Frequent European adventures for popular budget hub

Teams, tales and tips – a guide to the local game

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.

Welcome to Bergamo/Rudi Jansen

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.

Birreria Bergamo Alta/Peterjon Cresswell

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 Azzurri d’Italia.

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Getting Around

Arriving in town, local transport and timings

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.

Where to Drink

The best pubs and bars for football fans

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.

Close to Gasperini’s gaff off Large Cinque Vie, cult bar Pivo is run by the affable Dabel, his heart long given over to Atalanta and punk rock. His first venture was due to open the very day Covid-ravaged Bergamo closed for business. Eventually unveiled in 2021, it has won over a regular crowd thanks to big-screen sport and rare craft beers at fair prices. You’ll find it at via Gianbattista Moroni 11. Open from late afternoon, closed Mondays. 

Where to stay

The best hotels for the stadium and city centre

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.

A more conventional B&B is the Accademia, halfway between town and the stadium, close to the equally affordable Santa Caterina.

In town, the Excelsior San Marco is a reliably traditional four-star while the former three-, now four-star Hotel Piemontese offers a convenient location opposite the station.