And so, after two months spent in the, what was supposed to be, summery Ireland, it was time for our real Summer. The fact that it started on 15 September and that we had to fly to Sicily to get it didn’t bother us at all…
We have been in Sicily years ago, but only for a day and to Mount Etna and Taormina and Palermo was in our to do list for a long time. Because of the unpleasant lack of direct flights from Sofia we had to make it with stopover. I don’t know if you have read any posts in my blog, but I only recently started to use this type of flying and I’m really not against it. Of course, it’s essential to leave enough time between your flights so you wouldn’t have to trouble yourself in the beginning of your holiday…
And so, it was time for our flight, in the morning from Sofia to Bergamo, an airport, advertised as a Milan one. We flew with Ryanair and everything was painfully known as we had returned from Ireland and Scotland only a week ago 🙂
The flight was smooth, we even arrived early and the only thing left at us was a little logistic and the promise of a gorgeous pizza we just have to try.
We were carrying only a small suitcase and two backpacks but had no intention to have them with us in the Bergamo’s old city and wanted to leave them at the airport. It’s really important to tell you about this procedure, if anyone else would like to do the same, as it turned out not very easy.
Bergamo isn’t a big airport and after your landing, passport check and entering the arrivals hall you have to go left to the Autostradale counter. There you should pay a fee for your luggage, 5 euro per day, per item, no matter if a suitcase or a backpack. Here’s the tricky part – you must get a receipt and go in front of the airport, go through the bus parking and with a little help from few helpful people to find the luggage storage. Here’s a link for the exact place so you wouldn’t have to wonder and waste time as we did 🙂
Now we only had to get to bus No1 going to the Old town. It’s stop is easy to find, all the bus stand are numbered and visible. You can buy tickets inside the bus or from a machine at the bus stop. The price is 2.40 euro in one way, 5 euro per 24 hours. Here you can find more information about tickets, timetable and routes.
You can see the Old town from the airport as it rules the surrounding from the hill it stands on. The bus gets you as high as the center but you have the opportunity to get at one of the lowest stops and get the funicular to the top. We didn’t have time or desire to do it, not to mention the huge queue gathered there.
Bergamo is a unique city located in the Lombardy region of Northern Italy and is characterized by its split lower and upper sections that are segregated by the immense historic Venetian walls. With a population of 120,000, this city is the fourth largest in the region.
During the Middle Ages, Bergamo served as the seat of the Lombard Duchies and became a city of immense wealth due to the vast treasures stored there. As an independent city, Bergamo was part of the Lombard League and raised armies to fight against Frederick I Barbarossa in the 12th century. During the 19th century, the city actually became part of the Austrian Empire before integrating into the Kingdom of Italy.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Bergamo:
Piazza Vechia is one of the main attractions in the historic upper city and is a fantastic place to start your tour of Bergamo after taking the funicular.
Surrounding the Piazza Vecchia is a series of beautiful buildings including the Campanone Torre Civica, the gorgeous Palazzo della Ragione, and the central decorative fountain.
Just a few metres away is a pizza place that I’ve heard so much about that we just had to visit. It is more a take away place than a restaurant, but to my opinion it was perfect. There was an impressive amount of different tastes also plenty of seats to sit. The name is Il Fornaio, here’s it’s location.
To the south of the Piazza Vecchi, through a small ornate archway is the fantastic Basilica of St. Mary Major. Originally constructed in the early 12th century, the basilica was not completed until the 14th century due to the churches financial problems. The front facade of the church features a plethora of decoration and above a huge central opulent window is a 3D cube design made from polychrome marble. Furthermore, the church features two decorative porches that contain marble arches and detailed statues of various Italian saints. Inside the basilica, you will be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of detail and decoration and the ceiling and arches are covered with gold and colourful frescos.
Fixed to the right hand side of the Basilica is the Colleoni Chapel which is dedicated to Mark, John the Baptist and Bartholomew. This chapel was a later addition to the Basilica and was built after it’s completion. The front facade of the chapel is truly magnificent and features a series of polychrome decorations in both cream and pink hues. Crowning the chapel is a large dome that is topped with a hexagonal spire. Inside the chapel is the sacred altar dedicated to the three apostles and features their statues together with various opulent religious iconography.
The final structure of note in the grounds of the Basilica of St. Mary Major is the unique Baptistery. This strange structure sits just to the north of the Basilica and features an octagonal shape. It is strange due to this design feature as it wasn’t a common element for buildings of this period. Furthermore, the baptistery was actually located inside the cathedral of Bergamo, but was moved outside in 1659. The fantastic design of this structure is quite impressive and inside the baptistery is a series of religious bas-reliefs that represent the Life of Christ.
The old city of Bergamo is surrounded by a series of amazing venetian walls, and there are several gates that stand today in fantastic condition despite their age. The most notable of these gates is the Porta San Giacomo – this dazzling white rosewood marble gatehouse was constructed in the 16th century and stood as part of the cities defensive walls. Divided by a series of ornate columns, the gate is truly impressive and stands as a testament to the cities historical influence. Walking up to the gate along the arched walkway you can look out towards the modern city of Bergamo and to the wider countryside.
Of course, besides them, you can visit galleries, museums and more sites, but we just hadn’t more time. Honestly, I don’t think that Bergamo deserves a trip just for itself, but it was perfect for a stopover between two flights 🙂 Now we had to get the airport with bus No1 again and to wait impatiently for our flight.
I’m finishing this diary here because the rest of our holiday was in Sicily, where every place and rock deserves it’s own travel diary!
Stay tuned and don’t forget to travel!