I arrived in Bergamo via BlaBlaCar, with a driver who spoke barely any Spanish or English but with whom I managed to talk for almost 2 hours inventing an Italian-Spanish pidgin. (I’ve invented a new language; does this mean I get to meet Noam Chomsky???) I was physically exhausted from the Swing Train Festival and mentally exhausted from trying to remember to say “per favore” and “perche” instead of “por favor” and “porque”, the linguistic conversion between Spanish and Italian. The only hostel in Bergamo is up in the hills, with nary a restaurant within 10 minutes walking. (Luckily my BlaBlaCar driver was nice enough to drop me off at the door.) I was thinking of ordering a pizza, watching some Netflix, and falling straight asleep. I was only in Bergamo because I had an early flight the next morning. I was ready to cuddle under my scratchy blankets and not think about the cold, drizzly, decidedly un-spring-like weather.
About an hour after my arrival (after taking a much-needed shower but before I had determined where to order my pizza from), this girl Maria checked into the room. She was on her way back to Greece from Switzerland, where she had been working in a ski resort. She had a recommendation for a restaurant in the Città Alta, the old town of Bergamo. I told her I would’ve gone, but since it would take at least an hour by bus then on foot that I had decided to order pizza and stay in.
“Oh, come on, really??” she said. “This is your only night in Bergamo! We have to go see the city! There’s this beer I want to try!”
What can I say? I guess “yolo” is a pretty strong argument. Even when it’s almost 9 p.m. and you just wanted some food.
I grudgingly put on my coat and by the time we got off the bus and starting hiking up the hill, we saw one of the gates to Città Alta and I forgot to be cold, to be annoyed, to be grumpy. Bergamo is truly one of the prettiest Italian cities, even in the dark.
We scaled the streets (it’s called the Città Alta for a reason), taking pictures with the fog and drizzle, turning down the wrong street twice, and finally came to our restaurant, Il Circolino.
Can I just say that after that meal, I am so glad Maria was not content to let me stay in and eat cheap pizza. I would say that I’ve never had a bad meal in Italy, but some are certainly better than others. And maybe it was the long walk, or the fact that I hadn’t eaten since mid-day, but that meal was amazing and just think how much less complete, less fulfilled my life would be if some Greek girl hadn’t browbeaten me into getting off my ass for the only night in this obscure Italian city.
- Mushroom polenta cakes with a sauce made from some special local cheese
- Casconcelli alla bergamasca, a beef and lamb ravioli specific to Bergamo served with butter, bacon and sage
- The tagliatelle pasta special, with fresh tomatoes and salmon
- Baked rabbit with herbed polenta
I don’t have any pictures of the meal, I just had to tell you what we ate because it was so amazing. I apologize sincerely to all my vegan friends.
As we waited twenty minutes for the night bus in the freezing drizzle (after already walking for half an hour, as night buses do not go up to Città Alta), I thanked Maria for convincing me to come out with her. My sage advice: never waste your one night in Bergamo.