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An Italian Job

With flights so low to Milan Bergamo it would be a shame not to make a trip, as annual leave was starting to run out, I decided this adventure could be done over a few days in late August.

Travelled out on Friday and then returned on Monday. The Friday flight meant that arrival in Bergamo would be at 1.30pm. Leaving on a rainy day in the west makes landing in 29-degree sunshine much more appealing.

The main objective was to go to Lake Garda for 2 nights and the last night to stay in Bergamo as it was an 8am departure back the next day plus I heard Bergamo was not to be missed.

The bus from Bergamo Airport to the main Bergamo bus station could not have been simpler, exit airport arrivals and the bus was literally across the road at a cost of €2.30 one way. You can buy the tickets in the kiosk next to the bus or there is a facility on the bus to buy there also. There was an assistant by the bus helping all travelers to buy the ticket.  The bus takes just over 10 mins to get to the main bus/train station. The train station is right in front of you when you disembark the bus. For the train to Lake Garda you need to stop at Brescia (20 mins) then hop on another train to your stop at Lake Garda. The total cost for this journey was €6.70 one way.  Our stop was Desenzano which is south of Lake Garda and close to the ferry terminal.

We stayed in Hotel Mayer & Splendid as this was a recommendation and only 2 mins walk to the lake ferry.  Our first port of call was the castle and luckily, we had done research beforehand and discovered that there would be a theatrical opera in the castle. We had a quick bite to eat and headed to the castle which was less than a 10-minute walk. It was 27 degrees at 9pm at night and the atmosphere was great. We were probably the only Irish in the Italian crowd, but we felt like locals.

The next morning, we crossed the road to board the boat to Garda. Heard that Garda itself  was a lovely resort  but it was a means to get a bus to the Sanctuary of Madonna della Corona. The boat costs €9.80 one way.  After an hour or so on the boat we strolled around Garda and then headed to the tourist office to confirm our bus options as per Google maps.  All was 100% or so we thought. As we sipped on an Irish coffee, we somehow missed our €3.80 bus to Spiazzi, the town we needed to get to access the church. We are still not sure how we missed it. Luckily the tourist office refunded our bus tickets cheap as they were and rang a taxi for us. This costed €38 but the advantage was that we wouldn’t be stopping in multiple villages on the way. From the taxi drop off point we seen the signs to the church and proceeded downhill towards it. We had read it was uphill but I guess it is wherever you start from. The 10-15-minute walk was delightful passing an alpaca farm while getting great views 850 metres above sea level. See Instagram story link at bottom for this. Next we approached the church; it was amazing and just like we had envisaged. There is was nestled into a cliff with jaw dropping scenes below. 

We stayed around for 20 minutes and headed back uphill though stopping for a photo almost opposite the church for a view on the sheer uniqueness of the site within a cliff. Lunch and drinks in the local village of Spiazzi followed by a longer journey back to Garda and then to Descenzano. It was a great day of exploration so it was a take-away pizza on the balcony with local wine to end the evening. Yawn!  Next day we explored our locality in more depth, it was Sunday so there were some local markets in the main streets. After a bit of shopping we checked out of our hotel as next stop was to explore Bergamo for the rest of the day before our flight home. We walked to the bus station about 15 minutes in serious heat and hopped on the train. Instead of stopping as instructed in Brescia we noticed via Lovato on our ticket and thought we would get out at that stop instead as the train we were on was quite upmarket. In the end the train never stopped at Lovato and still was not stopping. I quickly went to google maps and noticed we were travelling well south of Bergamo and then came to the realisation that we were heading to Milan central station. Yikes! We were hoping no ticket inspector would come along as he probably thought we were pulling a fast one. Relief, not too long after we were in Milan central station then toyed with the idea of spending the day around there instead but Bergamo beckoned. I think it was a €5 for us to get the train from there to Bergamo.

We arrived in Bergamo station and our hotel was less than a 10 min walk from the station towards the old town. It was the NH Bergamo and was very cheap, something like €79 for the 2 of us room only. The room and views were fab. Quick shower and refresh we headed to Bergamo old town. The town is situated high on a hill but they have this amazing funicular that takes you right up. We waited about 5 minutes to get on at a cost of €1.30 one way. It was a great experience and somewhat daunting looking out from the front.

Getting off you are at the beginning of old town, so you just need to keep walking straight were the crowds are to get to the main square. Bergamo was a gem, small streets, stones wall, old bars and magnificant views. I could go on and on. I overheard someone in the airport on the way back saying after Lake Garda they stayed in a hotel beside Bergamo Airport. In my opinion, they missed a trick. Even if only for a day you need to see this place. In fact, when the flights resume in 2020, I definitely recommend staying in Bergamo for a few days. There was a lot more to see and do and we only had the day.
Bergamo! Not only an Airport!

 

See instastory here: https://www.instagram.com/stories/highlights/17889412456387465/

Flights to Milan Bergamo are twice weekly with Ryanair from Ireland West Airport. Summer 2020 is now on sale soon. We paid €70.16 including taxes from 30th August – 2nd September 2019. Book on www.ryanair.com