Possessing more towers, domes and palaces than many cities in Italy put together, this UNESCO World Heritage site is steeped in history, dating back to 49 BC when it subsequently became one of the most important towns in Lombardy. During medieval times and throughout the Renaissance Bergamo has quietly been a power to be reckoned with, and today is actually the second most visited city in Lombardy after Milan. Both the Lower and Upper Towns still retain an air of majesty, effortlessly blending art and history with their numerous Roman ruins, Renaissance churches and Neoclassical facades.
The lush vegetation of the sweeping hills around the walled city is the stunning backdrop for ancient churches, century-old villas, cobblestoned alleys and stunning piazzas. In addition to all the historical monuments, the birthplace of operatic composer Donizetti is the home to masterpieces by Botticelli, Mantegna, Bellini and Raphael, while the jaw-dropping frescoes by Venetian-born genius Lorenzo Lotto are on view right across the town.
A lively, dynamic city all year round, artistic culture is matched by the area’s wealth of gastronomic fare: from the Slow Food philosophy to closely regulated top-notch cheeses, and from outstanding cold cuts to excellent local wines, Bergamo is quite simply, as its Tourist Board proclaims, “an Italian masterpiece”.
PRIVATE GUIDED TOURS
Whether or not time is of the essence, taking a private guided tour with Elena is the very best way to get the very most out of even a short trip to Bergamo: enquire about availability and we’ll ensure your tour is personalised to cover everything on your Wish List. If it is your first visit to the town we’ll ensure you see all the most important highlights of the fortified Upper Town within the three-hour time frame; if you have been before we will suggest less well-known features that most people won’t have had the pleasure of experiencing.
For those keen to explore the Lower Town, the Accademia Carrara has a wealth of world-class masterpieces on display, while the more out-going can scale the heights from the pinnacle of the upper funicolare, or walk the 5 km stretch of the fortified walls while learning about the trials and tribulations of a city that was never vanquished. Elena is an expert in eno-gastronomia, so is especially passionate about all things food and wine related. It is also possible to combine a private guided tour of Bergamo with a personalised wine-tasting at the incredible Castello di Grumello just 20 minutes away. Email [email protected] for further details.
Private Guided Tour duration : 3 hours
Maximum size of group : 6 people
Request further information and reserve your guided tour here.
PRIVATE COOKING CLASSES AT VILLA VITALBA
Don your chef’s hats, roll up your sleeves and prepare to discover just what it is about locally inspired cooking that sets the Italians aside from the rest of the world at these fabulous private cooking classes held in the gorgeous location of Villa Vitalba Lurani Cernuschi. Having such a great choice of seasonal ingredients to hand all year round is clearly a major advantage, but it’s no mystery that la cucina italiana is also the result of much creative prowess and above all a deep-rooted and sincere love of spending time all together in the kitchen. Many of the recipes we all attribute to Italian cooking have been passed down from generation to generation, and these wonderfully themed cooking courses will enable you to learn the tricks of the trade and secret recipes that make all the difference and that you will be easily able to replicate when you return back home.
Whether you are keen to try your hand at making hand-made pasta from scratch, with one class even specially designed to help you make the best tasting lasagna on the planet, or want to learn how to create luscious desserts based on different ways of baking with chocolate, you will be given expert tips and guided every step of the way to ensure you will be fully confident once the holiday is over and you are back in your own kitchen. You can also opt for a special class making unforgettable Tiramisù dishes and even home-made ice-cream – and round it all off by choosing to sit down and enjoy your freshly prepared food around the table together, in thoroughly inimitable Italian style.
Cooking classes duration : 3/4 hours, depending on choice of class.
Minimum size of group : 6 people.
It is possible to combine your cooking experiences with wine-tastings and/or private visits to the neighbouring Convent of Saint Nicola. You can also make a day of it and reserve lunch or dinner at the La Frasca restaurant at the end of the drive, and accommodation at Villa Vitalba is available upon request and upon availability. Email [email protected] for further details and to reserve your exclusive class.
Villa Vitalba Lurani Cernuschi is located in Almenno San Salvatore, 20 minutes from Orio al Serio airport and the centre of Bergamo and 1 hour’s drive or train journey from Milan.
EXCLUSIVE WINE-TASTING EXPERIENCES AT CASTELLO DI GRUMELLO
The Tenuta Castello di Grumello is one of the oldest wineries in Italy and its original cellar was constructed in 1200 and is located next to the historic home’s medieval tower and fortress, where the Knights’ Hall can still be visited today. Located half an hour away from the centre of Bergamo, the Reschigna Kettlitz family from Milan is proud to produce over 100,000 bottles of prestigious Valcalepio wine annually at their tenuta, and organises personalised tours of the cellar’s vaulted ceilings and traditional wooden barrels, showing their guests the entire wine-making process before inviting them into their welcoming home to taste the wines together.
Gourmet guided visits of the castle, private family chapel and the wine cellar can be reserved through Here To Stay as part of your itinerary, and include the tasting of four Castello di Grumello wines, accompanied by traditional Bergamasque products for which the region is gastronomically renowned. It is possible to purchase bottles at the end of the tour, and arrangements can be made to ship larger quantities to your home by special arrangement. Cooking classes can also be combined with wine-tasting sessions, allowing guests to become lords and ladies of the manor for a day, so that those who prefer to relax can enjoy a game of billiards in the lounge or a stroll through the vineyards, while the culinary enthusiasts cook up a storm in the kitchen.
Guided tour of the Tenuta and cellars & wine-tasting duration : 3 hours.
Minimum size of group : 6 people.
For cooking classes and longer visits, please email [email protected] for further information. Overnight accommodation is available at the family guesthouse next to the vineyards, upon request and according to availability. The Tenuta Castello di Grumello is located very conveniently five minutes’ drive from the main motorway linking to Bergamo and Milano, and is also a two-hour onward drive to Venice, making it a good place to stop over en route between these two destinations.
PRIVATE “AL FRESCO” ITALIAN LANGUAGE LESSONS
Expressing yourself in a foreign language while on vacation can be a daunting prospect, even if you have rudimentary or rusty skills in Italian. With a few well-chosen phrases, however, it’s perfectly possible to bridge the gap and communicate very successfully during your day-to-day activities, which can make a whole world of difference to your stay. You will be able to practice your conversational or even basic Italian while cooking together in a small group, or alternatively over a cup of coffee, a meal, or even a picnic lunch at this specially designed language cooking class. Your private teacher specialises in working from English or another language into Italian and can happily adapt according to the individual members of your group, whether adults or families, and including even small children. Pick up a host of useful phrases and converse with a qualified Italian teacher during your visit, and you’ll be amazed how quickly you can put your newly acquired skills to use in the shops and restaurants during the remainder of your stay.
Choose between stepping into a fully equipped kitchen at the professional language school in Lower Bergamo for a themed cooking lesson with a difference in Italian, or enjoy an unusually instructive lunch by collecting your pre-selected meal with everything you need in its picnic basket from the Vineria Cozzi restaurant in the Upper Town – then sit on the nearby lawns to converse in Italian with your teacher while admiring the spectacular views from on high. Email [email protected] for further details and to reserve your exclusive class or lesson.
Italian cooking classes duration : 4 hours, depending on choice of class.
Private Italian lesson over coffee, lunch or picnic duration : 2 hours.
“LIVING IN ITALIAN” 5-DAY FULL-IMMERSION LINGUISTIC BREAK
Spread your wings, live your dreams and learn Italian as you go during this fully immersive five-day language course based in one of the most picturesque parts of Italy. Conveniently located less than half an hour from Bergamo’s Orio al Serio airport and approximately an hour or so away from the major Malpensa and Linate airports, Villa Vitalba with its spacious reception rooms and beautiful frescoes is a privately owned historic family residence that can accommodate up to 20 people and is ideally placed to host highly specialised language courses for guests of all levels.
Over the course of the 5-day linguistic break under the tuition of the excellent teachers you will be able to brush up your rusty Italian or start from scratch and learn the basics well enough to be able to confidently hold a conversation in the local restaurant by the end of your stay. The warm and friendly atmosphere lends itself perfectly to guests who are travelling solo, in a couple or as part of a small group of friends, and the daily lessons are combined with cooking classes in Italian, where you can put your knowledge to the test and a wine-tasting experience in the family winery, where the ambrosial refreshments will also help you relax and lose any linguistic inhibitions. As part of your lessons, you will visit the medieval town of Bergamo and be able to immerse yourselves in its rich culture, as well as enjoying some of the fabulous food for which the whole region is so well known, in true Dolce Vita style. This is a unique opportunity to not only learn to speak Italian, but embrace the Italian way of life : enquire about dates of forthcoming courses and availability at [email protected] – sarà una esperienza indimenticabile, garantito.
Full-immersion linguistic break duration : 5 days.
Villa Vitalba is situated in Almenno San Salvatore, 20 minutes from Orio al Serio airport and the centre of Bergamo and 1 hour’s drive or train journey from Milan. Please note that transfers to and from the airport are not included in the price, and that meals during the cultural visits are not covered. Full details of the programme available upon request.