Time seems to come to a standstill when you enter Bergamo, a city in Lombardy just 40 km (25 mi) northeast of Milan. In Città Alta, the upper city, broad cobblestone paths wind past Renaissance and Baroque style buildings, leading to majestic palazzos and thriving piazzas that have stood for centuries.
Surrounding the upper city is a formidable stone wall which has guarded the city since the early 14th-century. The border, especially ethereal at night under the red glow of the street lamps, was built by the Venetians who ruled the city for almost 400 years. A funicular connects the ancient administrative centre of Bergamo to the more modern residential quarters – Città Bassa, the lower city – which itself has a history dating all the way back to the 19th-century.
Here, we recommend 10 accommodation options, from hotels to vacation rentals, where you can head out from to experience life in the medieval town of Bergamo.
Hotel Piazza Vecchia is a revived 14th-century townhouse that once belonged to the great Bartolomeo Colleoni, a captain-general of the Republic of Venice. It is situated a mere 50 m (164 ft) away from its namesake, the old square of Piazza Vecchia, otherwise known as the heart of Città Alta.
The hotel cultivates a cosy atmosphere with exposed stone and wood surfaces, and flax-colored walls. Replicas of masterpieces by Van Gogh, Gauguin and Bergamo’s own Trento Longaretti, all skillfully painted by the proprietor Tiziana De Franceschi himself, anoint the place with a touch of elegance. At Hotel Piazza Vecchia heritage coexists with modernity.
Hotel Piazza Vecchia
Address: Via B. Colleoni 3/5, 24129 Bergamo, Italy (see map)
Price: from 234 USD
Palazzo Rivola is another gem just minutes away from Piazza Vecchia, and the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. This contemporary palace contrasts rustic styles with contemporary fittings to create a unique ambience in each room. Unpolished wooden door frames are paired with concrete-grey walls, and bare brick feature walls augment the pop of lime-green or orange of the bed frames.
Located on the 3rd and 4th floor of a 17th-century building, guests can be sure of a peaceful sleep at night. In the morning, you can enjoy a traditional Italian breakfast with views of the beautiful city below. This quaint B&B only has 5 rooms, so do make sure to reserve your places early!
Address: Via Tassis 21, 24129 Bergamo, Italy (see map)
Price: from 95 USD
Beneath the hewn stone exterior of Gombit Hotel, a playful, minimalist interior lies waiting to delight guests. The eclectic hotel is a project of the prestigious DesignHotels circuit, which brings together artists dedicated to applying their creativity to living spaces. Each space in Gombit has been carefully curated to a color theme, be it the earth-brown of the classic room, the deep orange of the deluxe room, or the pastel green of the superior room. Design culminates in the suite loft, which features a mahogany staircases set against a floor to ceiling stone wall. Most impressive of all, the furnishings in Gombit Hotel are tailor made with comfort and spatial geometry in mind.
Gombit Hotel can be found next to Torre del Gombito, a 13th-century stone tower built as a symbol of power to restrict access to Piazza Vecchia. Today, it is opened to the public, who can scale its 263 steps to discover sweeping views of the city and its surrounding vistas. On clear days, you can even see as far as Milan.
Address: Via Mario Lupo 6, 24129 Bergamo, Italy (see map)
Price: from 301 USD
The Fabulous Central Flat is fabulous for two reasons. First, for its convenient location. The modern flat is located surprisingly close to the historic landmarks in Città Alta, underlining the fact that this city’s best treasures are behind its walls. Second, for its refined design. The monochromatic color scheme of the apartment is anything but dull, oozing sophistication with the owner’s tasteful choice of steel, wood, and glass as the primary materials for its furnishings. Large windows let in an abundance of natural light, reflecting off the white walls to brighten the space naturally.
If such a spacious three bedroom apartment, seated in a prime location, is not reason enough to convince you to rent the property, perhaps the knowledge and affability of the host Anna just might.
Fabulous Central Flat
Price: from 138 USD
Number of Guests: 8
Petronilla Hotel is a boutique hotel in the borough of San Leonardo in Città Bassa. The place is excellent for its attention to detail, be it in meeting the needs of their guests, or in the wooden bathtub and unique decor of its rooms. Its lower ground floor is a wellness zone where you can soak in the wooden hot tub, meditate in the infrared sauna, or request for a deep-body massage.
The 12 rooms of Petronilla are themed according to contemporary art icons such as Caravaggio or Giorgio De Chirico. Depending on the masterpiece featured, the palettes and furniture are matched accordingly. To ensure that you enjoy the most out of Bergamo, the hotel even offers itineraries customised to your schedule and interests.
Address: Via San Lazzaro 4, 24122 Bergamo, Italy (see map)
Price: from 173 USD
Best Western Hotel Cappello d’Oro is a 4 star business hotel in Città Bassa that offers all the modern amenities of a conventional hotel, with the warm hospitality of Bergamo culture. The hotel offers a lavish breakfast spread from 6.30am to get you going nice and early. There is also a sauna and gym to help you unwind after a long day of exploring. Just 5 mins away from Bergamo Train Station, the Best Western is ideal for those visiting the town for a brief stopover.
Best Western Hotel Cappello d'Oro
Address: Viale Papa Giovanni XXIII 12, 24121 Bergamo, Italy (see map)
Price: from 105 USD
The Excelsior San Marco Hotel is another classic option in Città Bassa, just a 15 minute walk away from the funicular. While the rooms are immaculate and well-equipped as is the standard for any 4 star accommodation, it is the Roof Garden Restaurant that leave many visitors raving.
Facing Città Alta, the restaurant has a superb view of the walled city and its soaring bell towers, steeples, and domes. Its all glass design is intended to harmonise the ancient of the outside, with the stylish setting of the inside. In the summer, request for an alfresco seat in the spacious balcony to watch the milling crowds below, as you tuck into a full course Italian meal.
Excelsior San Marco Hotel
Address: Piazzale della Repubblica 6, 24122 Bergamo, Italy (see map)
Price: from 110 USD
In Loft nel cure di Città Alta, the words “sii all'altezza dei tuoi desideri” – be worthy of your desires – is written prominently on the wall. It is not hard to be inspired by such thoughts in this exquisite loft, with its exposed rafters, uncluttered layout, and basic black and white interior that encourages gentle living.
The loft is situated right behind the Duomo. You can get a glimpse of Città Bassa, and even Milan on clear days, through the many windows that brighten the place immensely. Outfitted with a full kitchen and other essential appliances, you can definitely settle in to the apartment for a few nights and experience living in the surreal upper city.
Loft nel cure di Città Alta
Price: from 69 USD
Number of Guests: 4
Porta Dipinta house Upper Bergamo is also a vacation rental located in an energetic part of Città Alta, a mere 550 m (1,804 ft) away from the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. However, the owners of Porta Dipinta chose to accentuate Bergamo’s historicity with parts of the building’s original stone walls left uncovered. Frescoes adorn the bedrooms, affirming the local sentiment that art should be celebrated by everyone, everywhere.
A line of teal green wooden shutters takes you through to a wrought-iron balcony, which overlooks an elegant courtyard. Feel free to sip a glass or two of cool wine under the sheltered patio table, or in the colder months, take your conversation indoors where a cosy lounge and a blazing fireplace awaits.
Porta Dipinta house Upper Bergamo
Price: from 127 USD
Number of Guests: 6
Part of a refurbished farmstead, the vibrant floral rooms of Dimora Le Nove Fate reflect the lush blooms and landscapes surrounding the property. The bucolic retreat sits at the entrance of Brembana, the Bergamo valley 6 km (3.7 mi) from the main town. Legend has it that the stunning valley was formed when nine fairies transformed a lake to trap a fearsome monster.
Parco dei Colli, where the B&B is seated, is a network of walkways, biking paths, and horse riding trails. The best way to enjoy the hill view is from the courtyard, as you tuck into a hearty, homemade Italian breakfast. For those seeking a bit of magic in the old hills, the enchanting estate of Dimora Le Nove Fate beckons.
Dimora Le Nove Fate
Address: Via Rebetta Bassa, 4, 24129 Bergamo, Italy (see map)
Price: from 65 USD
Bergamo, an open air museum
Bergamo is a treasure trove of art, history, and gastronomy. Its mix of architecture is testament to the different cultures that have battled to rule this enchanting city. Città Alta is perfect for those who want to bask fully in the medieval vibe, with piazzas, cathedrals and palaces often just within spitting distance of their doorstep. On the other hand, those who gravitate towards a more familiar stay might prefer the accommodations at Città Bassa. Even then, with the funicular so centrally located, and the shopping streets throbbing with life, you never have to worry about missing out on the excitement in Bergamo.
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