One of the most attractive cities in Lombardy, Bergamo is a brief train ride from Milan. Nestled in the hills of the Bergamese Alps, the medieval upper city, or Bergamo Alta, is reached by a funicular from the lower town. Bergamo is something of a hidden treasure, and it has much to offer travelers — Venetian-influenced architecture, several beautiful piazzas, and an interesting history.
Bergamo hotels, especially those in Bergamo Alta, tend to be fully booked months in advance during high season, so plan ahead.
In the upper town, Piazza Vecchio has a 12th-century clock tower, law courts dating from the same period, and a 16th-century library. The Cappella Colleoni — a beautiful chapel designed by Amadeo for the captain who ruled Bergamo on behalf of the Venetians in the 15th century — is in the adjoining Piazza del Duomo. The ornate pink and white marble façade features twisting columns and a rose window. Inside, there’s a ceiling by Tiepolo and a high altar with scenes from the Life of Christ.
Also on Piazza del Duomo are the octagonal Baptistery and the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. Gaetano Donizetti was born in Bergamo and he is entombed in a sarcophagus in the basilica. Visitors to the church should look for the intricate choir stalls designed by Lorenzo Lotto. And opera fans will enjoy the Donizetti Museum, in the house where the composer was born.
Bergamo’s art gallery, the Galleria dell’Accademia Carrara, has paintings by all the Italian masters, including Botticelli, Titian, and Raphael. The collection is especially strong in Venetian painting. It’s a must-visit for art lovers and surprisingly impressive.
The best Bergamo hotels in the upper town.
Most visitors to Bergamo want to stay in the medieval upper town. Since the are only a few hotels in Bergamo located there, you’ll need to make reservation well in advance to secure a room.
Mere steps from Piazza Vecchia on a cobbled street filled with shops and restaurants, Hotel Piazza Vecchia is housed in an old three-story townhouse that dates from the 14th century. The owners have managed to combine the best of old and new with stone bathrooms, open beams, and parquet floors, as well as thoughtful updates like WiFi access, and LCD TVs. Rooms and common areas are decorated with Impressionist reproductions painted by the innkeeper. Otherwise, the décor is stark and modern. With only 13 rooms, this lovely design hotel fills up fast.
Agnello d’Oro is a cute litte place very near Piazza Vecchia. The 20-room hotel overlooks a small piazza with a pretty fountain and some of the rooms on the front have balconies. If you don’t pop for a balcony, you can go up to the roof terrace for views of the harbor and lower town. The bathrooms have all been updated, and the rooms have mini bars and air conditioning. There’s a cozy restaurant on site, and several others within walking distance. This is not a luxury hotel, but the location is hard to beat and it has a lot of old-world charm. An added bonus for drivers is the parking garage.
Located in a former convent a short stroll from Bergamo’s main square, Hotel San Lorenzo opened in 1998. The building is encircled with a balcony and many of the rooms have French doors that open out onto it and overlook a tidy courtyard. There are views the other direction out over the valley. The nicely decorated rooms include amenities like satellite TV, mini bars, and hair dryers. Recent guests have complained about construction noise and dust at the property, so be advised that this could be a problem.
The best Bergamo hotels in the lower town.
Walking distance to the funicular that takes you to the upper town, Hotel Exclesior San Marco is the most charming hotel in Bergamo’s Citta Bassa. The hotel is set in a garden in a residential neighborhood, so it’s quieter than most of the other choices. And many of the rooms have balconies overlooking the garden. With it’s terrific views, the 8th-floor roof garden restaurant is the San Marco’s best feature. It’s a lovely place for breakfast. The other big draw here is the spa, which has a swimming pool, fitness center, and a thermal room.
Located in a restored palace that dates from 1879, The Mercure Bergamo Palazzo Dolci is the newest Bergamo hotel. Its 88 modern rooms have safety deposit boxes, satellite TV, and high-speed Internet access. The bar has a nice selection of Italian wines. It’s very convenient for those traveling by train or arriving by airplane. And several accessible rooms are available.
Hotel Cappello d’Oro is also close to the funicular and train station. As a member of the Best Western chain, it has lots of features Americans appreciate — among them a bar, a restaurant, a gym, 24-hour reception, outdoor parking, and Internet access. Rooms are large and comfortable. Service is generally friendly and professional, and the location is good for shopping and restaurants.
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