A 4 night Road Trip from Bergamo

        

Bergamo is a great base for exploring Northern Italy.   Flights into Orio al Serio airport can be very reasonable and while most passengers are happy to transfer directly from the arrivals hall to the Milan shuttle waiting outside the terminal building,  the city of Bergamo itself is well worth a weekend visit and is ideally placed for a road trip to the Italian Lakes or to the towns of Emilia Romagna.

 

Start Point and Finish Point:  Bergamo

Duration: 4 Nights

 

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BERGAMO

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The city of Bergamo  is located just a few kilometres from the airport.   The local bus takes around 20 minutes to travel into town.  If you do intend renting a car, don’t bother with it yet – get a 24 hour Bergamo Card (also available for 48/72 hours) which includes the airport bus and unlimited travel on ATB buses,  trams and funicular railways as well as typical offers and discounts.

 

 

OUT AND ABOUT

Bergamo is structured on two levels – the lower modern city – Citta Bassa – and the upper medieval historical centre – Citta Alta.   The amount of time you have will dictate what to see and do.  Most people head straight for Citta Alta but leave time if possible to look around the lower city.  Here’s a few suggestions to start with…

Ride the Funicolore

Walk the narrow streets of the old town

Have something to eat or drink in Piazza Vecchia and enjoy the architecture and fountain.

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See the whole city from the top of the Campanone

Visit Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore and the Duomo

Admire the marble and decorations of Capella Colleoni

Look at the collection of Italian masterpieces in the Accademia Carrara

 

SLEEPING

People may argue in favour of the atmosphere of the Citta Alta. We were happy to stay in the lower town and opted for Hotel Arli which was conveniently placed close to the airport bus stop and about a 10 minute walk to the funicular.

 

FOOD AND DRINK

At lunchtime, in the Citta Alta, select a slice of pizza from Il Fornaio

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(Window display, Il Fornaio)

For dinner,  La Bruschetta is close to Hotel Arli.  It has a nice atmosphere and a well priced menu.

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(La Bruschetta)

 

MOVING ON:

 

Head back to the airport on the shuttle and pick up your rental.   Get onto the A4 and head for Lake Garda.

 

SIRMIONE

 

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Sirmione may scream ‘tourists!!’  but we decided to stop here because having spent several summers camping on Lake Garda,  we could never face the crowds that flood the town in July and August.   Now we were returning to the lake off season – just before everything shuts down for the winter.   

The only land access to the old town is via a drawbridge and vehicles need a permit to enter.   This permit will be furnished by your hotel if it is located within the walls and has parking facilities.

 

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OUT AND ABOUT

View the lake from the ramparts of Rocca Scaligera

Walk out to the excavated ruins of Grotto di Catullo on the tip of the peninsula

Examine the frescoes in the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore

Wander the streets

Lunch in the main square.

Have an ice cream!

 

SLEEPING

We stayed in Hotel Corte Regina in the old town.   I went on ahead across the moat to locate the hotel before venturing in with the (small!!) car.  There was limited parking space but the hotel will arrange parking outside the walls -which is probably a better option.

 

FOOD AND DRINK

Trattoria la Fiasca is a family run restaurant tucked away on a side street.

 

LAZISE

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There are plenty of lakeside villages and towns around Garda to enjoy but on a short trip, one doesn’t want to spend all the time in the car.   The walled town of Lazise is located between the more popular resorts of Bardolino and Garda but is worth a stopover. The centre is almost fully pedestrianised with the usual narrow streets and piazzas.  

 

OUT AND ABOUT

Walk along the lakeside and around the small harbour

Photograph the medieval fortified walls and gates.  (The castle itself is privately owned and occupied).

Spend an evening browsing the shops.

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SLEEPING

We chose Hotel Le Mura as it had parking facilities.

 

FOOD AND DRINK

Not everywhere was open so we opted for Classique Lazise.  Try and get a table with a view of the lake.

 

 

VERONA

 

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Verona deserves more than a half day sprint but the city is fairly compact and most sights are within walking distance of each other.  It’s a lovely city to stroll around and worth even a short visit.

 

OUT AND ABOUT

Start with these favourites and enjoy:

Piazza delle Erbe

Arena

 

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Basilica di San Zeno Maggiore

Castelvecchio

Arche Scaligere

Check out the graffiti in the courtyard of Casa di Giulietta – and get that balcony photo if you can’t live without it!

 

Enjoy lunch before heading back to the airport.

Have one last ice cream

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MORE TIME? 

Stay on in Verona and enjoy the city.   If it’s opera season then the experience should not be missed.  Bring a cushion!!

or

Explore the lake region.  You could drive around Lake Garda in a day or take a car ferry.  Stop for a night or two in the resort towns.

or

Continue on to Venice from Verona.

 

SMALL STUFF

 

Check opening days and hours for sights and museums

If booking hotels,  make sure you know about parking facilities and charges

Find out about market day  

A lot of hotels and restaurants around the lake are seasonal and close from October

If you’ve a few hours to kill at the airport,  but don’t want to risk heading into Bergamo,  there’s a shopping mall across the road from the airport.

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Photo credit: Tuomo Lindfors on Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-SA

 

 

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