Alternative sightseeing in Bergamo #1
A guide to the city's hidden spots
Whenever I visit a new city, whether on a day out in Italy or a trip abroad, the first thing I scour
travel blogs and Pinterest for are suggestions for alternative destinations that are off the beaten
I love hidden alleys and breathtaking views, palazzos that only open once a year or artists’ houses.
Did you know that Bergamo is full of interesting alternative sights that are far from the crowds? Sure, Piazza Vecchia is always stunning and the Colleoni Chapel on a sunny day is almost bewitching in its beauty, but we know you’ll go there anyway! You’ll get there without the help of Google and it will be amazing, of course! But our city is so much more! There are piazzas and back streets that you’ve never heard of, each bursting with stories, fun facts and anecdotes.
So, this is our brand-new column, in which we will be recommending places (highly Instagrammable places, I should mention) across the city for magical new adventures. What are you waiting for? Open your Bergamo City Kiwi map and drop pins in these locations straight away!
THE GOMBITO TOWER
Planning a long weekend in Bergamo? Staying Monday as well? Then you absolutely have to visit the Città Alta Tourist Office at the Gombito Tower (between Via Gombito and Via Mario Lupo – you can’t miss it) and book a visit to the tower for Monday. The view is incredible: you’ll be able to look into courtyards that can’t be seen from street level, gaze at the peaks of our Alpine foothills and breathe in the fresh air!
Visits must be booked beforehand and small groups will be accompanied by an excellent guide who will tell you all about the history of Bergamo and the Gombito Tower as you climb (on foot only!) before giving you plenty of time to enjoy a panoramic view over the Upper Town.
At the end of your visit, don’t miss the little piazza with the hold wash house and sneak a peek at the beautiful GombitHotel, a design hotel located in what was the ancient residence of the Gombito family during the Middle Ages.
The tower is open in spring and summer but opening times are still TBC. I recommend asking for more info at the Città Alta Tourist Office.
A STROLL ALONG VIA VALVERDE
Historic Bergamo has remained unchanged because it was built on a hill, meaning it didn’t get absorbed by the modern city as it developed into what is now known as the Lower City. There are plenty of stairways, narrow streets and roads that will take you up to the Upper City on foot, enjoying stunning views along the way.
My favourite route is, without a doubt, Via Valverde. Its name translates as green valley and you’ll see why! It is a gently sloping path that immediately gives fantastic views of the city skyline as you cross a green valley with very few buildings.
Don’t get dehydrated on your way to the top! I recommend a pitstop at Fiorista Valverde, one of the most best shops in the neighbourhood: two sisters run the store opened by their father and stock a wonderful range of flowers, fruit, vegetables and keepsakes. It’s a little cave of wonders that you cannot miss!
A VIEW OVER THE RED LIGHT DISTRICT
Yes, even the very religious city of Bergamo still shows traces of what used to be a Red Light District!
Just around the corner from Via del Vàgine (seriously!), a yellow building (the colour of sin) can be seen in all its glory from the terrace of Piazza Mercato del Fieno. The Upper City brothel was located just behind Piazza Vecchia and certain architectural details performed a specific function: have you noticed the beautiful chimneys on the roof? Each more unique than the last, they were each connected to a room in the building and if a chimney was smoking it meant that business was underway in that room!
Take a few snaps and then head to the former Convent of San Francesco, one of the most enchanting places in the city, with th Museum Museo delle storie di Bergamo.
THE VENETIAN HOUSE
Can’t get enough of Venice? Then while in Bergamo, be sure to take in a couple of details that have remained from the long Venetian domination. You must have already walked around the city walls and you will have spotted the winged lions, symbol of the Floating City, here and there around the city, but have you ever noticed the windows of Casa Bottani?
We’re on Via del Gombito, known as La Corsarola to Bergamo locals, and the Bottani residence is at number 26. The Bottanis were a wealthy Renaissance family who did business with Venice. To show off their wealth and economic might, they covered the façade of their home with frescoes, crests and views of the lagoon (which have sadly almost completely disappeared).
They also installed distinctive trilobate windows that are very reminiscent of Venetian houses.
WHO AM I?
My name is Nadia and I am a Bergamo City Guide. I like to call myself a guide for travellers rather than a tourist guide because I think that travellers have more respect for the places they visit, they tiptoe around the cities they visit and are curious and passionate about travel!
Find me online (Facebook e Instagram) as LA MARGÌ, it’s the name of a famous Bergamasco card game that I used to play with my granny (she always cheated!).
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