Day 1 – Bergamo

The clouds looked beautiful but ominous from the windows of the bus from Milano Malpensa to the Bergamo airport. I didn’t care much as I just wanted to be settled and get some sleep.

Another bus from the Bergamo airport took me to Bergamo Alta, the upper city, where I met my host who helped with my luggage. Fortunately, as the cobblestones make for tough rolling. The paved sidewalk helps.

I didn’t have much time or energy to check out the surroundings as we walked to my lodgings, but I saw that they were well worth exploring. Once again I am near a church, this time a Basilica.

Finally I got to bed and some much needed sleep until 10pm when the bells began to ring.

For centuries the four portals of Bergamo Alta were locked at 10pm each night with bells rung to warn that the doors were shutting. They no longer lock the gates to protect the citizens but still ring the bells for old times’ sake.

Next morning, finally rested, I explored the neighborhood. This well-preserved lavatoio from the late 19th century provided women a place to do their laundry.

I stopped in a bakery for some breakfast goodies and snapped an image of this vintage photograph on the wall.

Bergamo Alta is served by a funicular. I needed to meet a walking tour in the lower and more modern city, so I took the funicular down.

The carriage is very small, but it was not packed. A grandma had great fun taking her grandson on the ride.

The station below was more crowded with tourists.

The lower city was built later but still has its charms. From here at what’s called Porta Nuova, Bergamo Alta can be seen in the background.

The guide named Agnish turned out to be from Calcutta. He attended Harvard, then somehow landed in Bergamo, fell in love with the city, and got a Masters degree in tourism.

He took us on another funicular ride to the Torre Castello in area called San Vigilio. The fort was originally constructed by the Longobards then enhanced by the Venetians. The site provides a 360 degree view of the area, perfect for spotting oncoming enemies.

Agnish pointed out the neighborhood of upscale homes in San Vigilio and mentioned that the Bergamaschi won’t sell in this area to foreigners, the wealthy Russians, Saudis, or Chinese, in order to keep their traditions intact.

Back in Bergamo Alta, we passed what Angish called paradise, a place called Il Fornaio where the offerings are out of this world. Must definitely try one before I leave if I have the stomach/guts for it.

We passed by the Piazza di Duomo with the 15th century Colleoni Chapel on the right and the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore on the left.

Bartolomeo Colleoni was a mercenary who fought primarily for the the Venetians. He built this pink and white marble chapel to honor and hold the remains of his daughter who died at a young age.

Photos aren’t allowed inside, but these cherubs are two of many that adorn the exterior.

A sun dial is embedded in the pavement across from the chapel. The sun shines through the hole up near the arch and lands on each day of the year as time passes and the world turns.

Inside the Basilica, renovation work is underway on the wooden choir panels. The renovators have decided to open the work to the public to show how the process takes place.

Before and after.

Interior of the Basilica is baroque. This is the most elaborate confessional I’ve ever seen.

The interior of the cathedral, right adjacent to the Basilica, is less elaborate. Mass is underway for about twenty worshipers.

The church is branching out as this poster tells of masses in all kinds of languages to serve the area’s many different immigrants.

A good first day. Tomorrow I’m off to San Pellegrino Terme.

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