Bergamo On a Rainy Day: 12 Things To Do
In Northern Italy, you will find a town that gets overlooked all too often when people take a vacation, the Italian city of Bergamo. Nestled in the foothills of the Italian Alps, this beautiful city is a hidden gem that needs to be discovered by more people. It is an absolutely stunning city with a rich history that rivals the greater cities of Italy.
Not a huge city, Bergamo played an important strategic role in Italy. It was established by the Celts, attacked and destroyed by Atilla the Hun in the Middle Ages, and ruled by Charlemagne. It is a kind of two towns in one, the old town (Citta Alta), which is encircled by Venetian walls, and the more modern lower town, Citta Bassa.
It is centrally located near Bologna, Venice, Verona, Lake Como, Lake Garda, and Milan. In fact, the airport for Milan is actually closer to Bergamo, a lot closer. When you are in Bergamo, taking a day trip to these other major cities is so easy. Venice would be the longest ride, and that is less than three hours.
So why aren't more people visiting Bergamo, Italy? It could be the weather. Bergamo has quite a bit of rain. In fact, May can rain every other day. But don't let possible bad weather scare you away from this picturesque town. Bergamo has a lot to offer, even on a rainy day.
If you are out on a day trip and showers make an appearance, you are going to need a place to store your belongings. Fortunately, we have the best and most convenient bag storage location here in Bergamo.
Shop at the Markets and Shopping Malls
A great way to stay out of the rain is to do a little shopping. Shopping in Bergamo can be done at the local markets like Piazzale Malpensata (the largest) and Gemelli Localita Redona. The local markets are great for picking up handcrafted souvenirs, fresh produce, and the famous Bergamo cheeses, or for just sitting and enjoying some food and drink. Most of the markets are located in the new town area, with only a couple in the old city.
There are a few shopping malls to visit that will keep the rain off, Le Due Torri, and, probably the best choice, Orio Center. The Orio is the largest and has a kids' play center, food courts, and fashion stores galore. It is located near the Milan Bergamo international airport. It is not uncommon for shopping malls to put on special events or have performances by celebrities at the mall.
Explore a Museum or the Art Galleries
Italy has over 3,000 museums and galleries, so you know finding one in such a historical city as Bergamo will be easy. Not only is it easy to find one, but the ones you do find are excellent.
Museo di Scienze Naturali
The Museum of Natural Science greets all its visitors with a woolly mammoth at the front door. Once beyond the friendly giant, you can explore the various sections of zoology, geology, paleontology, and entomology. The museum actually only displays a small part of its impressive collection of over one million species and minerals. You will get to see the life-size skeleton cast of their Allosaurus, but the majority of the museum's collection is kept behind closed doors for scientific study.
Civico Archeologico Museo di Bergamo
Right next door to the Museum of Natural Science is the Civic Archeological Museum, a fantastic collection that tells the history of Bergamo and the surrounding area. It started as a small museum with a collection of "old stuff" at the Piazza Vecchia and is now housed in the 14th-century Cittadella Palace. Not only is it a fascinating museum to walk around, but it also provides interesting activities and workshops for kids and adults.
Located on the ground floor of the Domus Magna (a former palace) is where you will find this museum. Here you can admire not only the collection of portraits, personal belongings, and autographed scores of the great Italian composer but the interior of the palace itself.
The incredible art collection housed in the museum was donated by Giacomo Carrara in the 18th century. It stands as one of the oldest private collections in Italy and can be viewed by the public for a small fee. This is considered one of Europe's finest art museums, with almost 700 works of art on display.
There are many other museums in the city to explore, and most have a small entry fee or are free. So when you need to get out of the rain and want to learn more about Bergamo and the historic sites of Itlay, a museum is a perfect refuge.
Have a Spa Day
All throughout Italy, you will find natural hot springs where you can enjoy thermal baths. A short drive from Bergamo, you will find the small town of San Pellegrino. Most people have drank the famous water from the town. San Pellegrino thermal baths were an extremely fashionable place for the rich and famous to hang out before World War I.
While not as fashionable today, it is still a fantastic spa town. Only 30 minutes north of Bergamo, San Pellegrino is the perfect place to pamper yourself when the rain is coming down. Italy is so full of thermal springs that going to a spa, even in a luxury hotel, is quite cheap.
Climb a Tower
You will notice the city of Bergamo has a few towers that dominate the skyline, and if you are up for it, you can climb all of them. Not only will you get a great workout, but you will be rewarded with some of the most spectacular views of the city.
The tallest of all the towers is the Campanone O Torre Civica or Civic Tower in the center of the Piazza Vecchia. It stands almost 174 feet (52.76m) high and has panoramic views of the Bergamo that are simply unmatched. You can climb the 230 steps to the top, or if you are not into exerting yourself too much, you can take the lift. The bell tower holds the largest bell in the Lombardy region, and it is still traditionally rung 100 times each night at 10 pm.
A few other towers within Bergamo that are worth a climb, but are not as taxing as the Civic Tower, are Torre Fenaroli, Campanile di Treviglio, and the tower of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore.
Admire the Churches
Churches and Italy go hand in hand. Some of the most iconic and beautiful churches in the world are located in Italy, and Bergamo holds a few of them.
Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
In Bergamo's Citta Alta is the Piazza Vecchia, where you will find the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The church is one of the most important churches in Bergamo. It was built in the 12th century but has had a few changes over the years. The interior became more Gothic in the 17th century and makes an everlasting impression. The exterior piazza is also quite stunning with monuments including the Portal of the Fountain by Pietro Isabello.
Standing next to the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore is a small church that is considered the most beautiful building in Bergamo, Colleoni Chapel. The exterior of the Cappella Colleoni is Italian Renaissance architecture at its finest with beautiful red and white marble. The inside is just as incredible with artwork, a magnificent statue, and the elegant tomb of Bartolomeo Colleoni's daughter.
Cattedrale di Bergamo e Battistero
The Cathedral of Bergamo (Duomo) is dedicated to Saint Alexander of Bergamo, the patron saint of the city. From the outside, the Duomo may be less impressive than others in Italy but once inside you will be mesmerized by the beauty of the Baroque architecture and frescoes. Crypts of former bishops, magnificent altars, and one of the most stunning domes in any church. The beauty of this church will make you forget it is a drab rainy day outside!
Drink Tasty Beer
Italy is famous for producing some of the best wines in the world, but did you know Italy has some great beers too? Bergamo is one of the top craft beer brewing areas in Italy, with many independent breweries and restaurants brewing their own special recipes. The beers from the Bergamo area are rated as the top in Italy and have won multiple awards.
The craft beers can be enjoyed at restaurants, cafes, breweries, and specialized pubs, along with some live music and great food. If you happen to be in Italy in June, make sure to visit Bergamo for the Orobie Beer Festival.
Grab Coffee in a Cafe
Sitting in a cafe in Italy can be expensive as they charge extra when you sit down. But unlike the big cities of Italy, the cafes in Bergamo are friendly and don't cost that much. One cafe that encourages you to sit and relax is Bugan Coffee Lab. They have two locations, one near the train station in the lower town and one in Citta Alta. What makes Bugan special is not only the incredible coffee but it is also the barista academy in the city.
No matter which coffee house you pick, sitting down, reading a book, and watching the rain from the comfort of the cafe is a great way to escape.
Go Palace Hopping
Take the funicular up to Citta Alta and the Castello di San Vigilio and explore one of the most strategic and beautiful areas in the Lombardy region. Home of the many rules through Bergamo's history, the Castello di San Vigilio stand over 1,600 feet above sea level. The view from the top is unbelievable, even in the rain. Grab an umbrella and you can explore the grounds and walk the wall.
Some other great castles to check out are Martinengo, Romano, and Pagazzano, the only one that still has an actual water-filled moat.
Eat Original Gelato
After you have eaten some Italian food, you are going to need a true Italian dessert, gelato! And in Bergamo, there is only one choice for gelato, stracciatella. Bergamo is the birthplace of the famous ice cream flavor. The name stracciatella means "little shards" and is actually based on a Roman soup of the same name. The small bits of chocolate are created when hot melted chocolate is poured into the churning creamy gelato.
In fact, the original restaurant that invented stracciatella gelato still exists, it is called La Marianna in the Bergamo Alta at Largo Colle Aperto, 4. It is also a wonderful place to grab a full meal, the view from the terrace is great, even in the rain. Just because it is raining outside doesn't mean you can't enjoy delicious gelato inside.
Have Fun in Escape Rooms
Whether you are with an entire family, a few friends, or even by yourself, escape rooms are great fun. There are several escape rooms in and around Bergamo, and they all have multiple rooms, so once you finish one, you can do another. Some will have a number minimum number of participants, but even if you are by yourself, you can join in with another group.
The rooms will all have a theme different than the others, some can be a little creepy and scary but all of them are fun. For those that have never done one before, a rainy day in Bergamo is the perfect time to test out your puzzle-solving skills.
Experience Kids Play Centers
If you have younger children, play centers are an ideal place to hang out on a rainy day. They provide a safe and secure indoor playground where your kids can go bananas and not have to be quiet like in an art gallery. Ball pits, slides, and trampolines ensure your kids will have a great time, not to mention padded floors to help keep them safe.
The play centers also have kitchens with pizza, burgers, and lots of drinks, so when your little ones get hungry you don't have to go out into the rain. Play centers think of the parents too, they have coffee and other beverages so parents can sit and relax while the kids burn off some energy.
Get Active in Leisure Centers
Some people like to relax on rainy days, others like to have fun by staying active, for the latter you need to try out some of the leisure centers in Bergamo.
From the fall to the spring there are plenty of winter sports happening that you can either watch or get involved with. Bergamo hosts figure skating competitions, and professional and amateur ice hockey games, or slap on some skates and hit the ice yourself in one of the indoor ice rinks.
There are leisure centers with facilities for pool/billiards, arcade games, laser tag, darts, and even small football (soccer) pitches for 5-on-5 games. So don't let a little rainy weather slow you down, you can meet new people and stay active without going outside.
Fun on a Rainy day in Bergamo
Now when you know where to go and what to do in one of the best hidden gems of the world, you will be prepared no matter what the forecast is and have great fun even if it rains.
One note to remember is that Bergamo is a smaller city, and English is not widely spoken, so if you don't speak Italian, it is not a bad idea to take guided tours.
Looking for even more things to do in Bergamo on a rainy day? Check out these other guides: