OK. So we arrive at the Orio al Serio Airport and we need to get to our Hotel ARLI in Bergamo. After picking up our luggage, we headed for the ground transportation area - easy to find as the airport is not that big. We find the ticket vending machinges, but as I was not familiar yet with using them, I simply bought two tickets at the ticket booth. The Aeroporto Bus tickets were 2 Euros each. We then walked outside the airport and saw the area where the ATB #1 AEROPORTO BUS stop is. We boarded the bus with our luggage, validated our tickets in one of the machines, located at the front and rear of the bus. The ticket is stamped with time and date and is good for 90 minutes. It's about 15 minutes to reach the Bergamo Train Station which is the first stop. We got off at the Best Western stop, which is one stop further than the train station. We got off, crossed the street and our ARLI Hotel was just a few meters from the corner. I have to thank Sue, Suvanki, for her most excellent instructions.
Later in the week, Friday, I went to the ATB (Azienda Transporti Bergamo) Office at Largo Porta Nuova and bought a 3 day - 3 Giorni - ticket for 7 Euros. It is good for a 72 hour period, from the time you first validate it. There is also a 24 hour ticket available for 4,50 Euros. The ticket is good for ATB Buses, including the Aeroporto Bus, both funiculars and Trams - so excellent value.
Buses run 6:00 a.m. to midnight.
Since the Aeroporto Buses don't run until 6:00 a.m. and we had an early flight Tuesday morning (6:30 a.m.), we needed to take a taxi to the airport. Our hotel made arrangements for us to be picked up at 5:00 a.m. Our driver was right on time and was very courteous and helped us load our luggage. He charged us 25 Euros.
As we were mostly using public transportation over the weekend, the first time I validated my 3-day ticket, was Friday morning, so now it is good until Monday morning. You do not have to validate it again, only be sure you have it handy if asked for it.
Friday, we wanted to go to Citta Alta, to check out where the Saturday Night dinner was and to do some exploring and picture taking. We went to the bus stop across the street from the Best Western and got on the 1A CITTA' ALTA BUS. I validated our 3-day tickets at the machine located in the rear of the bus. This bus (pic #1) originally starts at the Bergamo Bus Station (pic #2).
It goes up Papa Giovanni XXIII, passes the ATB Office at Largo Porta Nuova and continues on and then veers right to the Funicular Station to Citta Alta (where you can get off if needed). It then continues on Vittorio Emanuel II and passes Porta S. Agostina. Then it follows Viale Delle Mura and passed Porto S. Giacomo. Final stop is the "Stazione" near Largo Colle Aperto. After waiting there a bit, it turns around and goes to the bus stop across the street, for the return trip to Citta' Bassa.
Linking Lower Town - Citta' Bassa - with Upper Town - Citta' Alta, is the CITTA' ALTA FUNICOLARE. The first Funicular was built in 1887. In 1917, the system was completely overhauled to increase capacity and reduce service interruptions. It was turned into a two lift system, on a gradient operated by separate winches. In 1963-1964, two new panoramic carriages were installed, with a capacity for 50 passengers.
Length of Line - Right - 240 meters - Left - 234 meters.
Hans and I used this funicular a couple of times during our stay in Bergamo. Our ATB 3-Day ticket included use of the funicular, so we just had to present it to the operator to get on. Otherwise it is 2 Euros for a ticket which you can purchase from the ticket machine.
The Funicular Station (pic #4) is along the 1A Citta Alta Bus Route and there is a stop right across the street from the Station.
Hours of Operation:
Monday to Friday 7:00 a.m. to 24:00
Saturday 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.
Sundays and Holidays 7:30 a.m. to 24:00
Linking Citta' Alta with San Vigilio Hill, is the SAN VIGILIO FUNICOLARE. Hans and I had the opportunity to go on it, on Sunday night. We met up with KShezz and hubby on the same Citta Alta Funicular. It was still early for dinner, so they invited us to accompany them to San Vigilio. Making our way through the old town, we then met up with Holger, YumYum, Nyperose and Dila. As they hadn't yet gone up the San Viigilio Funicular either, they came along with us. What a hoot!
So we, all eight of us, went up to San Vigilio. What spectacular views up there. It was a little misty, but still beautiful.
A little history of the Funicular. It first began operating on August 27, 1912. After operating for over half a century, the service was suspended in 1976. The system needed upgrading to meet new safety regulation and in 1984 designs were prepared for a radical revamp. Work on the new service began in 1987 and began operating again in 1991.
Length of line - 630 meters.
One carriage with a capacity for 55 passengers.
Hours of Operation: Monday to Friday 10.15 to 19.50
Saturday 10:15 to 23:00
Sundays and Holidays 9:00 to 22:30
We used our 3-day Pass to use the San Vigilio Funicular. We just presented our Pass to the operator and we were allowed on. Otherwise, tickets are available at the ticket machine for 2 Euros.
Bergamo has many transport options, but the T1 tram is its only tram and runs a route from Bergamo, through it's suburbs and out to the Lower Seriana Valley to its largest village of Albino.
Starting from Bergamo FS (just alongside the train station), stops along the route include :
with its destination terminus at Albino.
Tickets for the tram should be purchased prior to boarding and validated once on board. Fares for individual journeys can be found here.
Alternatively, if you have a 24 or 72 hour tourist transport ticket (available from the ATB office at Porta Nuova and from Tabacchi throughout Bergamo), then the T1 tram is included as it is part of the ATB transport system.
The first section of the journey, from Bergamo FS through to Torre Boldone is through Bergamo's suburbs and views range from apartment blocks to houses, derelict buildings to modern office blocks, grafitti sprayed walls to scrap yards and often offer little to please the eye. However, once you pass Torre Boldone, the scenery opens up and the first views of hills can be seen with villages dotted along the hillsides.
At Ranica, within a short walk of the tram stop, you will find the start of a walk/cyclepath that will take you through the Lower Seriana Valley alongside the River Serio and can be followed all the way out to Clusone (if desired).
A dedicated website (only in Italian) gives extensive details about the T1 tram route whilst the link below gives a map and access to the route timetable on a site available in English.
It is possible to transport your bicycle on the T1 tram (with hire available in Bergamo). Your tram ticket allows the transportation of 1 bike per person. On weekdays and Saturdays the number of bicycles is limited to a maximum of 4 bicycles without prior reservation (it is prohibited to transport bicycles during the peak hours of 06:20 to 8:40, 12:30 to 14:30, 17:30 to 19:00).
On holidays and Sundays a maximum of 10 bikes with reservations required by calling 035 3692351 before 17:00 on the third day before the trip (e.g. on Thursday if the trip is on Sunday).
Journey duration from Bergamo FS to Albino is approximately 30 minutes.
Bergamo's train station is located at the bottom of Via Papa Giovani XXlll. It's easy to get to from either Citta Bassa or Citta Alta, with or without luggage!
Outside there is a taxi rank if needed and also bus stops within a very short distance. Inside, there is a counter where you can queue to get your train ticket/s off a person and also self-service machines where you can purchase your ticket/s with cash or by card.
When using the ticket machines you initially have a choice of which language you would like, for example, Italian, German, English. I find them really simple and easy to use. You can choose your desitnation and departure point so you can buy multiple tickets for a selection of journeys at one time.
The train station itself is small. It has 5 platforms, and to reach these platforms you must go under them (pic 5). Only platform 1 and 1 Ovest are the platforms that you straight out on to.
There is also a coffee shop, a place to grab something to eat and a shop that sells sweets, cigarettes, magazines and bus tickets.
When Hans was doing research on how to get to Bergamo, we at first were going to fly into Milan. When checking further with Expedia, he found that we could fly from Toronto to Frankfurt and then directly to Bergamo, using Lufthansa for the main flight and Air Dolomiti for the local flight. It worked out very well, but the cost was more than we usually pay when we fly to Europe. The price was $2,250.00 CDN for the two of us. I didn't mind to pay extra for the convenience of getting to Bergamo directly, especially since we had an early morning flight (6:30 a.m.) going back home.
ORIO AL SERIO AIRPORT is located 5 km from Bergamo and 45 km from Milan. It is connected to many Italian and European destinations. It is also a very user friendly airport.
The picture shown is of Lufthansa planes in Frankfurt
The funiculars are operated by the same company as the buses, and you can use the same tickets on both. The most useful one of the two is probably that connecting Bassa and Alta, which whisks you from bottom to top (or vice versa, naturally) in just a few minutes. The first time I used it was soon after arriving at my hotel in Alta, when I travelled down to Bassa to meet up with the other early arrivals for the Euromeeting.
The funicular’s Alta terminal is in the Piazza Mercato delle Scarpe. There are two tracks either side of the small station. Most of the time I found just one funicular there and boarded that, waiting only a few minutes for it to depart. But on one occasion both were at this upper station. Count-down signs seemed to indicate that one of these was about to depart, but I realised that the sign wasn’t moving, so I asked the operator. Yes, this would be the next funicular, he told me, but when I pointed to the sign he just shrugged – clearly these should be taken with a pinch of salt!
The brief ride down (about five minutes’ duration) is an opportunity for some great views. Stand at the front of one of the two carriages (or naturally at the back if riding up) to see Bassa gradually revealed beneath you. At the foot you will see the bus stop for bus #1 immediately in front of you, which will take you to the heart of Bassa at the Porta Nuova, beyond this to the railway station, or even further to the airport. On almost every occasion that I rode the funicular down to Bassa, a bus arrived within seconds, but don’t count on this – on the last morning when we took this route to the airport, we waited at least ten minutes for our bus.
The first service from Alta to Bassa is at 7.00 AM, and from Bassa to Alta at 7.10 AM. The last one down is around midnight (later on Fridays and Saturdays) and the last up slightly later.
On this first occasion, I was as impressed by the service as on all subsequent ones – frequent, fast and fun! Once down in Bassa, I boarded the #1 bus that would take me to the Porta Nuova, and an evening with friends.
Read now about the very good restaurant where we ate that first evening.
Bergamo has a good bus network, mainly serving Città Bassa, but with one line (#1) climbing the hill to Alta. Some of the #1 buses also serve the airport, and, as they link airport, railway station, Bassa and Alta, are the most useful of all for the tourist.
There are various tickets available. When I first arrived in Bergamo I bought a biglietto turistico 3 giorni from the small tobacconist / newsagent kiosk in the station. This cost €7 (2012 price) and could be used on all buses and funiculars in the city for a 72 hour period from first use. To indicate this first use it is important to validate the ticket by punching it in one of the machines on the bus as soon as you board. After this first validation there is no need to do so again.
When that ran out I bought a 24 hour ticket to cover me on the last day, which with careful timing I was able to use for a trip from Alta to Bassa on one day and for our journey to the airport on the next. Note that if you plan to use the ticket to travel to the airport you must get the dearer all zones ticket (€4.50 in 2012), not the city-only one (€3). You can buy tickets at any tabacchi – these display a large T outside.
The buses seemed to me to be pretty reliable and regular, but on a weeknight they finish quite early, and even before they finish, they become very sparse – as I found to my cost! On the first evening in Bergamo I left my group of friends at around 22.15 to head back to my hotel in Alta (they were all staying in Bassa), only to find that there was only one more bus that evening, and that not due for nearly an hour, at 23.10! I was faced with the choice of a long wait, a climb up the hill (and, new to the city, I was unsure of the way) or an expensive taxi. I chose the latter, but had I known about the scarcity of buses I think I would have sacrificed the ice cream I had enjoyed for dessert and left a bit sooner.
But I am getting ahead of myself! Having taken my first bus, #1 from the station to Alta, it was time to head to my accommodation in the Agnello d'Oro, subject of my next tip.
I travelled to Bergamo by train from Ancona, via Bologna and Milano. Of the several train journeys I took while in Italy on this trip, the one from Ancona to Milano was the only one on an intercity train, and I discovered that it was a much more relaxing and comfortable experience than the older, scruffier (but much cheaper) regional ones. My window seat had table space, a socket for phone or laptop, and a reasonable amount of leg room. There was also plenty of space for my small suitcase between it and the seat behind. Reserved seats aren’t marked as such, by the way, so it’s important to sit in the one assigned to you as otherwise you could find you’ve taken that allocated to someone else and will be asked to move.
The train left about 10 minutes late but that was the only delay. The four hour journey to Milano passed uneventfully. I enjoyed looking out at the scenery, although for the most part this was less striking than on my train journey from Rome to Gubbio at the start of the holiday – but you do get to travel right by the sea for the first few miles, which is nice. A trolley serving refreshments came past a few times and I bought a caffe normale for €1.20 which turned out to be a pseudo-espresso made with instant coffee granules and very little water. I like strong coffee but instant coffee served this strong has too bitter an aftertaste, so I don’t think I’d bother on any future journey.
We arrived in Milano Centrale just a couple of minutes behind schedule, having made up most of the 10 minutes en route. There was plenty of time for me to buy a sandwich before boarding my regional train to Bergamo , and I was impressed by the quality considering I bought it from a newsagent type shop rather than go down to the lower level and back with my luggage.
The regional train was much smaller and scruffier, and also rather too hot. I was glad the journey was only 40 minutes or so. Arriving in Bergamo was a bit of a shock after the quiet of Gubbio – large groups of tourists milling around in the small station made it hard to move around, and I was glad of the helpful directions provided by the meeting organisers.
I bought my biglietto turistico 3 giorni and headed for the bus, the subject of my next tip.
Bergamo is served by an hourly (weekday) direct train service from Milan's Central Station. This journey takes a little less than 50 minutes and includes stops at Milan Lambrate, Pioltello-Limito and Verdello-Dalmine before arriving at Bergamo. Second class tickets on this service cost €4.70 (with only one class of carriages provided).
The service from Milan Central is provided by very comfortable carriages with upper and lower seating areas taking you through the suburbs of Milan before entering countryside scenery and transitioning into the suburbs of Bergamo.
Bergamo is also serviced by an hourly (weekday) direct service from Milan's Porta Garibaldi station. This journey takes a little less than 1 hour and 10 minutes and includes stops at Milan Greco Pirelli, Sesto S. Giovanni, Monza, Arcore, Carnate-Usmate, Paderno-Robbiate, Calusco, Terno and Ponte S. Pietro before arriving at Bergamo. Second class tickets on this service cost €4.05 (I have not travelled on this service but will presume that, like other trains I have boarded, there is no differential seating for 1st or 2nd class).
Costs quoted were valid in May 2011.
I am so in love with the VESPA SCOOTER. I really wanted to take one home with me, especially one vintage blue scooter I saw. (pic#1)
Enrico Piaggio wanted to address Italy's need for a modern and affordable mode of transportation for the masses. The inspiration for the design of the VESPA dates back to the pre WWII Cushman Scooter, which were made in Nebraska. These scooters were in Italy in large numbers and used by the U.S. Military as field transport.
A patent was filed for the VESPA Scooter design in April, 1946.
In recent years, many urban commuters have purchased new or restored Vespas. A shortage of available parking for automobiles in large urban areas, maneuverability in traffic and the Vespa's low maintenance costs are reasons for the popularity of the scooter. And they're just so darned cute.
VESPA 's largest market globally is Italy. They are everywhere in Bergamo
The BERGAMO TRAIN STATION (Pic#4)is located in Lower Bergamo, on Piazza Guglielmo Maroni. It was a short ten minute walk from our Hotel ARLI. The Trains are directly connected to Milan, Lecco and Brescia (with connections for Lake Garda, Verona and Venice).
The journey from Bergamo to Lecco takes about 40 minutes. Hans and I, along with Kate (goodfish) and hubby Jerry, took the train to Lecco on Saturday, as we wanted to visit Varrena and Bellagio for the afternoon.
Tickets to Varrena were 20,60 Euros for the two of us, return.
We took the 9:00 a.m. train and got into Varenna about 10:30 a.m. Things went very smoothly going, but on our return trip - that is another story!. We planned on taking the 3:00 train back, and we were at the station at 2:45 p.m., but because it was a public holiday, trains were running on a different schedule. We waited and waited in Varrena for the train to come. Finally an hour and a half later it finally came. The same thing in Lecco. Bottom line, we didn't get into Bergamo until 6:30 p.m.
Bergamo is famous for its two funiculars.
One runs up to Citta Alta from Citta Bassa, and the other runs from Citta Alta up to San Vigilio.
The Citta Alta funicular made its first journey in 1887, The track is 230m long, with a gradient of 52%. There are two coaches, each of which can hold 50 people (that would be very squashed, I think!).
The San Vigilio funicular opened in 1912. Just one coach (taking 55 people) on a longer, less steep track: 630m and gradient 22%. This funicular closed in 1976, but was restored and re-opened in 1991. This is the funicular used by Herman Hesse (apparently this fact is an important one to note).
The Citta Alta funicular starts earlier and runs later into the evening than the S Vigilio one. You can find timteables under 'linee e orari' on the ATB site below.
Both funiculars are covered by the one or three-day tickets which also cover all urban bus routes.
Bergamo is well placed for getting to other nearby towns by public transport. We decided to spend a day at Lake Iseo (Lago d'Iseo) not as well known as Lakes Como, Garda or Maggiore, which was part of the attraction, and only an hour away by bus.
The bus station is opposite the train station, and adjacent to the Tourist Information Office, where the staff advised on the best places to visit, and the best way to get there. We had hoped to use the ferries to reach different towns, but realised that the timings of the ferries didn't allow for us to do this, if we were to catch the bus back to Bergamo. We decided that the bus to Lovere would give us the chance to explore at least one of the lakeside towns, and get a view of Lake Edine on our journey.
www.navigazionelagoiseo.it Tel - 035.971 482 for ferry timetables/ fares etc.
The sab-autosevizi (S.A.B. bus company) operate bus services to the nearby lakes and mountains, including to Lovere
Telephone +39 035 28 90 00;
Buses from Bergamo to Lovere depart every half hour from the bus station. We had allowed plenty of time to purchase our ticket. The ticket office in the bus station had a small queue. The lady who served us was efficient and spoke good english. A return ticket cost 7.80 Euros - this is validated on the bus, which we caught at 10.05 from platform 12.
Inside the bus station is a cafeteria, where you can grab a quick drink and snack.
The bus was quite comfortable (sit on the right side of the bus for views of Lake Edine). It was quite a pleasant journey, with views of snow capped mountains, fields and small villages. We enjoyed our day out in Lovere too - There was enough to see and do, but leaving enough for a return trip! We caught the bus back to Bergamo late afternoon.
Bus services from Bergamo