Until a month ago I had never heard of the picturesque mountain town of Bergamo, just 30 miles north of Milan.
This cosy and cultural walled city at the foothills of the alps is one of Italy’s best kept secrets. Too often people land at it’s airport to quickly leave for the fashion and food capital of Italy, Milan.
From the streets of the Citta Bassa, the new town square, you can see the towers, domes and walls of the historic Citta Alta, the old fortified town nestled up on the mountains within ancient venetian walls.
You can get from the airport to the city centre on a local bus which costs just two euros a ticket. Get off at the funicular railway stop and ride the small cable car up the mountain to make your way through the city gates into the winding streets of the old town. For people who have been to Venice, Bergamo will feel very similar, if you replace the canals with lush green scenery. The buildings are colourful, historic and the cobbled streets are lined with incredible restaurants, designer clothing stores and art galleries. A nod to the cities rich art and musical heritage.
For the foodies, Bergamo is a dream. Each medieval winding road is filled with bakeries, butchers and gelato stores. Our personal favourite was the Il Fornaio Pizza and Pasta store on the main street of Citta Alta. I personally would recommend the Tortillini with Ragu which you could take away and enjoy in the main square as you listened to music and people watched throughout your lunch.
For evening meals, Da Mimmo is a restaurant which goes above and beyond. From complimentary Prosecco on arrival, well priced local Lombardy red wines and delicious evening meals including the famous local delicacy of rabbit and sage pasta. We were so taken with this eatery we had to force ourselves to try somewhere new on the second night, even though we were hugely tempted to return!
We stayed out of the old town in a little village 3km from the Citta Alta, which meant we could traverse on foot up the steep hills of the town into the old city to enjoy the views each morning.
We stayed in a boutique B&B, Da Noi Due, which was heavenly from the moment we arrived. The little touches from embroidered towels and bed linen, to coffee pods in the room and white beds for lazing on next to the pool, made the place the perfect end of summer retreat.
It also had the most incredible views of the old town, from an opening in the trees on the grounds. You could stare at it each morning, planning and pondering your day ahead in the ancient city walls.
Bergamo is a luxury destination without the price tag. I am forever grateful for my husbands’ accidental booking, he thought it was in Milan, which led us to discovering one of our new favourite Italian towns.
With flights for just £29 return from the UK, I am pretty sure it won’t be long before we are back.