Bergamo – Northern Italy’s Hidden Gem

Milan is one of the most interesting places to visit in Italy and is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination. However, its also definitely worth visiting the forgotten yet hidden gem of Lombardy – Bergamo. 

Bergamo is at a stone’s throw from Milan (around 45 minutes by train) and can be a great day trip. I was so surprised how underrated this cute little city is as I felt it was most authentically Italian city i visited during my trip to Northern Italy – especially the old city, known as Citta Alta. This part of Bergamo is a maze of narrow alleys, gorgeous buildings and has some great viewpoints. 

Here’s a quick travel guide to this beautiful Italian city and the best things to do in Bergamo. 

Take the funicular up to the Citta Alta

The city is divided into two main parts, with a further sub-division once you reach High Bergamo (Citta Alta). This part of Bergamo dates back thousands of years and was built in the Roman era. 

Below, where the train station is, you will find the newer part of the city (though also dating back at least 5 centuries). We actually took the funicular walk up to the old city but then walked down to the new city. 

Visit the Tempietto di Santa Croce

This incredibly stunning ancient 11th century chapel is hidden in plain sight, so much so that my family walked straight past it. This best-kept secret in Bergamo gives you a glimpse of Bergamo history with its stone structure leaning on to one. 

Visit the Duomo di Bergamo

Bergamo was once home to two cathedrals but only one survives to this day. The Duomo di Bergamo (Bergamo’s cathedral) can be found right next to Piazza Vecchia, part of the Roman Catholic Church. 

Enjoy Coffee in the Piazza Vecchia

We really enjoyed just drinking Italian coffee in the Piazza Vecchia, the old town square. As it was the last day before Coronavirus Lockdown, the streets and the square was empty. Like many smaller Italian towns and cities, the prices of Bergamo are much less than those of Rome and Milan. 

We really enjoyed just drinking Italian coffee in the Piazza Vecchia, the old town square. As it was the last day before Coronavirus Lockdown, the streets and the square was empty. Like many smaller Italian towns and cities, the prices of Bergamo are much less than those of Rome and Milan. 

Walk through the Bergamo City Gate

The Venetian walls which characterise Bergamo start from the San Giacomo Gate, the old entrance to the city for those travelling to Bergamo from Milan. 

Venetian Walls

As we walked down the old city to the new city, we noticed the beautiful Venetian Walls surrounding the old city. Bergamo is heavily fortified by the Venetian Walls, which are now designated as a UNESCO world heritage site. The walls were constructed in the 16th century under the republic of Venice. Today, the renaissance era walls are some of the best-preserved walls standing in the world today. 

The complete loop stretches over 6km in length and walking along the high walls by foot is the best introduction you could have to the city. This one my parent’s favourite part of the day – just walking along the high walls and looking out at the beautiful views. 

Wander the cobbled streets

The best way to reveal Bergamo’s hidden gems is simply to allow the city to reveal itself to you. This Lombardy city is a place where its atmosphere needs to eb absorbed and you should just go where your feet takes you. 

Soak up the history of the beautiful ancient city. 

Do you have any questions about travelling to Bergamo that I didn’t answer? Be sure to leave them in the comments, and I’ll get back to you as quickly as possible 🙂

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Going to the biggest fiesta in Malaga!

With its prime location in Costa del Sol, Malaga is a city that mastered the art of self-reinvention instead of being the sleepy port that it was once famous for. As we were based in Marbella, we took a day trip to Malaga, mainly to experience the annual Feria de Malaga, but also to see the city’s exquisite architecture, delicious food and learn about its history. 

If you’re wondering what to do in Malaga, Spain in one day – then this guide is for you! 

Feria de Malaga

The main reason for going to Malaga was to experience the best and biggest fiesta in town. The Festival of Malaga is the ultimate summer fiesta in the province of Andalucía and takes place in the middle of August each year. The festival dates back to 1487 when Catholic Monarchs Fernando II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile triumphally rode into the city to reclaim Malaga as part of Catholic Spain from its Moorish occupants.  We learnt that the Spanish love a good party as it runs for a full seven days and nights.  It kicks off with fireworks and concerts on the beach and then there are energetic daily street parties throughout the city centre. The city comes alive and showcases its vibrant culture in a mix of music, traditional dresses and horses carriages. I loved how the locals dress up in their traditional clothing – especially women walking around in the Flamenco dresses and the men as Vaqueros (Spanish cowboys).

Alcazaba de Malaga

After experiencing some fiesta, we explored the main sites of Malaga. Alcazaba is probably the most well-known tourist attraction of the city. Situated atop some of the city’s highest hills, Alcazaba is a Moorish fortress and palace and was home to the Muslim rulers. It was built in the 11th century atop a former Roman bastion. Whilst walking around, you can see some of the materials used by the Romans, like the columns. I was particularly impressed with how well-preserved and maintained it all was. We walked past courtyards, patios, fountains and beautiful garden. 

It also offers lovely views of Malaga itself from its towers and walls.  

Roman Theatre

After spending so much time on our feet, we decided to do a bit more of a relaxing activity and visit the Roman Theatre, located just below the Alcazaba. Completely free to enter, we viewed the little exhibit in the visitors centre, read the plaques and took a seat within the theatre itself. The Roman Theatre is the oldest site in Malaga and was built in the first century AD by Augustus but was used as a theatre a century later. It was then abandoned for years and was only discovered in 1951, when the building that was built on top was destroyed. Nowadays, many outdoor performances are taking place there. 

Malaga Cathedral 

The cathedral is one of the tallest in Andalucía and can be seen from miles away. It started to be built in the 16th century, on the foundations of the city’s old mosque. The construction lasted for 200 years but then halted due to lack of funding. Consequently, the cathedral was never fully finished and has only one bell tower (two were meant to be built). You can also climb the 200 steps to go up the 87m high tower. We didn’t have time to go up but you can see 360° scenic view from up there.

Gibralfaro Castle 

Another place you must visit in Malaga is the Gibralfaro castle. Its very close to Alcazaba and also offers the best scenic views over the city. The castle was built in the 14th century to protect the Alcazaba. It has a barrack to house soldiers and a lighthouse (Gibal is an Arabic word meaning mountain and Greek word of faro light). On clear days you an even see the Strait of Gibraltar from up there. 

Do you have any questions about travelling to Malaga that I didn’t answer? Be sure to leave them in the comments, and I’ll get back to you as quickly as possible 🙂

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