Sunday, 6 October 2013

Bergamo per pranzo

As the rain drizzled down we decided to follow the Italian tradition that I've been learning about at scuola, pranzo la Domenica, so we took the train to Bergamo and as you'll see, a little rain didn't dampen our appetites.
Only 50 minutes from Centrale we stepped onto Bergamo's main street with police cars parked everywhere. A major cycling race, Il Lombardia had started about an hour before we arrived. We caught the tail end of a local bike sprint so on our way past we snapped a quick shot of the young prize winning cyclists.
Bergamo is a really beautiful town which has kept its distinctive dual levels. The old town, citta alta, is a medieval walled town set on a hill rising above the more 'modern' part of the city, citta basso. Strolling through citta basso to the funicular, which links the two levels, we passed some impressive villas covered in autumn leaves.
 Quite a large crowd was waiting at the funicular station so we readied our elbows to make sure we didn't lose our spot in the jumble of a queue. Yes, we're becoming very Milanese having learnt from the experts about fending for oneself on public transport during the morning rush hour in Milan.
According to our trusty Lonely Planet Guidebook, Le Corbusier claimed that Bergamo's Piazza Vecchia was the 'most beautiful square in Italy'. It was lovely, even in the rain, although I might quibble with Le Corbusier's claim as I think I've seen others just as beautiful throughout Italy. Unfortunately, the Duomo and famous Basilia di Santa Maggiore were closed by the time we reached the main piazza as it was the lunch hour.  Still the views from the outside were pretty spectacular.
As the rain settled in, the crowds began moving towards the many restaurants serving lunch. Luckily Stefano spotted a cosy little place serving some of the local specialities, 'casoncelli' a sausage filled pasta, polenta, and baked rabbit. Perfect hearty meals for pranzo on this autumn day.
Although the north of Italy isn't famous for its pizza, the local pizzeria was doing swift business as large slabs were sliced off with scissors and sold by weight. Not quite so popular were the local speciality cakes, 'polenta e osei' which look exactly like polenta nests with little chocolate birds popped in the middle but actually they're not made from polenta at all. We kept walking but will certainly have to taste some next time.  Yes, we've already decided that we must return to Bergamo as there is so much more to see and taste.
Our stroll down to citta basso was more exciting than expected as we came across a local music festival.
The drizzle didn't seem to bother anyone, not the guy on his own stage singing the old time favourites, nor the locals folk dancing along the streets of the lower town. While the musicians played, the crowds joined in, singing along as they strolled past. We're discovering that the Italians are a sentimental people who love a good sing-a-long, almost as much as they love a big Sunday lunch with their families. Yes, it seems we're becoming quite Italian as I'm sure I heard Stefano humming 'Volare' on the train back to Milano.

Was it only two weeks ago that I enjoyed a glass of bubbles in the late evening sunshine? Well those days of warmth and sunshine are long gone. This week the temperature hovered around 16 C and many of the locals are talking about signs of a very cold winter.  More hearty meals ahead it seems.

e così fino alla prossima volta


  1. So sounds like Bergamo lived up to expectations Jen despite the rain. Glad to see you are learning how to survive on the PT - we might have to watch out for your elbows on Sydney trains. Bruce was impressed you saw part of the cycle race!

  2. Really worth visiting.
    Therese, you can see a photo of the bus I catch in the morning on the photo roll this week. Honestly, I can't believe how people elbow their way into the tiniest spaces. Often I stand on the footpath in awe as yet another bus, or should I say sardine can, leaves me waiting. Luckily the buses are only 2-3 minutes apart in the mornings. Can't be late for school or I end up sitting right under the teacher's nose. The back row for me thanks.

  3. Ciao Jenny and Stephen great to meet you, sounds like you are having a great time in Milan. Are you over here for long? We are in Valle Pellice and originally from Melbourne (via ten years in Brisbane lol). Great to chat to some other Aussies.
    ciao for now
    lisa x
    PS are you on facebook, I put a link to your site on my page x

    1. Thanks for the mention Lisa. I'm full of admiration for your renovation adventure and thoroughly enjoying your blog. Yes, we are loving Milan and hope to be here for a couple of years.

  4. I love looking at your pictures and reading your commentaries. I have been to Italy several times, and it never is enough!

    1. Thank you for your friendly comment. Our blog is a great way to keep track of all the wonderful places we are visiting. So far we plan to return to almost every town we've seen so yes, you're quite right, once is certainly never enough in Italy.