Home of one of Italy’s most enduring clubs, Atalanta, Bergamo is an affluent city in Lombardy divided into Upper and Lower Towns. Its local economy has recently benefitted from its status as a budget-air hub convenient for nearby Milan.
The team owes its origins to wealthy Swiss emigrés who founded a Foot Ball Club Bergamo in 1903 – although Atalanta were actually formed in October 1907.
Their first pitch was in via Maglio del Lotto right by the railway lines, today just on the other side of the station from town. After World War I, Atalanta moved out to Daste, towards today’s budget airport of Orio al Serio.
At the time there were two rival teams, Atalanta and Bergamasca, forced to play each other in Brescia for a single berth in the Lombardy division of the Prima Categoria league in 1919. Atlanta won the play-off but by the following February, the two clubs had merged, adopting black and blue as a symbol of the union.
Thus Italian football had another Nerazzurri to complement the better known ones over in Milan.
In 1928, Atalanta moved from Daste to a new stadium north-east of town, first named after a Fascist martyr, Mario Brumana, today called the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia.
Always one of the strongest from outside Italy’s bigger metropolitan hubs, Atalanta have gone to play more than 50 seasons in Italy’s top flight, with a cup win in 1963.
Local rivalries around Lombardy include Brescia, Milan and Inter. The club offices and main store are out in Zingonia, way out south-west of the city.
Relegated from Serie B in 2012, AlbinoLeffe, a merger of Albino and Leffe, also play at the Stadio Atleti Azzuri d’Italia.
Orio al Serio (or Caravaggio) Airport is 3.5km (2.5 miles) south-east of Bergamo, just outside the city limits. It also serves Milan 45km (28 miles) away. An ATB airport bus (every 20mins; €2.10/€3 on board, €5 with 24hr city transport) takes 20mins to reach Bergamo train station and then onto the High Town. The same company runs city buses, €1.25 a single ticket, €3.50 a day pass. A taxi (+39 035 451 9090) to town should cost around €15.
The Bergamo Tourist Office has a hotel-booking service.
Taking advantage of the early-morning budget-air traffic, a number of locals have converted their flats for tourist accommodation, such as Early Leaving Bergamo Airport, by chance the nearest lodging to the stadium. Airport transfer is included in the price.
Upper Town haunts by the funicular terminus include Tucans, the Fly Pub (via Gombito 28A) and the more local Birreria Bergamo Alta, with seven beers on tap, most sold by the litre, 350cl ‘shuttle’ and more conventional measures.
Near the Basilica, Pub Sant’Orsola on the street of the same name shows sport a-plenty.
In the Lower Town, the key place is the evening-only Ritual Pub (via San Francesco D’Assissi 1), off the main drag from the station.
Directly opposite the station, the Escondido, aka Guarany (viale Papa Giovanni XXIII) is a locals’ spot that also screens matches.