Just a few “clicks” away from Milan, Lake Como, Brescia, or Lake Iseo, lies Bergamo, a charming and unique town with lots of history and food! When you visit Bergamo, you’ll realize that the city is split into two parts: Bergamo Alta, which means “high Bergamo”, and Bergamo Bassa, or “the low town”. What’s even lovely about this, is that the two town parts are joined and linked with a historic cable car.
This city is so much connected with food in the minds of people, that there are several awards taking place there, such as the Guild of Fine Foods World Cheese Awards. Furthermore, a little history lesson, stracciatella gelato was invented in Bergamo in 1961. It’s no wonder why so many people have included this city in their “must go” list.
Before we dive into this sea of flavors, we should also mention our suggestion of how to go to Bergamo. A vacation to a city is as great as your arrival there. Imaging yourself undergoing all sorts of traveling complications before you arrive at your destination. How will your mood be? Not good we assume. So, if you find yourself flying there, make sure to book a taxi to Bergamo airport with AtoB. You are going to travel in private, comfortably, and safely. You can even ask for adding a baby seat to your Bergamo airport taxi if you have your little loved one(s) with you. A great start for a great journey in Bergamo.
Since we got that covered, it’s time to eat in Bergamo!
They say that the city’s cuisine and cooking style was created by hard-working peasants. That means local ingredients such as corn, meat, and cheese to create simple dishes. However, you are about to discover that “simple” doesn’t mean flat taste. In fact, like many places in Italy, this cuisine is known for its succulent and flavorful dishes that were cooked by poor people. The very invention of pizza was based on opening the pantry of a very poor family, and whatever they could scavenge, it was put on top of dough so they could feed the family members. Amazing, right?
Casoncelli alla Bergamasca – Pasta
To begin with pasta, in Bergamo you can find many different types. The most famous is Casoncelli alla Bergamasca. It reminds of ravioli as it has the shape of a half moon, and it is filled with meat, herbs, and of course, parmesan. They will be usually served with bacon, butter, sage, and again, a little more of parmesan. This is the town’s specialty, so brace yourself, you are going to eat a lot!
Strangolapreti – Pasta
You will also find a type of gnocchi (a potato-based dumpling) which in this case, is made with nettle or spinach. We are talking about Strangolapreti or “the priest chokers”! This bizarre name refers to some gluttonous clergymen from the past who would eat so much to a point they would choke. And this says it all. You are going to love this type of pasta.
Did you know that in Bergamo there are over 150 mountain pastures? In fact, Bergamo is No.1 in Protected Designation of Origin cheeses. This is why there are cheese awards taking place here. So, having that many unique types of cheese being produced there, means you can create a great deal of different dishes which are either based on cheese or are meant to be served with cheese.
According to their tradition, cheese is meant to be served at the end of the meal. Local people even have a saying “là bóca l’è mai straca se no la sènt de aca”, which roughly translates to “it is essential to finish your meal with a flavor of cheese in your mouth”. We only hope that you are not lactose intolerant.
When we talked about the “simple but not simple” cooking, we had Polenta in mind. It is a centuries-old dish made of corn flour. There are variations regarding the flour but the end results are always delicious. Our personal favorite is with lard to make it creamier, topped with savory cheese. Every ingredient of this meal is local. You are eating Bergamo.
Bergamo is also known for its sausages and salami. You can find a local sausage here called “loanghina”, which is a thin and long sausage, rolled up and pinned with several toothpicks just before grilling. That way it keeps its shape. You’ll often eat it with creamy polenta or in a panino. There are many restaurants serving this dish. If you want to find the best ones, ask your driver from AtoB’s airport taxi, and they will drive you there. They are all locals, therefore, they will surely choose wisely.
You can also try the Polenta e osei, which means “polenta with little birds. Still a traditional creamy polenta dish with the addition of roasted birds, usually quails or thrush birds. Here is the thing though. It is also sweet, especially in Bergamo, made from sponge cake and chocolate that looks like little birds!
You might also want to honor the birthplace of stracciatella ice-cream, by trying a stracciatella gelato. This ice-cream flavor was invented here in 1961, and you can order one made from fresh milk and cream and studded with dark Lindt chocolate. Obviously, this is the best stracciatella flavor you will ever taste in your life.
After the meal
Finally, you can end your meal with either wine or espresso coffee (and cheese, of course). There are many local wineries for every taste, all of which are accessible with a private airport taxi from AtoB, therefore, for every different meal you are going to have, ask the best wine to accompany it. Coffee is the inevitable conclusion of your meal since you are in Italy.
Before closing, we would like to mention the Slow Food Event that takes place in Bergamo every autumn, which is a celebration of the locally produced cheeses, by hosting tastings and tours in their production labs. There you will also find cheese experts who will broaden your cheese knowledge, so everytime you eat one, you will have all its characteristics in your mind. So, if you are staying somewhere nearby, book an airport transfer with AtoB to drive you to the event. You can even ask for your personal driver to be back at a specific time to pick you up!
Furthermore, we also suggest visiting Bergamo’s markets. To begin with, the Mercato della Terra or Bergamo Earth Market offers a big range of tasty natural products, such as flour, bread, cheese, beer, vegetables, and fruits. You will also find salami and many sausages, so keep your protein intake flowing!
And there you have a comprehensive guide of Bergamo’s cuisine. You will definitely enjoy your stay there, and remember, if you want a comfortable way around the city, opt for a personal airport transfer. That way you can visit and eat in as many places as possible.