At the start of the pandemic in Europe, Italy was the first to report cases of COVID-19, and from there it spread rapidly. Bergamo, a quiet but picturesque town in Northern Italy, had the dubious distinction of having the hardest-hit hospital in the hardest-hit area in the country. The human cost of COVID-19 in Bergamo is obviously incalculable but there’s also a financial side to it, with lockdowns and closures leaving families and businesses struggling to cope. More than 10,000 people lost their jobs between the months of March and June, with a decrease in tourism of nearly 70 per cent compared to the previous year.
Adopt a Town: Bergamo is an initiative between Omio and Visit Bergamo to boost tourism to the region. Local residents and influencers, Federica Di Nardo and Nicolo Balini, developed itineraries to promote the beauty of their hometown.
Galleria Berliat offers art and antiques for your perusal. Credit: Stefania Zanetti The iconic Bar Balzer dates back to 1850. Credit: Stefania Zanetti
“Bergamo has been strongly affected by Covid-19,” says Di Nardo. “But you know, the population here is pretty much determined and once a problem comes, everyone tries to find the best ways to solve it.”
Di Nardo and Balini showcase the unique destinations and places in and around Bergamo, from its cultural institutions to its food and verdant valleys. Balini waxes poetic about the places to visit both inside and outside the city.
“You can’t miss Città Alta with its walls recently appointed as UNESCO World Heritage Site [sic],” says Balini. “[For nature,] camping with a tent at the Diga del Gleno would be spectacular, especially with the perfect starry night.”
Bergamo local and nature enthusiast Nicolò Balini waxes poetic about the region. Credit: Stefania Zanetti Polenta taragna, a Bergamo specialty, is the perfect treat. Credit: Stefania Zanetti The valleys surrounding Bergamo are teeming with wildlife. Credit: Stefania Zanetti
Both Di Nardo and Balini agree that Bergamo, which was recently named a Capital of Culture for 2023, is the perfect destination for the holidays. While many of the usual festivities are on hold this year, Bergamo still offers some holiday traditions.
The festive season kicks off on November 14 with the opening of the traditional Christmas market at Piazzale Alpini. The Santa Lucia and Donizetti Theatre markets will commence in December. Locals are also looking forward to the annual panoramic Ferris Wheel, which affords breathtaking views of the city and its surrounding valleys. In the mood for some music? Don’t miss the Festival Donizetti Opera 2020 with a socially distanced opening gala on November 19 featuring his most famous work, “Belisario.” A second performance is slated for November 26.
Book your trip to this UNESCO World Heritage town from now until December and Omio will donate part of the proceeds to the Bergamo Support Fund, set up in May to help families and businesses financially affected by the pandemic.