Nestled in the foothills of the Alps, the ancient Venetian city of Bergamo is a wonderful discovery for anyone traveling in the northern region of Lombardia. While most pass through to enjoy world class skiing and hiking at nearby Seriana and Brembana, those who stay are rewarded with dazzling displays of diverse ancient architecture, art and cuisine.
About an hour northeast of Milan, Bergamo, proclaimed “the most beautiful corner of Italy” by a visiting Herman Hesse, is divided into two; the modern industrial hub of Citta Bassa to the south and the medieval history rich Citta Alta, perched high above on the hill. A fundicular connects the two; offering not only a means of transport between the two but breathtaking views of the surrounding area. Architectural points of interest include the grand 18th century opera house, Teatro Donizetti, with its fresco adorned walls and stunning marble works and the Piazza Vecchia, with its monolithic bell tower (Campanone) which each evening tolls the long past curfew. Significant works of art show themselves in unsuspecting and unassuming ways, whether it be in a church or in a hidden piazza. These include works of Botticelli, Raphael and local Renaissance painters Giovanni Battista Moroni and Lorenzo Lotto.
Just to the north of Bergamo lies the DOC Valcalepio. The region produces medium bodied, vibrant, long finishing Rossos comprised of Bordeaux varietals while the Biancos, made from Pinot Grigio, Pinot Bianco and Chardonnay, are richly full flavored and aromatic. These wine are a wonderful compliment to the delightful dishes of the region, whether it be the well known cheeses of Talagio and Gran Padano, aged pork products like salami or Babbo’s featured dish of December: Polenta Taragna.