Bergamo - Piazza Vecchia and Piazza Duomo
Bergamo and its Province are ideal destinations for those who love art, culture, and/or sports, thanks to its well-appointed touristic offerings. Tourism in the area, in fact, takes advantage of masterpieces, whether manmade or nature made, all amidst a pleasant climate and ancient history. The Province of Bergamo is situated in the eastern Lombardy Region, occupying the central section of the Alpine foothills and a small expanse of the Po River Plain. The north of the Province is a mountainous region, connected to the south by land straddling the hills and the Po River Plain. The territory of Bergamo boasts landscapes that combine nature and human presence in a harmonious way.
Its valleys (Val Brembana and Val Seriana are those foremost, giving way to smaller, but no less evocative valleys) are the locations for numerous ski slopes of varying degrees of difficulty, served by an extensive network of ski lifts.
These valleys are not only beautiful in winter: they reveal their sweeter side during summertime, perfect for excursions amidst the lush vegetation bathed in light. Meanwhile, in autumn, the forests covering the hillsides are an explosion of browns and reds, a fairytale landscape that seems to change daily.
The Lakes of Lombardy, at the border with Brescia, include Lake Iseo, ideal for water sports, boat trips, or visiting the surrounding villages; and Lake Endine, considered to be a wildlife oasis surrounded by woods and reed beds.
In the area incorporating Val Cavallina, Val Calepio, Alto and Basso Sebino, the lakes are marked by more distinctive, geographical outlines, and the surrounding hills and peaks with their own particular environmental features contain within a wealth of historic and artistic heritage.
The streets of Bergamo, surrounded by city walls and nestled on a hill, retain the look of a Medieval village, enclosed by its strong walls built by the Venetians in the 16th Century when the the most Serene Republic was at the height of its power; more than three centuries of prosperity and economic development have left their mark in the monuments, institutions and the character of its people.
Testaments to this period are the well-preserved palaces, churches and public squares, such as the group of buildings comprising the Duomo, the Colleoni Chapel and the Baptistery, just to mention a few, along with Piazza Vecchia (the old public square) and Palazzo della Ragione.
The Accademia Carrara, one of the most important art galleries in all of Italy, must not be missed, along with Teatro Donizetti, dedicated to the most illustrious citizen of Bergamo, Gaetano Donizetti, and where famous works are performed.
Elsewhere in Bergamo Province, the Medieval architecture alternates with more recent architecture of outstanding artistic value, such as the Church of San Tomè, a Romanesque jewel dedicated to Saint Almenno Bartolomeo; and the Church of Santa Barbara, that houses an important cycle of frescos by artists the likes of Lorenzo Lotto and Trescore Balneario. The Castle of Cavernago is a powerful defensive structure, converted over the years into noble residences enlivened with frescoes. Many palaces - splendid patrician residences – are also scattered throughout the territory.
Caravaggio is well worth a visit, with its important Marian Sanctuary - dating from 1451 - and Pontida, the location of a Benedictine monastery where the Lombard municipalities met in 1167 to swear to defending their freedom against Federico Barbarossa.
The workers’ town of Crespi d’Adda (founded at the end of 1800) enjoys UNESCO status as a World Heritage Site; it is a small town built around an old, disused factory and homes, built for the factory workers at the time but still in use today. The company town of Crespi d’Adda is considered one of the most complete and best-preserved of its kind in southern Europe; it can be visited with a guide or alone.
For winter sports enthusiasts, the ski resorts of Orobica in the Alpine foothills offer snowboarding, ice skating and ski slopes for holidays with the best in sport, nature and high-quality services.
Those who prefer a holiday devoted to health and fitness amidst the fresh air and beauty of the mountains should head for the Sant'Omobono Terme in the lush Imagna Valley.
The Seriana Valley offers a range of paths and trails for cycling, trekking and walking while seeing villages of rare beauty; or perhaps the Gromo Castle, built in 1226 atop a rock dominating the valley; and the Serio Waterfall that, at 1,033 feet is the highest in Italy and among the highest in Europe.
Itineraries that touch on the Province's natural oases begin in the Parco dei Colli di Bergamo that encompasses a large valley surrounding the city, and move on to the Regional Natural Reserve of Valpredina, a WWF oasis, with typical Alpine wildlife and botanical gardens, where Mediterranean vegetation has been artificially cultivated and adapted to the local climatic conditions. The evocative mountain pathway, the Sentiero dei Fiori (the path of flowers) in the boroughs of Oltre il Colle and Zambla is worthy of note for its plants dating back to the Ice Age.
The Lombardy Region's lakes are the destination of choice for those who love sailing, windsurfing, mini-cruises or simply strolling lakeside.
From the Villa d’Adda, a ferry - a craft originally imagined up by Leonardo da Vinci - runs along the Adda River: it is a 197-ft wooden boat connecting Lecco to Bergamo.
Finally, the Terme di Trescore is a spa offering invigorating waters, health, wellness and relaxation.
Bike paths are also bountiful in Bergamo Province, with 124 miles' worth traversing many of its most evocative and inspiring sights and locations.
Bergamo is a land boasting a varied and tasty range of gastronomic products: from cheeses and desserts to cured pork meats to polenta, culinary delights exist to satisfy every palate.
The classic Bergamo starters or antipasti are Casonsèi de la bergamasca and Scarpinocc de Par, prepared with fresh pasta; they are genuine delicacies for those who love fine dining.
Bergamo remains the home of polenta, classic or taragna (accompanied by the excellent, dairy cheeses of the local tradition), served with game or stew.
Plenty of desserts will tempt even the non-sweettooths: Clusoni cookies, covered in chocolate; San Pellegrino cookies; the famous polenta e Osèi de la Bergamasca made with sponge cake and butter cream, chocolate and nuts; Treviglio Cake and Donizetti Cake.
The traditional olive oil of Sebino accompanies the Provincial dishes; the oil is produced in a vast area surrounding Lake Iseo.
The wines are varied and prestigious, especially in the hilly area running from the River Adda to Lake Isea (the Valcalepio area). Valcalepio has seen the renaissance of wine production in the Province of Bergamo, above all at the beginning of the 1970s, when skillful development of the vines began and led to the red, white and Moscato Passito wines being awarded the prestigious D.O.C. certification.
Every district of Bergamo is also famous for its cheeses: branzi, from Val Brembana, the formai de mut and taleggio, taking its name from Val Taleggio where its production began c. 10th-11th Centuries. This is regarded as the best cheese to pair with polenta dishes and wines from Valcalepio. Another typical cheese is the stracchino bronzone - one of the most characteristic products of Basso Sebino - a soft cheese the authenticity and quality of which have made it a candidate for the P.D.O. label. Bergamo is also famous for its honey production, regarded as the perfect accompaniment to cheese.
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