’s our second meal out in 19 days and it was great, Cathy never orders burgers but this menu had to be tried! and she reported back that if all burgers were like that shed have one more often.

(sorry not many photos!)



Bergamo – an undiscovered gem

Monday 9th April 2018

Dave posting,

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 her 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?

Bergamo Food & Drink (4)Bergamo Food & Drink (6)Bergamo Food & Drink (8)

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.

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Basilica entrance on the left

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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.

Bergamo Duomo (9)


Bergamo Duomo (10)

Duomo ceiling

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Duomo ceiling

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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 are 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.

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Bergamo City Walls (7)Bergamo City Walls (13)

Bergamo City Walls (10)

A triangle football pitch!

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!

Bergamo Food & Drink (3)

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.


What did she say?


Sunday 8th April 2018

Cathy posting,

Up early and went for a 6.5k walk along the riverside and into the village near the sosta. It’s a pleasant enough place with lots of people cycling, running, walking, jogging and fishing, strange thing that we noticed in Italy is lots of people exercise and yet there are cigarette machines at the side of the road & near car parks, it’s an odd contrast.

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There are many small holdings very close to residential properties


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Cathy loved this rose tree

We are surrounded on three sides by huge tall mountains making us feel like we are in the bottom of a bowl.

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Surrounded by mountains in Chiavenna

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Chiavenna (3)

Lots of old style alpine roofs, the stones are holding the slates down

We had a nice chill out after lunch, did some blogging, the usual van services, water etc and set off. We had decided upon Bergamo, the research suggests it’s an amazing city with loads of history, wonderful views from the Venetian city walls from 16th Century, we fancy a bit of that.

Chiavenna (1)

We got stuck behind this chap for miles! (Piaggio)

Travelled on the SS36 road which is basically a motorway through tunnels alongside the east side of Lake Como, the tunnels were not very pleasant to drive through, every now and then there was a view but before you could say ”Bob’s your uncle” we were thrown into darkness again!

Whilst driving along it dawns upon Dave that the numbers on the speed sign i.e. 90 is the minimum speed that the Italians think they can drive at! There were some scary moments and the air was a little blue!

We’ve noticed the Italian roads are a bit rough compared to Switzerland & Germany, it’s a game of dodging the potholes, from Lecco at the Sothern end of Como it was a horrible drive to Bergamo, roundabout after roundabout every kilometre for many kilometres.

Sat Naff can’t speak French very well, she doesn’t have any German or Swiss either and she most definitely can’t speak Italian! (apologies for the lack of focus on the video)

We were going to stay at a free car park but when we got there we didn’t like the feel of it being on a corner of two busy roads, also we’d located a campsite just 4 kms outside of Bergamo centre, for €18 per night plus it has a bus and tram stop right outside the gate for Bergamo.

We arrive late just before 8pm and it’s not busy, so pick your spot.

We tried to ask questions of the lady who runs the site and we’ve had success with google translate however tiredness and not having reading glasses on again and I managed to communicate with her in Romanian, no wonder she looked confused!

Gnocchi and pesto for tea and the evening was spent researching Bergamo.