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Bergamo & Milan - Getting Around and Other Travel Advice

By Saturday, May 18, 2013 , , ,

We flew to Italy on Ryan Air (which I promise I will review soon!) and landed in Bergamo Airport Friday evening. The bus to take us into the city was already there waiting for us, but the ticket machine was broken and only took change. We wanted to buy two 72 hour passes (14 euros), and we didn't have quite enough with us in change, and by the time we got change for a 5 back inside the airport it had already left. In retrospect  this might not have been the ticket we wanted (I think we wanted the tourist ticket and not the airport one) and although one of the funicular operators didn't seem to happy to accept it  we were never turned away. When we boarded the next bus, we noticed that no one was asking to see tickets, and no one was offering them to the driver either. In fact, the whole time in Bergamo no one checked our tickets with the exception of the Funiculars.

We thought we'd found a great hotel just outside of Bergamo in a Town named Stezzano, which was right next to a train station that could take us in to Bergamo! Unfortunately the train only ran once an hour on weekends so this was not a good choice on our part.
At least the view was nice
The first night we were there, right after we arrived, we missed the last train to Stezzano when someone stopped us asking for money. He told us a long, winding story about being a gardener first and by the time he was done it was too late. We did manage to find the right bus, but there was quite a walk from the station nearest to the hotel to the actual hotel itself. Next time, we'll just get a hotel in Bergamo.
There was a lot of graffiti on the trains

Up to the Old City!
The Funicular was a pretty unique method of transportation in Bergamo for getting up the steeper hills. A cross between a tram and a cable car, it goes up and down a short but steep track between lower Bergamo and the Old City, and the Old city and the lovely Castle.
Arriving near the castle


View of the Old City from the Funicular
Waiting for the Funicular
The other way to get up the hill to the old city is to take the bus. Some people like to walk the route it took where you walk along the old wall with a beautiful view of the old city below:




The bus between Milan and Bergamo is only 5 euro. There are several companies that run buses, and they go frequently. While you can buy tickets ahead of time, they leave once they fill up and there weren't any reserved places. The bus was a coach, and while it didn't have a toilet the ride was about an hour or less so you'll be comfortable the whole ride.
There is also a train between Bergamo and Milan, and while it's a little more expensive (a whopping 5.75 euro if I recall correctly) I don't think it ran as often.


In Milan, the transportation wasn't nearly as easy as getting there was. In the central station there are lots of scammers hanging out near the ticket machines offering to help you. They might tell you something like the machines only take bills and then grab the change before you can and run off with it. We even had a guy lean across us and push buttons on our machine until we yelled at him to leave us alone. 

Your best bet for an easy time moving around Milan is to figure out the closest bus to your hotel before hand. There is a subway, but there are many districts and neighborhoods it doesn't go to that are still inside the city. The subways have turn styles that you often have to go through to see the route a particular train takes, so I would recommend getting an unlimited pass in case you make a mistake.

There are also trams in Milan, but we found they stopped more frequently than the buses and we didn't make much headway taking them.

Something interesting we discovered was that even after our passes should have expired, they kept working in the subway. The pass was supposed to be for 48 hours rather than two days so we knew almost exactly when it should have stopped working... but it kept going. Perhaps there's a grace period to make sure you can get home safely at night?

Oh, and one last thing. You can walk from Bergamo Airport to a nearby mall (there are directions along food paths and a place to safely cross the highway). If you have some time to kill you can go there, look around, and even get some snacks for the flight at the grocery store there. (And it was open on a holiday, May Day which is also International Workers' Day in much of Europe.)

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