My first visit to Bar Flora was with VT friends Antonio, Elena, Isa and Manuel – though it was not to be my last! We came here for drinks on the Friday evening after dinner in Bassa, as we were the small group staying up in Alta and decided to drink “close to home”. The bar’s location, in one corner of the beautiful Piazza Vecchia, was just perfect. We all found our preferred beverage on the menu (I had an excellent grappa – others drank beer, whisky, tea, limoncello and mojito). There was music and activity in the piazza, as part of the national holiday celebrations, and the evening was pleasantly warm. A super end to the last full day of the meeting.
On later occasions I came here several times for pre-dinner drinks with Chris, and with VTers, and each time was happy with the drinks I chose, the service and especially the location. Given the latter, prices are reasonable here – it is not one of those places where you are charged double for the privilege of sitting in the main square!
This was one of two bars that became favourites during my short stay in Bergamo – my next tip will take us to the other, Ca del Fasa
Chris and I discovered this cosy little bar after dinner on the Saturday evening of the VT weekend, and proceeded to visit it on all three of our evenings together here! It’s perfect for an after-dinner digestif (or two!) There are only a few tables, with a couple strategically placed by the window so you can combine drinking with people-watching. The prices are reasonable and the staff friendly, and there’s a mixed clientele – couples of various ages, a single guy or two drinking beer at the bar and chatting to the staff, maybe a small group of friends. It isn’t large enough, and doesn’t have the right atmosphere, to attract large groups or rowdy drinkers – which suited us fine.
They also serve food but I didn’t check out the menu as we only ever came after dinner. They also appear to have occasional live music, judging by what I found when I did a Google search. I can only imagine that this must be in a back room as it seemed too small for that to me on our visits.
So after our exploration of Alta’s “nightlife” let us continue our explorations by visiting the sights that we saw on the Sunday, starting with the Campanone.
There's one in every town! An Irish pub, that is. And this is Bergamo's offering - and a great offering it is, too.
During our research trips to Bergamo, we had struggled to ever find the place open, but when it came to the crunch - it was open! We had a lovely end of evening here on the Sunday of EurMeet, catching up with friends and generally chatting, putting the world to right!
This public house offers a great selection of beers and whiskeys as well as a generously stocked 'top shelf'.
OPENING HOURS :
Monday : 19:00 - 02:00
Tuesday to Friday : 12:00 - 02:00
Saturday and Sunday : 16:00 - 02:00
Dress Code: Casual.
In March 2012 we walked past this bar during the day on Saturday before returning to it on Tuesday for a drink just before Happy Hour.
In June 2012, we returned during the evening on the Friday of EurMeet. Whilst it refers to itself as a jazz cafe, our evening visit found us presented with a selection of music, none of which was jazz! However, the service was good and prices reasonable.
The bar has indoor seating at the front and rear (with a mezzanine in the rear) as well as outdoor seating.
Dress Code: None observed.
This is a rather stylish Art Deco cafe/bar at the funicular's top station and so ideal for a swift beer whilst waiting for your train - or a slow couple until a car arrives at a time which matches your drinking pace ;-HIC!
In my case it was time for a swift couple and then catch the last train of the night - which I was told would be at midnight.
When I first walked in the place looked deserted apart from a couple of people ordering drinks at the bar but there was a certain tangible atmosphere - just without any obvious crowd to have created it.
So I ordered my beer (another little piece of transplanted Brussels) and then realised upon looking out through the patio doors that the terrace, on a warm early June late evening, was absolutely heaving. Every table was taken with drinkers and diners and no wonder given the night-time view over the lower city.
My couple of beers went down extremely well - a bit pricey but yep this is Citta Alta and a bar with probably one of the best views in Italy. I never did catch that last funicular though - but that's another story.
Unfortunately it was a very quiet night on the Sunday we dropped by here for a late after dinner beer. The bar was characterful enough, service smilingly helpful but with only a few other tables occupied it was a bit lacking in atmosphere.
I should imagine though that when it is busy it rocks and I was particularly impressed with the range of beers on offer - 7 taps and almost 50 bottles with most of them being Belgian including several Trappistes.
I noticed what looked like a Scotish beer amongst the bottled selection - Gordon's "Finest Red" which turned out to be yet another Belgian import but none the worse for that - I loved the thistle-shaped glass too.
Maybe next time I'll catch it on a busier night.
During the day this is a popular cafe/bar with its popular terrace overlooking the Piazza Vecchia. Later in the evening though it becomes much more pubby and on a warm evening the terrace becomes an outdoor drinking den with a good local buzz from both the other customers and from the square in general.
I had one late evening beer here on my way back to the funicular and then dropped by the following afternoon for a couple more before our Sunday dinner which was held across the road at Il Sole.
If I remember correctly beers were a tad on the expensive side - 5 Euros for a small one - but it is a great position - on what has been described as "One of Italy's most beautiful squares.", and Alta is generally more expensive than Bassa anyway.
Whilst in Citta Bassa proper pubs are a bit thin on the ground - most bars are those of cafes and tend to shut relatively early - up in Citta Alta there is a handful of cracking little bars clustered around the main drag from the funicular to Piazza Mascheroni.
Pub Alberto is a characterful little one-room affair, at the start of Via Colleoni, offering an eclectic range of beers - six on tap, plus bottles - which has a proper drinking den atmosphere. Staff are friendly and seem to know what they are selling and on a warm late evening in June the prime position was at one of the window tables. With the windows open you get the best of both worlds by being able to absorb the pub atmosphere and simultaneously take part in the buzzy street life passing by.
During the course of our weekend here I noticed various happenings around both upper and lower Bergamo. We, of course, had a pretty full schedule of our own happenings but should I ever return the first thing I'd do is pick up a copy the local listings magazine - "Bergamo Avvenimenti".
This seems to be a monthly publication produced on behalf of the Provincial and City tourist offices and has a daily diary of all the main events in the city and the region - music, theatre, exhibitions etc. It also has some featured events and a little section of selected "things to do". This is a freebie and copies can be obtained from the tourist offices, hotels and B&B's and I noticed copies in a couple of the bars too.
I was kinda surprised to find that most of the popular bars and cafes seem to close quite early in Citta Bassa - I've since heard a rumour that late licences are difficult to get due to pressure from the church.
On the Friday evening a small splinter group of us - myself, Gareth, Vicky and Alison, were sitting having a beer outside one of the cafes on the main road just up from the Porta Nuova. I'm not sure exactly what time it was, but it wasn't that late, but when we tried to order a second round of beers we were told that the place was shutting. Hmmm...
Fortunately Gareth and Vicky had found a late bar the night before which was close to their hotel and so off we trekked. This turned out to be a quiet little place with only a couple of other tables occupied but at least it was open, the beer was relatively cheap, service pleasant enough and so a few more were enjoyed before we bade each other goodnight and headed our separate ways.
Happy hour can be enjoyed at many of the bars around Bergamo. Vox is located on Via Papa Giovanni XXIII and, therefore, is enjoyed by many of the hotel guests from the hotels located on that road; it is located next door to the Mercure Palazzo Dolci.
We called in on a couple of evenings to enjoy an early drink during Happy Hour (usually lasting from 17:30 to around 19:30). In Bergamo, Happy Hour means that your drinks arrive with a selection of snacks and nibbles which can vary in amount, quality and nature.
In VOX, Happy Hour consists of a full buffet which is spread along the bar and counter spaces, and is regularly replenished when plates and bowls get close to empty.
We ordered our drinks (a draught beer and Aperol Spritz), paying €5.00 each (€6 on Sunday) and soon discovered that this then allowed us to enjoy as much of the buffet as we desired - what a great way to have a cheap evening 'meal'! During our visits we enjoyed bruschetta, potato, crisps, cold meats, olives, salads, dips, slim pizza slices, etc. - all of which were delicious.
The bar also has a restaurant on the upper level to the rear.
Dress Code: Casual - we were there at the end of a day of walking around Bergamo whilst others had clearly finished work for the day.
Caffe Falconi was one of those 'Happy Finds' Handily located between our accommodation and Porta Nuova!
Our first visit co-incided with 'Happy Hour'. I ordered an Aperol Spritz and Gilly opted for a glass of Valcolepia Rosso - a locally produced wine, which Gilly decided was the best that she'd tasted -so far! This cost 9.50 Euros for our 2 drinks
Our 'Happy Hour' nibbles included salted peanuts, crisps, pretzels, bread and thin slices of cold meat (pic 2)
We noticed that there was a selection of plates containing some interesting looking appetisers, but weren't sure if we were entitled to sample these!
Seating outside - a couple of small tables and chairs on the pavement, while the main bar is lined with dark wood shelves containing a vast array of wine bottles (the bar is also a wine shop) and a small selection of preserved foods. Dark wood tables and chairs, provide a comfortable place to relax over a drink and 'people watch'
At the back of the bar, past the 'hidden' WC's, is another room, with seating for about 20 people - this is quite basic. Outside, is a further 'room' a glass box - not sure if this was a smoking area.
The clientele here, were of a 'mature age' (as were the staff)- The Velvet Pub opposite appeared to cater for the younger crowd, with music/karaoke etc.
This felt like an 'established business' where people visit to enjoy a good drink and a chat - no loud music drowning out conversation.
While there is a wide selection of wines -and whisky/spirits, there is only one draught beer pump here.
We returned here on the Sunday night for a nightcap - a glass each of Valcolepio!
We'll Be Back ..........!
Dress Code: Smart Casual appeared to be the norm - Guess there may be a smattering of VT attire the first weekend of June 2012!
Passing by this bar early on Saturday afternoon, we were attracted to the board advertising some imaginatively named beers - think this might be quite popular during EurMeet 2012!
The owner let us have a look around inside - it was quite spacious, with a mezzanine level as well as an inside seating area. Seating outside too.
When we returned on Tuesday afternoon, we were just a bit too soon for 'Happy Hour' but ordered an Aperol Spritz and a draught beer, and enjoyed a rest, while 'people watching'
Dress Code: Not sure - guess it will be a mix of casual and 'smart casual'
This is a great wine bar just off the 'main drag' of Bergamo's Citta Bassa.
We had a few drinks here over the course of our March 2012 visit and chose it as our venue for the First Timer's Gathering during EurMeet.
There is a great selection of wine and even a beer or two available. The venue has a few seats outside on the pavement as well as a seating area in the front near the bar, a rear seating area and an enclosed outside room to the rear.
We had Happy Hour there one evening - which was pleasant, but by no-means the best Happy Hour in Bergamo. The wine selection is extensive with bottles on shelves all around and plenty of options to enjoy with the bar staff being quite happy to make recommendations.
Dress Code: Smart casual - no evidence of anything better than this.
Citta Alta is one of only 3 completely walled Medieval towns in Europe. In days of yore, the heavy gates to the city were closed each night at 22.00hours, to protect the citizens within.
In order to warn the good people of Bergamo (the Bergamaschi), (who of course, didn't sport watches) of the approaching 'lock out', the bells of the Campanone (Torre Civica) were rung - a custom that continues to this day.
So I'd suggest grabbing a seat at one of the bars, and watch as the square starts to fill with others wanting to enjoy the sounds of the Big Bell as it is struck 100 times.
Strangely, during our visit in May, Gillybob and I were positioned in the square, ready .... and nothing! The bells didn't ring, so thinking I'd got the time wrong, we hung around until 22.30 .... again nothing! When I mentioned this to the staff in the Tourist Information Office the next day, they were quite surprised that the bells hadn't rung, and didn't know why they hadn't.
Dress Code: Come as you are.
From September to May it can be quite chilly at night, so bring a jacket/fleece/coat etc.