Saturday, March 19, 2011

Bergamo, not just a Turkish rug

Bergamo is a nice town about 40 mins drive from Milan. It is divided between Città Alta (High town), the oldest part, and Città Bassa (Low town), the newer part. Città alta is a typical medieval town, with nice middle age churches, a fantastic square and little shops selling chocolates, oils, clothes, post cards and Italia soccer shirts, (providing for most tourist everyday needs). The old and new town are linked by a funicular that was built in 1887, it was one of the first of its kind built in Italy.  Squished in like sardines, we made our way to the top with out too many squeals of complaint and personal space issues being voiced, (cheated a little as I threw a lolly in little ones mouth).

Call me 'snappy happy' but Bergamo Old Town seemed to provide a post card moment every corner I turned.  Protected by more than 5km of heavy duty walls, the town boasts medieval streets and alleyways that are shadowed by the numerous looming towers and belltowers.

Exiting from the funicular we headed up the main street to locate the information point and collect a map.  We were sidetracked by churches, frescos, fountains, chocolate shops and crazy eyed men shaving ham off pig hooves.

Daughter making a chocolate wish list
Would you buy ham from this man?

Before we knew it, we had arrived in the Piazza Vecchia.  Here we admired the beautiful surroundings and giggled at our daughter, (dressed like a princess, but holding her crutch with the inside of her elbow and ankles crossed), "I need to pee pee, I need to pee pee".  We found a free table in the piazza and set up camp; preparing for food, wine, an instant play centre and some serious people watching.  Strange how displaying 3 mini barbies, a london bus, a wind up Santa and tinkerbells friend in the ashtray and serviette holder can diminish the urge to pee??  "I don't need to pee, I just need to play!"  (She obviously does not have the bladder control of a mum who has given birth to 2 baby hippos...) Our prince slept in the pram coinciding with the initial half hour of poor table service we received, but true to form, woke when the delicious meal arrived.

casonsèi, ravioli stuffed with meat, local specialty

eggplant parmigiana

grilled vegetables and brie cheese

"I am queen of the world!"

Get that bell!

View of the Duomo
 Our daughter kept fleeing our table to climb the stairs of the Torre Civia, (Civic Tower), also known as Big Bell, (pretty self explanatory), so this was auto matically next on our adgenda.  Like 'Charlie and the Glass Elevator', we sped to the top of the 52 metre tower at high speed and were greeted by splendid views, down upon Piazza Vecchia, over the roofs of the historical centre, and towards the Alps.  On a really clear day you are supposed to be able to see the high rises in Milan.  We had the viewing platform to ourselves, so we took plenty of photos, played in a hanging Italian flag, and I chanted "I'm the queen of the world" to myself, (like Leonardo Decaprio in Titantic, it was just one of those moments).  The old bell of the tower sounds 100 times at 10pm everynight to symbolise the curfew time when the gates to the old town used to close.  How sentimental, I am sure the local residents with young children would love that!

After hovering over the duomo, we went 'down and out' to enter the masterpiece.  Twice in a week I have found myself sitting in a church looking like I am praying intently for the health of others, but really thinking "wow, cool art".  Beautiful frescos illuminated by the natural light of the windows on the dome, crisp fresco all with gold tips, appeared 3 dimensional.  It was so pretty and we remained inside until our children remembered the 'power of the echo'.  There was a crypt right next door, (advice, never underestimate the powerful beauty of a good crypt), so we quickly entered.  Its beauty was forbidden to be captured on film; please feel free however to purchase a fridge magnet, keyring or postcard from the makeshift tourist stand set up in the corner of the crypt...what the???


I wanted to lay down a mattress and take in the view!

Next stop Rocca (Fortress), we were off to slay some dragons and rescue a princess, but our princess fell asleep in the pram so there was no need to play out the theatrics when we arrived.  The Fortress was erected into an arsenal and housed into the first gun powder factory; turned into a barrack; turned into a prison; turned into a Bombardies School; turned into an antique relics house; turned into a historcal museum.  That's a lot of turning! This was a good chance for our prince to strech his little legs; soul mate to take in the cheers from a football game held over 2 kms away; princess to snore; and for me to catch a nunn pinching flowers and to reflect in the beauty so close to our home.

I am presuming it was the nunns garden?

Special steps for a prince!

Bergamo is more than just a name for a Turkish rug or the name of the town where you catch an aeroplane; it is a great day visit.

IF Interesting Fact
Bergamo endured extremely much less damage through World War II, than the surrounding areas, so there is still 'heaps of old stuff'.

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