If You Are Lazy, Don’t Visit Bergamo, Italy!

The Upper Town of Bergamo, Italy.

The Upper Town of Bergamo, Italy.

While my wife was occupied with real estate, I was sent to explore a new destination: the city of Bergamo, Lombardy, Italy. My number one task was to stay there for ten days and to find out if this city is a comfortable place to live after retirement. The second task was to practice my Italian.

I started on the second one right after landing at Orio al Serio International Airport of Bergamo. An exit. A taxi stand. All the cars were white, new, and expensive. A taxi driver. Terribly excited, I went into battle. The following dialog was in Italian.

“Good day.”
“Good day.”
“Could you drive me to Casa Maria (House of Maria) in the Upper Town, please?”
“Address?” (It was a shock for me, he didn’t know this luxury villa which Irina booked for me!)
“Colle Aperto, 16.”
“Let’s go.”

All right. My first victory: I was understood by the Italian.

Casa Maria turned out to be just a two-room apartment in a five-storey building, but … it was beautiful. Clean and well-designed, it had everything necessary for an enjoyable stay, including a Beretta. No, there were no famous pistols and shotguns. It was an excellent air conditioning system for all the rooms simultaneously.

Giorgio, a young man who met me and showed the apartment, was demonstrating his knowledge of English while I demonstrated my Italian. Both of us got some practice and were happy. After a short tour of the apartment, I asked him where is the nearest supermarket, and got a slightly alarming answer. “There are no supermarkets nearby, but you will find several small shops over there, past the entrance to the Cittadella.”

The Old Square of Bergamo, Italy.

The Old Square of Bergamo, Italy.

In the Upper Town of Bergamo, Italy.

And I headed out to look for these shops to buy Mozzarella, Gorgonzola, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Parma ham, truffle cheese, spaghetti, wine…. This set was the third (private and secret) goal of my stay in Italy and the first reason why I agreed to this trip at all. I found them, all four, but Mozzarella, Gorgonzola, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and Parma ham were not sold there.

After dinner, I went to bed with oppressive thoughts: I was going to be forced to stay in the most expensive part of the city for ten days, and this without cheeses, which were my real purpose for visiting Bergamo. However, next morning, everything changed.

While having breakfast, I asked Google Maps, “Where is the nearest supermarket?” and saw an amazing word, “Carrefour.” This is a French hypermarket chain whose shops gave us enjoyable experiences in every European country where we could find them. Just 2.7 km from Casa Maria? Thirty-nine minutes by foot? Excellent! And I hit the road.

The stroll downhill was picturesque. Medieval walls of the Upper Town of Bergamo on the right and enormous green pastures with white horses and lovely donkeys on the left. Early morning. Mild sun. Blue sky. Warm weather. Singing birds. Happiness and euphoria.

The Upper Town of Bergamo, Italy.

As always, Carrefour didn’t let me down. I bought two bags of wine, cheeses, spaghetti, and ham, and only at the exit, realized that I had to carry all this weight UPHILL for almost three kilometers! Again I hit the road. The way back home was a little bit different. Blazing sun. Cloudless sky. Crazy heat. I, like a loaded mule, bleakly went up the hill. In an hour and a half (note: not half an hour), I was at home completely exhausted and with the feeling that I burned as many calories as I brought with me in these two grocery bags.

Do you remember the title of this post “If you are lazy, don’t visit Bergamo?” I repeated this tour to Carrefour every two days, and after ten days, my physical form was better than ever. I even lost a little weight on this cheese diet. It seems like the citizens of the Upper Town of Bergamo don’t need gyms, and I didn’t see any sport facility there.

Of course, I didn’t go only to Carrefour. The Upper Town of Bergamo is crowned with the castle of San Vigilio. In fact, this is the foundation of the castle with a tiny viewing area on it. In clear weather, you can see Milano and some neighbouring cities, and even Switzerland from there. The way to the castle is not easy, because you have to go always uphill, but if you are lazy, it’s possible to get there by the funicular from the Down Town area. The route from Casa Maria to this castle became my favorite: very intensive workout plus beautiful views of Bergamo.

A villa in the Upper Town of Bergamo, Italy.

A villa in the Upper Town of Bergamo, Italy.

The castle of San Vigilio, Bergamo, Italy.

The castle of San Vigilio, Bergamo, Italy.

There is the main street in the old city, via Bartolomeo Colleoni. Don’t confuse it with Don Corleone. Bartolomeo Colleoni (1400-1475) was an Italian mercenary who served Venice, then Milano, then again Venice, and again Milano. In short, he killed people for money for those who pay more. Apparently, he did it so successfully that he made a bunch of money which allowed him to buy and restore the castle of Malpaga in the province of Bergamo.

Moreover, after his death, his money was used for construction of the magnificent mortuary chapel, the Cappella Colleoni, in Bergamo with his gold equestrian statue inside, and for the creation of an equestrian statue (in bronze) of himself in Venice. The last was placed near the Scuola Grande of St Mark outside the Church of SS Giovanni e Paolo. Another of his statues (of course, equestrian) is located at Lotników Square, Szczecin, Poland. I’ve no idea why. Clearly, all the employers were satisfied with his service.

Cappella Colleoni, Bergamo, Italy.

Cappella Colleoni, Bergamo, Italy.

Cappella Colleoni, Bergamo, Italy.

In the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, notice the Baroque confessional carved by Andrea Fantoni. It’s just amazing! The filigree work. The tomb of the composer Gaetano Donizetti made by Vincenzo Vela is located next to it.

A Baroque confessional carved by Andrea Fantoni, the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, Bergamo, Italy.

A Baroque confessional carved by Andrea Fantoni, the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, Bergamo, Italy.

A fragment of the Baroque confessional carved by Andrea Fantoni, the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, Bergamo, Italy.

A fragment of the confessional.

In the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, Bergamo, Italy.

In the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore.

Battistero. The Upper Town of Bergamo, Italy.

Battistero. The Upper Town of Bergamo, Italy.

The second castle of Bergamo, Rocca di Bergamo, is a real fortress which hosts the Historical Museum of Bergamo inside and the open air military museum in its garden.

Rocca di Bergamo, Italy.

Rocca di Bergamo, Italy.

Beautiful view of Bergamo from Rocca di Bergamo, Italy.

If you love art, you might know that Lorenzo Lotto, the famous Renaissance artist, lived in Bergamo for twelve years. The Venetian master created some wonderful frescos in the church of San Michele al Pozzo Bianco. The church is still there. You will find it at Via Porta Dipinta, 45. These frescoes are the most ancient in Bergamo’s territory. The cycle of frescoes on the left wall of the chapel (unfortunately just remnants of them) depicts the Episodes of Mary’s Life and was painted in 1525.

The church of San Michele al Pozzo Bianco, Bergamo, Italy.

The church of San Michele al Pozzo Bianco, Bergamo, Italy.

Frescos of the church of San Michele al Pozzo Bianco, Bergamo, Italy.

Frescos of the church of San Michele al Pozzo Bianco, Bergamo, Italy.

And, at last, walls. Oh, these mighty Venetian Walls of Bergamo: fourteen bastions, two platforms, 100 embrasures for cannons, two armories, four gates, underground passages and tunnels. When the Venetians were building them, they were forced to destroy more than 250 buildings. Fortunately for us, the walls never underwent any siege and remained almost intact to the present day. Their length is six kilometers. One more route for fans of hiking, jogging, and strolling, as well as robust fortifications, beautiful sunsets and magnificent views.

The Venetian Walls of Bergamo, Italy.

The Venetian Walls of Bergamo, Italy.

The Venetian Walls with San Giacomo Gate, Bergamo, Italy.

The Venetian Walls with San Giacomo Gate, Bergamo, Italy.

Beautiful and sorrowful angel near Chiesa di San Salvatore, Bergamo, Italy.

Beautiful and sorrowful angel near Chiesa di San Salvatore, Bergamo, Italy.

An old villa in Bergamo, Italy.

More about Italy:

Hadrian’s Villa, Villa d’Este, and Tivoli are Three Different Planets! The Last is the Worst!
What to See in Rome?! Are You Serious?
What to Visit: Naples in Italy or Naples in Florida?

34 Responses to “If You Are Lazy, Don’t Visit Bergamo, Italy!”

  1. Ana Daksina Says:

    Beautiful as well as entertaining! Reblogging to my sister site Timeless Wisdoms

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Andrew Petcher Says:

    Looks like a fine place. We went to Milan recently but didn’t get to Bergamo, maybe we should have!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jeff Says:

    What if you’re not lazy — will it make you lazy? Ha!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. wordsfromanneli Says:

    What a beautiful place this is. I can just feel the warmth and freshness of a morning in Bergamo. Very informative post and, of course, the photos are the usual enticement to visit Italy.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sue Says:

    Bergamo looks beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Heide Says:

    I learn more from your posts than from any guidebook, Victor — and you sure make me laugh a lot, too! That walk uphill with the first batch of cheese and wine did sound brutal, but I am so impressed with you for making it all the way home! (In your shoes, I may have found shade under a tree somewhere and consumed a bottle of wine and half the cheese … you know, to lighten the load.) As always, your photos are beautiful too. What a treasure of a post!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Paul Gale Says:

    You remind me of my trips to Europe, and make me desperate to return. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Balaka Says:

    I was recently in Italy and could relate to this post. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. a mindful traveler Says:

    Bergamo Old City is a beautiful place to explore.
    And you’re right Victor, isn’t Carrefour just the best?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Debra Kolkka Says:

    We visited Bergamo many years ago and loved it…time to go back.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Awa on the Road Says:

    I was in Bergamo once, for 2 days. I like this city very much. Tiny, but packed with old buildings and secret corners. I walked it through several times 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. thewsmblog Says:

    beautiful photos, and i like your humor!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. restlessjo Says:

    I love cheese so I’m sure your trips were well worthwhile, Victor. It looks a beautiful place too 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. sharonsiconictravelphotographyblog Says:

    Beautiful photos and great commentary.

    Liked by 1 person


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