Welcome to the blog! So its first post time and I have decided to tell you all about a recent trip to Bergamo to visit my friend Kat. Between eating, drinking and taking in the sights, I also found time to find out a few things about Italian cuisine and I hope to share this with you here in the next while but first, I want to introduce you to the beautiful bijou city of Bergamo.
On the flight to Bergamo, you may be lucky enough to see the snow-covered Alps and the shimmering lakes speckled across the Italian landscape. I did, as it was a clear day, and it was quite a spectacle!
While researching accommodation for the trip, I saw that a lot of people recommended staying in the Citta Alta (Upper Town) but we found good value in the Hotel Excelsior San Marco which is a lovely hotel in the Citta Bassa (Lower Town) very close to the cable car or funiculore to the Citta Alta. This hotel also has a Michelin starred rooftop restaurant but, at the moment, it was quite out of our price range!
During our trip, we tended towards the medieval Citta Alta as this is the more traditional part of the town. The tram or funicular is reminiscent of the tram to the peak of Hong Kong but the trip is short and sweet and at nightfall, the locals also head to the Citta Alta to eat, drink and catch up with family and friends. The unmistakeable sound of chattering Italians weaves its way though the winding, cobbled streets and hits you as soon as you step off the funicular carriage.
I don’t need to tell you (but I will anyway!) that the food was amazing. One of the specialities of Bergamo is their very own meat filled pasta called Casoncelli alla Bergamesca. This is served in butter and topped with parmesan and is not, in any way, for those who are watching their waistline!
There were so many things I wanted to try but even I, a person who is constantly hungry, could not fit any more meals into the day than the standard three so risotto, insalata caprese and many other things had to be culled from my to-eat list. I did, however, come across Torte della Nonna, a sweet tart filled with ricotta cheese and pine nuts, and Bombolinos, a filled doughnut with a chocolate filling. My waistline has not thanked me for this discovery!
On the final night of our stay, we found this beautiful, bustling, traditional restaurant, Albergo de la Sole, full to the brim of locals, and with pizzas, whole fish, and risotto flying out of the kitchen. We were seated near the kitchen and almost ended up with whiplash from staring at every plate that left the kitchen. This final night was reserved for pizza and oh, what a pizza! Crispy base, sweet tomato sauce, stringy mozzarella and salty parma ham on top. It is a testament to that pizza that my friend, who is living in Italy for a year, still says that it is the best pizza that she has tasted in Italy. Dessert was the Lemon Sorbet and the lightest Tiramisu I have ever tasted. Such a contrast to the rich, heavy Tiramisu we get in Ireland. After dinner alcoholic beverages included Amaretto and Vin Santo (along with my new favorite drink, Spritz!).
All in all, it was a great trip and, if you are any way into food at all, then Italy really is the ultimate place to go. Bergamo is a lovely little city but if you tire quickly of the Citta Alta then Milan and other bigger cities are but an hours train ride away.