Sunday, May 06, 2012

Bergamo, Italy

Today is our last day in Italy, but with a departure set for 8:30 pm, there is no reason not to seize the day, Carpe Diem and all that good stuff. Before someone tries to correct me, I do know that carpe literally means "to pluck". I did my home work. With that said, we are off to Bergamo for the day. We checked out of the hotel, but left our things there for safe keeping. 

The train to Bergamo only cost 5.15 Euros one way for each of us. We were easily able to purchase the tickets at the self-serve machine. Travel time is less than an hour. 

Bergamo is divided into two 'cities', the lower city at the foot of the hill is called Cittá Bassa, the modern part of the city. When you get off of the train and walk out, your immediate reaction is "Why am I here?". It takes a couple of blocks for it to sink in as to why. However, from the train station, you can catch the number 1A bus to the funicular. The bus ticket/funicular combo is 1.20 Euros. The funicular takes you up the hill to Cittá Alta, the ancient village surrounded by the old Venetian walls. The funicular was built in 1887 to save the upper city from the isolated lower city. This isolation put the upper city into economic crisis.The two cities became one.

There are two funicular tracks with the right track being 240 meters, while the left track is 234 meters. The gradient is 52% and each car can take 50 passengers at a time. 

Being Sunday, having been to a number of churches and attractions, we took this at a slower pace. There are a number of shops to browse in the windows, but closed on Sunday or only open later in the day. There is a cake that is a specialty here, displayed in all bakery and food shops. It is made from polenta. The larger versions were expensive, so we waited to get a small sample size on our way back to town.

We walked the city, went into the obligatory church, traipsed the local neighborhoods getting well off the tourist tract, found a seminary that was gated (probably to prevent escape). Finally, stomach groans demanded we return to the center for a meal. Outdoor seating seemed to be the logical choice. We found a table at a busy restaurant. The service was horrendous as one waiter had to deal with dozens of potential diners. More pictures are here.

By the time we were able to give our drink order, the wind started to kick up. When a table under an umbrella vacated, I moved us there. Moments later, the rain started with forceful winds that blew the humongous umbrella around like a dried leaf. We made a run for the inside. Yet another meal was had that was tasty, but would not win any culinary awards. 

On the way to the funicular, we were going to buy the polenta orsi di Bergamo, but all of the stores selling the mini-size were closed for the afternoon, not reopening until long after we departed. We were forced into buying a larger size if we were to try it at all. 

From the funicular, we walked back to the station with time to spare, had a drink at the station restaurant, making this a leisurely return. Once back in Milan, we went for our carry-on luggage, walked back to the train station, and hopped on the airport bus. 

Returning, Wizz weighed our carry-on pieces, but did not make us put them in their metal sizing template. Going, the did make us fit them into the metal template to size them, but did not weigh them. Interestingly, though this was a secondary airport, they had an airline lounge and they accepted Diners Club memberships. We were able to hang out there until our flight, which was delayed by forty-five minutes, making the lounge all the more appreciated. 

We really packed a lot into our four days.
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