My first time in Northern Italy. Bergamo is right next to Milan, about 51 kilometres. In fact, there are buses right from Bergamo airport. I decided to see Milan another time and took a bus to Bergamo central station. It was just twenty minutes or so. The airport is quite close. So close that I even walked back there from the center on the day I left back to Bulgaria.
The center of Bergamo has two parts. the Città Bassa (Lower City) is where the central station is. I should have stayed on the bus because I suspected it continued to the Città Alta (Upper City). Either way, I walked there and then even a bit farther. My hotel was Casa dei Fiori, about a twenty minute walk from the Upper City and certainly forty-five minutes from the Lower City. The hotel was good albeit quite far from the city, a steep walk uphill. The service was good and so was the room. It was a quiet place to stay, exactly what I was looking for. From the hotel, there's a bus connection with the Lower City and the Upper City is easiest reached by foot.
Bergamo is a pretty town. Often overlooked because most tourists visit Milan. The center was quiet in December - all nicely decorated for Christmas. In the Upper City I loved the narrow streets and cosy bars and restaurants. Then there's the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore - just stunning. I'm quite sure it's one of the most beautiful buildings I've seen. The frescoes inside are worth staring at until your neck hurts from looking up. The Duomo, right next door, is less richly decorated but beautiful in its own way.
The Lower City had a Christmas market, right in the street in front of the central station. The Upper and Lower City have a funicular going inbetween them. It leaves frequently and cost about 1,30EUR one way as per 2017. Just the ride and the view are a cool experience. In this time of year they sold mulled wine, 'vino brule'. Then I also enjoyed some good coffees and even a ceremony with good instrumental and vocal music in the Santa Maria Immacolata delle Grazie church. I stayed only for one night and certainly would have loved to see more around Bergamo. I'll be back - it's a great city for a quick break. Very central in Europe as well. I recommend seeing it before Christmas, the atmosphere was great. If you want to see the Garda and Como lakes, pick another season with a lower chance of rain/snow.
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