There’s one memory in particular that I associate with the town of Bergamo. Having arrived in Italy for the first time, friends immediately took me to meet their Bergamaschi (= from Bergamo) cousins. The family matriarch, an old woman in a long black dress, met me with “buongiorno” while simultaneously stirring a huge cast iron pot on the fire. (I swear I saw her again years later in the countryside outside of Naples, riding a grocery-laden bike up a steep hill). “Polenta”, she said, pointing at the pot. We left for a walk and arrived back 30 minutes later. The woman was still stirring that darn pot of polenta. She motioned for me to come over and try to stir it. It was difficult, like trying to move very thick mud with a wooden spoon. You know how the story ends: the polenta was our delicious lunch. It was topped with a memorable homemade sauce of locally gathered mushrooms. (Yum.)
On subsequent visits to the town, I got to spend time wandering the medieval streets of Bergamo Alta, the Old Town, and I’m here to recommend you do the same.
Bergamo is only one of many great options for a daytrip from Milan.
So if you’re flying in or out of Milan’s Bergamo airport, Orio al Serio, lucky you. Not only did you most likely get a cheaper flight, you have the opportunity to visit an absolutely gorgeous medieval town. And if you’re not flying out of Bergamo, visit the town as a day trip from Milan. You may not see that old woman stirring polenta, but you’ll get to know a small Italian town with enough medieval atmosphere for a movie setting and very few tourists. Here’s what I recommend.
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