History, Art, and Cuisine

Bergamo: An Idyllic Town In Italy’s Lombardy

Nicholas Sterling

This beautiful walled city boasts rich Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque architecture and charming cobbled streets. It is a haven of peace and tranquility for discerning travelers.

Lombardy, one of the most famous Italian regions, is located towards the north of the peninsula. The traveler will find cities such as Milan, Lecco, Como, Mantua, and Brescia. But if they are lucky, they will also run into a charming place of particular beauty and history: Bergamo, a magical and inspiring town that carefully maintains its Renaissance atmosphere.


Bergamo consists of two well-defined areas. The Città Bassa (Lower Town) is modern and located in the valley, and the Città Alta (Upper Town), sits atop a hill that can be accessed by road or funicular. The main monuments, palaces and attractions of the old Bergamo are located in the Upper Town.

A stroll through the Citta Alta—with its typical houses and monuments, and steeped in the light that filters through the buildings of Piazza Vecchia—can be sublime and inspirational. The views from the Civic Tower (Campagnone) and the Torre di Gombito are unparalleled. Nearby, you will also find the majestic Palazzo Della Ragione, one of the oldest and most beautiful mansions in Lombardy.


The Piazza del Duomo, with a 12th-century baptistery made with red marble from Verona, is a mandatory stop on your way to the Colleoni Chapel. The Chapel, a primary exponent of Renaissance architecture, is today the resting place of Bartolomeo Colleoni, a famous condottiere of Bergamo. Your stroll through town continues with a visit to the 12th-century Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, followed by San Vigilio Castle with its magnificent greenery conducive to pleasant evening walks overlooking the entire city.

Most of the ancient bakeries of the old town serve Bergamo’s typical treat: Polenta e Osei, prepared—since time immemorial—with eggs, honey, melted white chocolate and hazelnut paste.

The cuisine of Bergamo is broad and delicious. The visitor will find the finest examples in its traditional trattorias, where the cuisine of Central Europe is successfully combined with the best Italian fare, especially the pasta dishes.


The traditional Trattoria La Colombina, Via Borgo Canale 12, is a typically Italian restaurant with friendly and attentive service, where you can enjoy the best casoncelli in town. The casoncelli, the most typical pasta dish of Lombardy, is prepared with fresh pasta stuffed with meat—and in the hands of the cooks from Bergamo becomes a real culinary masterpiece.

There are splendid hotels in Bergamo, but the Relais San Lorenzo stands out for its luxury and its perfect location in Citta Alta. This five-star hotel boasts a spa, sophisticated suites, and an optimal cuisine.

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