Italian travel: San Vigilio – Più Alta della Città Alta by One Day in Italy

San Vigilio by One Day in Italy
San Vigilio by One Day in Italy

Re-blog article about Italian travel by One Day in Italy:

One might assume that Bergamo’s Città Alta (“High City”) is thus named because its the highest city, but one would be wrong.

If you get off the bus in Città Alta at Colle Aperto, head AWAY from the direction of Piazza Vecchia (the center of Città Alta). I thought it was pretty difficult to locate on the map, so I dropped a pin to show you where it is:

(The pin on the left is the Cableway, the Pin labeled “A” is Piazza Vecchia)

For those of you who are more “Turn left at the McDonalds” than “Go three hundred meters and take a left on Lake Avenue”, like me, here’s the Street View:

You can see the orange bus on your left at the Colle Aperto stop and the tunnel that leads to the funicolare on the right. I know it looks spooky but I promise, its not.

If you bought an ATB bus pass to take the city bus from the airport to Colle Aperto (or just in general), you can use it for a round-trip funicolare ticket as well (this might change since posting; be sure to check the ATB Site to verify, or just pay the few euros when you arrive if it doesn’t work. The driver was selling tickets on the cablecar when I was there)


The car makes its way up the hill slow and steady, but it doesn’t take too long to reach the station in San Viligio. When you exit the tiny building, go immediately right and hang over the chest-high cement wall for some amazing views of Bergamo.


If you keep going right you’ll be heading toward il Castello – this was my intention. After only a few hundred meters there was a stone wall and a small cobblestone walkway veering left, at the end of which – behold! – was one of the Castello towers.


Before turning down the path, however, I looked up and snapped a picture that is one of my favorites, for no real reason, really. Perhaps just its simplicity. A large white building – perhaps apartments? a large single family home? a hotel? – was perched on the plateau above me and hanging in line with the stone wall below it were several lines of whites. It reminded me of when I was a child, helping my grandmother put the sheets on the line, running hurriedly outside to collect them when Florida weather proved predictable and it began storming in the afternoon. I associate hanging laundry with a simpler time of my life, I suppose, and love taking pictures of it.


I walked up to the tower and poked my head through an unblocked entrance. A contemporary metal stairway led a few flights up. When I emerged back into the sunlight a crisp breeze blew my hair and as I pushed it from my eyes I found myself in a small park. No castle. No visitors center – at least, not that I saw. Just a small park with several walkways, some green space, and a panoramic view of the surrounding hills.

Toward the right edge of the park there was a large metal circle with a bunch of lines randomly radiating from the center. I had originally assumed it was a sundial but with the irregularity of the lines that certainly wasn’t the case. It took me a moment to figure out what it was, and then I read some of the words etched near the lines:


“Appennino Liguria”

“Monte Orfano”


They were lines of sight to notable cities, mountains and mountain ranges in the area! Milan, The Ligurian Apennines Mount Orfano – probably about two dozen sights.

All around, the view was incredible. Colored houses with the same brown tile roofs perched on the hillside interspersed with personal, sloping gardens and fur trees. I recognized this view the next day at the local craft market in Piazza Vecchia when I bought my tray with a landscape scene created from petals and leaves.


So of course I had to take the “I was here” self-portrait. These never come out with as pretty of a background as they should. Oh, well. Suits its “I was here” purpose, I suppose.


There wasn’t much else to look at. The Rocca in Città Alta had given me a history of the area and its military defenses concentrated there. Perhaps this was more of a look out tower?

I sat down in the middle of the lawn, letting the sun warm me through the chill air, and read my book for a while, people-watched the few people who had also come up the metal stairs in the tower, then decided to see what else I could explore.

Back next to the funicolare station there was a church whose parking lot overlooked Bergamo but it was locked. I turned in the opposite direction from which I had come and began walking down a two lane road. To my left was a view of the valley, to my right a tall wall with buildings behind it. After walking for what felt like forever (but was probably about 10 minutes – hey, I was still jet lagged) and not seeing anything new I decided to walk back to the funicolare. I had passed a café and a storefront that looked like an art gallery – both closed. I’d imagine they’d be interesting places to stop if they were open. Let me know if you go 🙂

After a short wait for the funicolare in which I took about three dozen more pictures of the Bergamo skyline, I hopped back into the cablecar and made my way back to Città Alta. San Vigilio: check √!

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