Our feet have hardly touched the ground in England before we’re on the road again. We’re now in Italy – in the little town of Bergamo north of Milan.
It’s a part of Italy we haven’t been to before, so – even though we’re only here for a night – we’re keen to get as much of an idea of Bergamo as possible.
After our night here, we head to the main reason we’re in Italy this time: our lovely friends Ida and Filip are getting married! Their wedding is on the shores of Lake Isao – one of the Great Lakes and next door to Lake Como.
Get ready for stunning sights, beautiful wedding shots and food galore!
Cheers – Jim & Christina xx
Because the wedding we’re going to is north of Milan, we decided to fly into Bergamo’s airport, which is just north of Milan too. It’s cheaper to fly to, closer to Lake Iseo and it’s somewhere we haven’t been before.
It’s also beautiful. With all the muted tones of Tuscany mixed with the tall grandeur of the Italian north, Bergamo is not a town to miss.
Up on the hill and above Bergamo’s modern centre is the Città Alto – the old town. You can drive here or – even better – catch the public funicular train that climbs the steep hill through the thick walls of Bergamo’s fortified historic heart.
In the middle of the old town is the piazza and duomo, which, as you can see, is just beautiful.
Back in the (relatively) new part of Bergamo down the hill, we explore the streets looking for a late night aperitivo. Christina spots this magnificent place: Bù – a cheese bar!
This is why I love Italy so much. There are places – even in towns as un-touristy as Bergamo – that celebrate the best things about food so well. I mean, a cheese bar? Seriously?
We snack on this delight of fresh burrata bruschetta and a couple of glasses of beer and wonder why this kind of place isn’t a thing in Australia.
We find our way up to the old town – Città Alto – to check out the restaurant scene. It’s not hard to find the main square here – Piazza Vecchia – the Old Square. It’s raining, so we make a snap decision, heading into Ristorante Lalimentari.
The menu’s pretty brief, but the atmosphere is great. Lots of locals, families, friends work-mates – all enjoying the homely yet clever food here.
Bergamo is famous for its polenta, so I feel obliged to order some. There are a couple of options but unsurprisingly I go for the polenta with gorgonzola. I’m expecting polenta mixed with the polenta, but this happens instead. I’m so happy! The polenta is amazing – with grains and herbs all through it and a much richer more diverse flavour than I’ve had in polenta in the past.
We leave happy and incredibly full!
This morning, we’re back in Bergamo’s old town and on the hunt for coffee. Christina spotted this place last night on our way home. It was closed then, but now we walk through its doors not realising we’re about to experience the best cappuccino we’ve ever had.
If you’re ever in Bergamo – or even nearby – make sure you have one here at Pasticceria Cavour. It’ll change your life. And I don’t say that lightly.
While we still have a bit of time, we explore more of Bergamo’s old town in the daylight. Here are some of our favourite photos:
The old Venetian walls surrounding Bergamo’s Città Alta are incredible. And the views from up here – looking down over this part of Lombardy are stunning. We’re sad to only have a night here, but we’ll be back for sure.
And when you have a view like this out of your hotel window, you don’t mind swapping Bergamo.
We’ve arrived at Lake Iseo for our friends’ wedding and we’re kind of blown away. Under an hour’s drive from Bergamo’s little city, this lake and the tiny town of Sulzano couldn’t be more different.
We’re staying at the beautiful Hotel Rivalago, which is also the wedding venue.
You might recognise this pool from a wrap post we published earlier this year about 15 incredible hotel pools from around the world.
In our room, we find a lovely present from the bride and groom – a bottle of Franciacorta. This is a sparkling wine that comes from this region the same way Champagne comes from the specific part of France.
With the wedding happening tomorrow, we take the opportunity to explore the area. Sulzano isn’t a big town, but there’s still lots to do here, including a boat trip out to the main island on the lake: Monte Isola. Apart from a few little villages on the island, it makes for a stunning backdrop to the lake.
Here are some of our favourite photos from Isola:
The ferry to and from Monte Isola is inexpensive and gives you an amazing perspective of both the island itself and the rest of the region. There are several other islands around this part of the lake and you can also book a boat ride to see them too. We’ve run out of time this trip, but I’m sure there’ll be another chance in the future.
We love the way the rock climbs out of the water to form Monte Isola. It’s quite unlike an Italian landscape – we wonder if our Swedish friends and their families here will be getting homesick for some Scandinavian fiords with this kind of view!
Today is indeed the big day for our friends Ida and Filip. There are so many beautiful touches around the Hotel Rivalago like this that make it such a lovely wedding venue. And of course the scenery helps too!
This really is a wonderful venue for a wedding – or just to stroll around the grounds with a glass of Franciacorta! Even better if you can do both.
The formal part of the wedding begins and everything is so beautiful. Ida, of course, looks incredible and her veil, which is a family heirloom with generations of initials embroidered into it, is one of those details that make occasions like this even more beautiful.
The sun shines down on the spectacle, family and friends are smiling, and the party is one of joy. We feel so honoured to be a part of this celebration of romance.
And with the ceremony over, it’s time to get down to the important part: the food! Of course, being Italian, the catering is awesome. These pre-dinner nibbles are already putting a delightful pressure on my belt buckle.
There’s even a cheese and meats table! Look at that plait of mozzarella being carved.
Almost as perfect as the wedding itself, the sunset this evening is incredible. It’s hard to believe that we’re even here; Christina and I have to keep asking ourselves how we got here at all. And all we can do is shrug and grin at the question.
The party goes long into the night and everyone’s having a great time. You may not know this, but Swedish weddings tend to go for quite a long time. After the ceremony, the dinner is interspersed with speeches. Anyone can stand up and speak if they want to, which potentially means the party could go on infinitely.
I’m trying to imagine this custom going on somewhere like the UK or Australia. Sooner or later someone would say something terrible, wouldn’t they? But not in Sweden and not tonight. Apart from a surprise bomb into the pool by Ida’s dad right in the middle of her grandfather’s speech, everyone behaved themselves impeccably. Even me!
Mine and Cristina’s Swedish is a bit rusty, so we had a bit of trouble with some of the speeches, but it didn’t darken the day or the delight we’ve had celebrating with Ida, Filip and their family and friends.
Instamatic cameras, props and booze also help things go along well too of course!
It’s the morning after and I can’t tell if it’s the 3am finish or our reluctance to leave this beautiful place that makes us slow to rise. The flamingo and the gilt swan in the pool are still partying on, but we have to pack for our next stop on our journey.
Before we hit the road, we have one last walk round the town. Today is Sunday and the church bells around the little lake town of Sulzano are all of a clamour. We walk past a small yet dominating church, its doors ajar for the morning’s warm air.
Christina pops her head inside to see the full mass that’s going on and snaps this quick shot. It just goes to show it’s worth peeping in even the most innocuous of doors in Italy. You never know what you’ll find inside. This church is really nothing to look at from the outside, but look at the walls and ceilings.
Sulzano and Lake Iseo will be hard to beat – especially with such a beautiful moment shared in Ida and Filip’s wedding. But we’ll see what we can find in the next part of our trip through Italy.
From Iseo we travel to Lake Como, arguably the most famous lake in the world. This will be our second time to Como, but there’s another even more exciting element to this part of the trip we can’t wait to share with you.
Watch out for our next Weekly Edition to see what it is!
Congratulations to Ida and Filip. We hope they have a wonderful life together. We want to thank them once again for inviting us and to thank their family and friends for being so welcoming and inclusive.
Cheers (or perhaps skål!) – Jim & Christina xx