Have you ever been to the Accademia Carrara? And the Rota Botanical Garden? Come and visit Bergamo with us on this “unusual” itinerary.

Visiting Bergamo is always an inspiring experience. For sure you know all about the distinction between Upper Bergamo – a laid-back and quaint old town which traces its foundations to a medieval stronghold – and the modern, bustling city on the low ground at its feet. Many, even among the townspeople themselves, enjoy pitting the two different urban characters against each other: Bergamo’s upper “Città Alta” or the lower downtown “Bergamo di Sotto” – which is better?

Well, quite simply, we love them both and we decided to leverage the city’s vertical vocation to offer you an original journey from the low districts to the heights of the old quarter, discovering some special sites.

Here are three not-to-be-missed gems, three of the city’s landmarks that will amaze you, even if you’ve been to Bergamo many times before. Let’s go!

Visitare Bergamo 3 luoghi basso alto - Rick Ligthelm via Flickr

© Rick Ligthelm via Flickr

The Accademia Carrara: the starting point of our Bergamo tour.

As promised, we start from the low districts. We introduce you to the City’s first “gem”: Accademia Carrara, one of Italy’s top-tier fine art academies and a major national art gallery. Located along one of the main access roads to the center, it is located right on the lower slopes of Bergamo Alta.

The patron Giacomo Carrara donated the Academy to the city in the late 18th century. Today it boasts a collection of more than 3,000 drawings, more than 8,000 prints, and 1,800 paintings by renowned historical masters such as Botticelli, Raphael, Mantegna, Pisanello, Tiepolo, Canaletto, and Titian. Here you can take a journey through the history of Italian art in its most splendid periods, from the beginning of the 15th century to the end of the 19th century. In addition to the permanent exhibition, the Academy offers a rich lineup of events and temporary exhibitions.

The Academy is open every day except Tuesdays, from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm. The full ticket costs €10, with free admission for children under 18 and a variety of other promotional rates and facilitations.

The Botanical Garden: a corner of paradise

Up we climb to Città Alta now, where we shall visit the Lorenzo Rota Botanical Garden, the City’s miniature paradise. Although quite small in size (2400 square meters), the garden is home to an incredible variety of plant species.

Trees, shrubs, and colorful flowers grow luxuriantly in this pleasant little corner of Bergamo, which moreover is located at the northwest end of the ancient Venetian Walls. Looking out from here, you can enjoy a delightful view of the City and the Orobian Prealps – definitely a must whenever visiting Bergamo.

# Also worth mentioning are the many activities organized by the Garden’s staff: exhibitions, workshops for children, readings, and even food-tasting events.

Please note: admission to the garden is free, but it is only open from March to October. During open months, you can visit from 10 am to noon in the mornings; in the afternoons, it opens at 2 pm and closes at 5 pm in March and October, 6 pm in April and September, and 7 pm in the remaining months.

Visitare Bergamo 3 luoghi basso alto - Orto botanico

© Botanical Garden of Bergamo

The San Vigilio funicular: higher than Bergamo Alta itself!

Have you ever seen Bergamo Alta from above? Well, you can do it with the San Vigilio funicular! The last leg of our special itinerary actually takes you just a little higher than the medieval town, so you can enjoy a truly breathtaking view: in fact, the funicular starts from largo Porta S. Alessandro and reaches the top of the hill of San Vigilio, the highest point of the city.

The journey is already breathtaking in itself, but once you get off the funicular carriage, you can go straight into the Parco dei Colli gardens, a protected green area covering 4,700 hectares.

Visitare Bergamo 3 luoghi basso alto - San Vigilio by Luca de Cani via Flickr

© Luca de Cani via Flickr

What about the other must-see sites for a trip to Bergamo?

If you have a little extra time to spend in the city, you can add other wonders to the three destinations we have just mentioned: there are so many things to see in Bergamo, from Porta San Giacomo to Piazza Vecchia, the DuomoPalazzo Nuovo, and many others.

Travelling with children? Then you must experience the great Le Cornelle zoological park. And if you’re lucky enough to be in Bergamo during the Santa Lucia festivities, the merry-go-round and Christmas markets are unique attractions!

Visitare Bergamo 3 luoghi basso alto - Stefano Merli via Flickr

© Stefano Merli via Flickr

Getting to Bergamo with Italo

How to reach this marvelous little city in Lombardy? All high-speed trains take you directly into Bergamo’s city-center station. Then you can visit it all – from below to the heights. Are you ready?


Cover photo: © aidan.hyland via Flickr