Visiting Bergamo, Italy

Bergamo, Italy by Monica Goslin

Visiting Bergamo, Italy – Part One: Main Attractions

Bergamo, Italy is the epitome of a charming medieval town and modern city combined. Bergamo has a big city feel in the lower city where traffic is crazy; locals are having boisterous conversations with plenty of hand gestures, modern art exhibits and operas, and the general rush of big city life. While the upper city is a medieval maze of cobble stoned streets, charming cafes, grand piazzas and castle ruins.

* See more photos of Bergamo, Italy by clicking here. 


What to see and do in Bergamo, Italy

The main tourist attraction is the upper city or “Citta alta” situated on a hill above the city.

1 – Piazza Vecchia – the old square is the where you will find the main attractions, details of each below. Just past the square is the Piazza Duomo where you will find the main sights which are two churches and a chapel, all representing different centuries, and collectively spanning 500 years!

2 – Palazzo della Ragione – Situated at the end of the old square, this small stone building is now an art museum. The atrium below the palazzo has an 18th century sundial that cuts a diagonal right through the atrium.

3 – Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore – The basilica is just past the old square and right next to the Capella Colleoni/Colleoni Chapel. The church was founded in the 12th century and was constructed well into the 13th and 14th centuries with restorations made in the 17th century. In fact, the Basilica rests on the site of what used to be a Roman temple and an 8th century church.

The church can be entered by the small door flanked by two lions. Above the doorway are the statues of Saints and the Madonna and Child. (There is another entrance to the church on the other side which is a bit less traveled by tourists, and that entrance is guarded by two white marble lions).

Inside the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore you will find tapestries from the 16th century, frescos, a wooden choir, bronze candelabras, a 14th century crucifix, and the tomb of the composer Gaetano Donizetti and his teacher Simone Mayr. Also note the fresco of The Last Supper from the 14th century by the entrance, the artist is unknown, but it is a lovely painting.


4 – The Colleoni Chapel has the geometric façade composed of pink and white marble. The Chapel was built in the late 15th century for Bartolomeo Colleoni, a member of an important family of the city and whose tomb is inside facing the entrance while a tomb and monument to his daughter Medea is on the left. The chapel is dedicated to the saints Mark, Bartholomew, and John the Baptist whose stories are depicted in the frescoes of the dome.

* Both the Chapel and the Basilica are free to enter.


For more of what to see in Bergamo, Italy keep an eye out for part two of “Visiting Bergamo, Italy”

Travel tips for Como, Italy

Como, Italy - gardens at Villa Olmo

What to do and see in Como, Italy on Lake Como

Como is one of the main cities on the Lake Como and it is a ritzy shopping location. Como is a great place to visit for a day trip if that is all the time you have, and you can see the main sights in a day. (Read to the end to learn a fun fact about Como, Italy!).


Maint Sights to see in Como, Italy

1 – Duomo – Cathedral: The main Cathedral in Como is stunning both inside and out. The Cathedral dates back to 1396 when construction started. The façade of the church, with the rose window, was built in 1457 and the entire building was completed by 1740. Inside you will find tapestries and artworks from the 16th and 17th centuries.

2 – Basilica di San Fedele – This stone church was built in the 12th century (although the bell tower was rebuilt). Note the door with medieval decorations and the beautifully black and white tiled floor.

3 – Villa Olmo – The large villa can be reached by walking along the lake and through the large park. The Villa Olmo was built in 1797 and housed many important figures including Napoleon and Archduke Franz Ferdinand I. The villa now houses art exhibitions and the gardens are free to walk through.

4 – Funicular up to Brunate: Take the funicular up the mountain for spectacular views of the city and the lake. It is only 4,50 euros for a roundtrip ticket. However if it is a hazy day you will not see that far, so make sure to go on a clear day. Unless you plan to make the trek up to the lighthouse (on top of the mountain) there isn’t much else to see other then a quick walk through the town of Brunate. If you decide to meander through the town, wear good walking shoes, as there are many steep steps and cobblestone streets. (Also note that the funicular is very steep and if you are afraid of heights or wary of small contraptions or claustrophobic you might not enjoy the ride).


These are the main sights but otherwise it is essential to walk around the city of Como and literally get lost. You will see beautifully painted and decorated buildings, so architecture and art lovers will be thrilled with Como! Explore the streets, see the fancy shops, dodge the bike riders, eat gelato, and marvel at the beautiful buildings. Enjoy!

To see more photos of Como, Italy click here for Monica Goslin Photography.

To buy framed photos and photo books on Lake Como, Italy click here for The Monica Store.

*For a special accordion card of Lake Como, Italy click here!


How to get to Como, Italy

1 – Take a train to Como from Milan. If you take a train from Milan’s main train station you can get a direct train to Como (ride is an hour long). If you are going right from the airport (Malpensa) you still have to take a train to the main train station (from the airport, take a train to the main train station: 40 minute ride).

For fares and schedules click here for the always useful Rail Europe website.

2 – There are also various boats/ferries from different towns on Lake Como.


Key travel tips for Como, Italy:

1 – It is a bike town. Most of the historical downtown is pedestrian, with the occasional car/truck to watch for but you need to be aware of the bike riders!

2 – Bring an umbrella! – I have been to Como more then a dozen times and only one time did it not rain!

3 – If you do not have time to take the funicular up to the top of the mountain it is okay  – while it is beautiful up there the main things to see are the views and a few beautiful villas. Find the funicular by walking along the lake and follow the signs to the funi. A round trip ticket on the funicular is 4,50 Euros.

4 – If visiting the area in the summer, ladies make sure to bring a light scarf to put on your shoulders to enter Cathedrals – you will not be let in with strapless tops or tank tops. This is a general rule for most of Europe!

5 – Beware the traveling in Italy on Easter weekend means crowds – lots and lots of people in cities and on trains. If you travel anywhere in Italy on Easter weekend book hotels and trains way in advance!


Fun and crazy fact about Como, Italy: The Rockefeller fountain at the Bronx Zoo in New York City was once in the main square in Como! The fountain was purchased by William Rockefeller in 1902 for about 600 dollars and invested 25,000 dollars to bring it to New York City!


For information about Lake Como and all of Northern Italy’s major lakes click here for