I’m just going to put it out there that today was not my favorite day of vacation. I mean, it was still Italy, so how bad could it be, but cities are not my thing and that’s where I spent the majority of my day. But let’s rewind to this morning, when I still had high hopes for the day. It must be the fresh Italian air… last night was the second night in a row that I slept for almost 10 hours. Or maybe I’m still recovering from jet lag. Either way, the sleep has been glorious. I’m not an alarm clock person at all; I can’t even remember the last time I woke up to my alarm. So when my phone alarm went off this morning, I nearly screamed as I bolted out of bed to turn it off! But it was all good because I was about to embark on my journey to Bergamo.
Bergamo is a medieval city divided into two parts: the lower city, or Città Bassa, and the walled upper city, Città Alta. Città Bassa is newer and the area around the train station was kind of gritty (not unlike the train itself), so after a quick stop at the tourist information office near the train station, I high-tailed it to Città Alta by bus. As we neared Città Alta, we passed through the enormous city gates, dating to the 16th century. Since my bus ticket was also good for the funicular, I took the funicular to Castello San Vigilio, even higher up than Città Alta and overlooking all of Bergamo. I was trying to rush a bit because my ticket expired 75 minutes after I first used it, but I climbed to the top of the castle tower and had an amazing view over Bergamo with the Alps rising in the background. I was all set to take the funicular back down when I saw a sign with a map showing what looked like a walking route back. It was a bit off the beaten path, and I only saw a few people, but the views couldn’t be beat. The “road” was cobblestone the whole way, with much of it stairs. By the time I got back to my starting point, I was tired.
I know you are probably bored reading all this and waiting for me to get to the most important part of the day: food. Well, since I had just done so much walking, I figured I deserved a gelato. I mixed some kind of mascarpone with caramel and stracciatella in a small cone. Not 10 minutes later, I passed this cute little cafe, Il Fornaio, with about a million pizzas/sandwiches lined up in the window. It was calling to me. The one with bacon, cheese, and balsamic. I don’t even know what it was… pizza? sandwich? pizzawich? Whatever it was, it was sooooo good. I finished that off and dug into the enormous meringue I bought for dessert. I know. Sometimes I amaze myself with how much I can manage to pack away in one sitting. I couldn’t finish the pizza thing, but made quick work of the meringue.
The streets of Città Alta are narrow and filled with all kinds of shops selling meats, cheeses, and the specialty of the city: polenta. I had to work off my lunch before I could rationalize any more food. Off to Piazza Vecchia. This is about the time I started to tire of the city and wanted to head back to Varenna. Both churches were closed and the streets were mobbed with people. The woman at the tourist office in Città Alta recommended a stop at the Remembrance Park so I took a look around and admired the view. Then I took one last walk down the main road, Via Bartolomeo Colleoni, and headed toward the city wall. I squished into the funicular going down to Città Bassa, hopped on a bus to the train station and managed to get on the 3:08 train to Lecco, connecting to Varenna. I basically spent 5 hours in the city and by the end of it, I couldn’t wait to leave. I should have just picked another village on the lake to visit.
The day turned around once I returned to Varenna and the lake. I took a break for a little while and then headed to Caffe Varenna for a snack. (I can hardly call it dinner after the food I already consumed today!) A table by the lake, a Hugo Spritz, and Gorgonzola, pear, honey, and nut bruschetta helped to put the city far behind me. Tomorrow I’m headed to another country for the day!