Italy: visit Bergamo and its Città Alta

One of the major advantages of living in Nice is that you can go to Italy for a weekend to experience the dolce vita. Indeed, the Italian border is only 30 minutes away from Nice. Although the Liguria region is not necessarily the most beautiful of the Italian regions, you only have to drive a few hours to get to the Lombardy region of which Milan is the capital. There are a range of sublime places to explore in Lombardy but my biggest favourite was visiting Bergamo.

A true Italian medieval gem that takes us back in time to the Middle Ages. The surprise is all the stronger when we saw no photo of this high perched village which I didn’t even know existed.

For information, it takes about 3h30 to drive from Nice to Milan and 4h15 to drive from Nice to Bergamo. So a 3 day weekend is ideal.

visiter bergame

Visit Bergamo and its Città Alta


1. Visit Bergamo and its Città Alta

Once you arrive in the city of Bergamo, you immediately notice the old village perched high up at 365m. It reminds me of the villages of the French Riviera, each one as perched as the other. For information, Berghem means “dwelling on the mountain”. This medieval city, also called Città Alta (high city), was for a long time an important place in Northern Italy because of its strategic position on the hill. Two hours from Venice, the Venetians of old had reinforced the northern cities, including Bergamo, by building new 5 kilometre long ramparts to make it an impregnable citadel. The walls are quite spectacular and remarkably well preserved, which is what gives the city its charm.


2. Bergamo’s Città Alta, an open-air museum

As in all of Italy, the architecture is of incomparable authenticity and beauty. Bergamo is living proof of this with its many monuments that confirm the richness of Italy’s exceptional historical heritage. I loved visiting this ancient village and strolling through the narrow streets, eyes always on the sky to admire the incredible architecture, a real open-air museum that surprises at every corner: cathedral, basilica, palace, vault… Here are the different monuments not to be missed:

  • The Venetian Gate of San Giacomo
  • The piazza Vecchia
  • Gombito Tower
  • Palazzo della Rangione
  • Palazzo Nuovo
  • La campanone
  • The Calleoni Chapel
  • The Basilica of Santa Maria di Maggiore

Strolling through the streets and squares of Bergamo’s Città Alta

3. How to get to the Città Alta?

Bergamo’s Città Alta is over 350 metres high. There are two ways to get there:

  • either on foot: it takes about 15 minutes and more if you stop to take pictures of the incredible panoramic view of the lower city and the surrounding plains
  • or by taking the funicular through the Venetian walls. In a few minutes, the cabin will save you 85 meters of height. I invite you to walk back down to enjoy the spectacular view.


funiculaire bergamo

Funicular Bergamo

4. Bergamo’s culinary specialities

Travelling and visiting new horizons also means discovering new culinary flavours. Bergamo is no exception to the rule and offers as a speciality its famous polenta made of boiled corn flour served with a good red wine. For my part, I find it correct but there is not necessarily any taste. There is also polenta e osei, a sweet polenta which is the most famous dessert of Bergamo cuisine. Prepared with sponge cake and more precisely marzipan, which is a sugar paste, chocolate cream, butter, hazelnuts, on top of which there are little birds made of marzipan and covered with chocolate. Yummy, don’t leave Bargamo without tasting the Polenta e osei.

polenta di osei citta de bergame

Speciality of Bergamo: polenta e osei

5. A selection of hotels in Bergamo’s Città Alta

You come to visit Bergamo for a weekend and you are looking for a hotel. Being a fairly touristy city, you won’t have any trouble finding a place to stay. Here is a selection of hotels in Bergamo’s Città Alta that offer good value for money.

  • B&B Donizetti Royal rooms

Hotel Room Apartment from 85€ per night. This hotel is located in Via Torquato Tasso, 94, 24121 Bergamo in the centre of the town. It is highly rated by past guests.


  • Bergamo Inn 43

Hotel from 75€ per night. It is located at Sentierone, 43, 24121 in the heart of Città Alta. A touch of modernity in one of the most beautiful ancient villages of Lombardy.


  • Il rifugio di Elizabeth

Hotel from 67€ per night. It is located in Via Pignolo, 112, 24121 in a quiet and discreet street in Città Alta. It is also highly rated by past visitors.

So, has this article made you want to explore all the richness of this Italian city?


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Ex-Parisienne settled on the French Riviera since 2013. In love with the region, I share with you all my discoveries, my good addresses, my life experiences in Nice and the French Riviera
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