Sunday, November 01, 2015

Bergamo

On October 18, our 3rd day on this tour, we boarded the coach for a C shape drive anti-clockwise to Bergamo which is about an hour and 40 minutes and 121km away. Bergamo said to be the loveliest city in northern Italy. Weather forecast is cloudy and about 15C so we dress as warm as for yesterday. Morning was hazy and slightly drizzly when we boarded our coach at 8.10. We were allocated seats. Unlike Asian tours European tours rotate seats so everyone get to sit both front and back. Andrew was sensitive to put the four of us together.

We leave the narrow road hugging the shops and houses and join the motorway to Milan and Bergamo stopping at the Autogrill service centre off the motorway for a comfort break. I bought two packs of cheese snacks for the grandkids. They would not expect us to return empty handed. Jan Carlo our driver said we're about 10km to Bergamo, a walled city rich in tradition and history. Although there's no rain the weather is gloomy. Hopefully when we get to the higher grounds we can get a good panoramic view of the city below. On arrival at the north eastern entrance to the city we were met by our local guide Marika who showed us the towers, cathedral, church and chapel.

Bergamo is one of northern Italy's most beguiling cities. Its defining feature is a double identity. The ancient hilltop Upper Town (Città Alta) is a tangle of tiny medieval streets, embraced by 5km of Venetian walls. It lords it over the largely (but not entirely) modern Lower Town (Città Bassa). A funicular connects the two.

The Città Alta forms the historic centre of Bergamo. It is an extremely expensive place to live in, with properties being sold for five to twelve thousand euro per square meter. This has numerous places of interest including:

1. Cittadella (Citadel), built by the Visconti in the mid-14th century.
2. Piazza Vecchia (old square)
3. Palazzo della Ragione. This was the seat of the administration of the city in the age of the communes. Currently it houses a selection of paintings from the Accademia Carrara. Erected in the 12th century, it was rebuilt in the late 16th century by Pietro Isabello.

After listening to the commentary by the local guide we decided to take the short funicular train up to the San Vigilio Castle and to see the panoramic view of the city. The mist however hides the splendour. The ticket cost €1.30 each with free ride down if we spend less than 75 minutes up. We met up with the rest of the group at 3.15pm to return to the hotel. Tomorrow's journey would be the highlight of the entire holiday. Andrew reminded us departure will be 7.10 sharp tomorrow to catch the Bernina Express at Tirano to climb the Swiss Alps to St Moritz. The weather forecast promised to be better over the days. However, expecting to be in the cold we pack to dress warmly tomorrow.


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