Update on my brother, Mike’s, condition. It has been about seven weeks since his accident on a train in Vicenza, Italy, and just over four weeks since his surgery. I am happy to report that he is still in good spirits, is “cautiously waddling about”, and is continuing to improve. He sends his thanks for all of the concern and well wishes.
Bergamo has two rather distinct identities. For one, the hilltop Città Alta (Upper Town) is a tangle of narrow medieval streets, enclosed by a 5km (3.1mi) Venetian wall. The old upper town looks out over the mostly modern Lower Town (Città Bassa) as it has done for centuries.
We arrived by train in the morning, and being too early to check in to our hotel in the Città Bassa, we stored our backpacks in the hotel’s baggage room and took off for the Città Alta.
Walking toward the base of the massive 15th and 16th century walls, our eyes often glanced upwards at the bell-towers, domes and spires of the ancient upper town in the distance. It was a pleasant walk to where we took the funicular the short ride to the Upper Town.
Wandering as we always do, we made our way to the Piazza Vecchia, a delightful square considered one of the main attractions in the historic upper city. The Piazza is surrounded by a number of beautiful buildings including the Campanone Torre Civica, the Palazzo della Ragione, and a charming central fountain. Also tucked away at one end of the Piazza are the Duomo, the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, and the ornate Colleoni Chapel.
Near the front of the cathedral, under the portico of the Palazzo della Ragione we discovered an analemmatic sundial incorporated into the stone pavers. It was a wonderful piece of technology which, frankly most people (including me initially) didn’t even notice. The dates back to the 18th century. You can see more about it here.
After a delicious lunch at Vineria Cozzi, we continued wandering the medieval city. A stroll along the ancient Venetian Walls started at the Porta San Giacomo, the most architecturally impressive of the four gates that lead through the walls into Bergamo’s Città Alta. From there we followed the walls, lined by large trees and wide garden areas.
Suddenly, we found ourselves at the second of the two funiculars of Bergamo. The first was the one we took from the Città Bassa to the Città Alta. This one went from the Città Alta up further to the Castello di San Vigilio. A fortification has occupied this site since the 6th century, and the views over the surrounding countryside were beautiful. We chose to take the long walk back down from the castle, which was tiring but very pretty.
As we passed back through the old town, there was more evidence of a big event occurring soon. We hadn’t any idea of what was scheduled; however, as we looked closer, it became obvious that tomorrow was to be the day of the 2018 Bergamo Historic Gran Prix, an annual celebration of classic motorsports held inside the ancient walls on the only remaining medieval track in the world. The event has been held since 2004 to commemorate the only time Bergamo hosted a Grand Prix back in 1935. This would be fun.
After stopping for a glass of wine in the Piazza Vecchia to regain our strength, we made our way back to our hotel in the Città Bassa to start thinking about dinner.
The next morning we went out for breakfast at a nearby café with terrible service, but otherwise good food. Then we took the bus up to the Città Alta to scout out some good spots for photographing the Gran Prix (GP). Since the road portion wouldn’t begin until about 14h00 (2:00pm) we had plenty of time to roam about admiring the many vehicles that would be driven in the GP, and were on display in and around the Piazza della Cittadella that served as the paddock area.
The crowds were building, the day was getting warmer, and there was still over an hour before the first vehicles would take to the road. There was only one thing to do … eat gelato! And after satisfying our need for a treat, it was off to the races.