The beauty of Bergamo
Usually I would savour a good risotto — and there aren’t many better than Il Sole’s risotto ai frutti di mare — but on this occasion I was glancing anxiously at my watch as I finished the last few mouthfuls.
Outside the restaurant, in Piazza Vecchia, I could hear the crowd gathering. I quickly left my table to join the festivities in the beautiful square at the heart of Bergamo’s Città Alta.
At exactly 10 pm the huge bell in the 12th century tower started to ring. It is said to chime a total of 100 times, although I have to admit I lost count, distracted by the animated conversations and laughter of the crowd.
It wasn’t a special occasion but an event that happens every night in Bergamo. In centuries past, the bell sounded as a warning to the Bergamaschi to make their way through the gates to be safe within the walls of the city or be locked out for the night.
These days the curfew bell simply entertains visitors enjoying Piazza Vecchia at night, although the walls remain a solid reminder that Bergamo is made up of two cities – the enclosed medieval Citta Alta (upper town) and the bigger, more sophisticated Citta Bassa (lower town) on the plains below.
I returned to Il Sole when the chimes finished and the waiter, who had obviously experienced this many times before, brought me my second course.
Extracted from ’48 Hours in…Bergamo’, published in ITALIA!, Issue 79, June 2011.
48 HOURS IN … Cava de’ Tirreni
For this feature for ITALIA! magazine I visited the ancient city of Cava de’ Tirreni in Campania to take a look at it as a destination for a short break.
In my six-page feature, ‘48 hours in Cava de’ Tirreni’, I explore the beautiful town, which is in the hills above the Amalfi coast. Cava de’ Tirreni used to be the most important city in Campania after Naples and was once a stop on the Grand Tour for travellers wishing to visit Pompei, the Amalfi coast or Paestum .
Although 47 kilometres south of Naples , Cava has the elegant porticoed streets reminiscent of a northern Italian town, which provided a wealth of wonderful images to accompany my feature.
ITALIA! magazine Issue 88 March 2012 went on sale in branches of W H Smith on 2 February, 2012 . For more information about the magazine visit www.italia-magazine.com
One of the most fascinating streets in Sorrento is Via San Cesareo, which is right in the centre just off Piazza Tasso.
Crammed with shops, bars and restaurants, the ancient cobbled street leads to Via Tasso, providing an experience for all your senses with its exciting colours, aromas and sounds along the way.
Running parallel with the much wider Corso Italia, the street follows one of the lines of the ancient Greek and Roman town plan. It is narrow because it was designed to be shaded by the buildings along both sides to keep it as cool as possible during the height of the summer.
As soon as you enter it from Piazza Tasso, you are met with bright colours, snatches of mandolin music, excited voices and frantic activity.
Luxury leather goods and jewellery shops display their stock along with the stalls of fresh fruit and vegetables close to the outside eating areas of bars and restaurants.
You will be dazzled by the strings of bright red chillies, colourful hand painted ceramics and fresh green vegetables and herbs on sale.
From one doorway you might experience the smell of new leather handbags, from another a whiff of Sorrento ’s lemon perfumes and products and, from a restaurant, the occasional enticing aroma of tomato and garlic.
Enjoy a taste of San Pellegrino
Experience the gentle charm of the spa town where European aristocracy used to take the waters, 24 kilometres north of Bergamo.
The name San Pellegrino has now become synonymous with bottled aqua minerale. But since medieval times, San Pellegrino Terme in the Valle Brembana has been a place people visit hoping for a cure for their illnesses. The waters are believed to be particularly effective against uric acid and kidney stones.
San Pellegrino was fashionable at the end of the 19th century when impressive buildings such as the Grand Hotel, il Palazzo della Fonte and il Casino Municipale were built in elaborate Liberty style.
It is worth a visit, by car or bus from Bergamo , to see the opulent architecture and to take a stroll along the banks of the River Brembo, imagining what San Pellegrino would have been like at the height of its popularity.
Tel: 01332 390715
Mobile: 07740 365645