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Rome, Venice or Florence? Not this time! Why not spread your wings and discover some of Italy’s many other destinations? For a longer holiday, we can highly recommend Sardinia, which will satisfy sun lounger-lovers and sports enthusiasts alike. Prefer a short-and-sweet city break? Book a flight to Bergamo! This atmospheric town offers a glimpse into a truly Italian lifestyle, while also being a great base for side trips to Milan and Verona.

Bergamo City Break: classic or contemporary?

Bergamo is the heart of the Italian region of Lombardy, however, until quite recently it was predominantly viewed by tourists as just a transfer point en route to Milan. But Bergamo’s peaceful atmosphere, fascinating historic buildings, and picture-postcard views have made it an increasingly popular destination for those looking for an authentically Italian city break. Bergamo is divided into the Lower and the Upper Town, with the former having a more modern atmosphere and contemporary architecture, along with plenty of bars, restaurants and accommodation. The majority of Bergamo’s residents live and work here, and it is also home to an extraordinary art gallery – the Accademia Carrara – where you can admire artwork from the 15th to the 19th centuries.

The Bergamo skyline
The Bergamo skyline © iStock

A short ride on the city’s historic railway or a pleasant stroll through beautiful scenery brings you to Bergamo’s Upper Town. The historic centre contains mediaeval buildings, perfectly positioned atop a hill for maximum impact. This area is easily distinguished by its well-preserved entrance gates, including the famous Porta San Giacomo, and is ringed by 16th century Venetian defensive walls. Don’t miss the Romanesque and Baroque Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore nor the Piazza Vecchia, Bergamo’s main square, where you can visit the Palazzo della Ragione which dates back to the 12th century before admiring the panoramic views from a vantage point atop the city’s tower.

Verona Amphitheater
Verona Amphitheater © iStock

Romantic Verona or stylish Milan?

If you plan a city break in Bergamo then it is also worth booking a day trip to either Verona or Milan. Immortalised in Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”, beautiful Verona retains the association to this day; head to San Francesco al Corso on Via Shakespeare to view the sarcophagus where Juliet was rumoured to have been buried. The area’s main attraction is Juliet’s famous balcony where tourists pose for photos, and the courtyard of the 13th-century palace. According to legend, touching the breast of Juliet’s statue guarantees happiness in love. While romance is in the air here, it should be noted that the balcony was built especially for tourists, and the palace belonged to the Cappello family, rather than the Capulettis.

Woman in Verona
Woman in Verona © iStock

Of course, there’s more to Verona than the famous star-crossed lovers. The city is UNESCO World Heritage-listed, with plenty of historic monuments to explore. At Piazza Bra, you can visit a Roman amphitheatre that dates back to the first century – one of the largest of its kind. It is also worth seeing the 14th-century castle at Castelvecchio, with its famous red-brick walls. You can reach it via the beautiful, brick Ponte Scaligero bridge and after a hard day’s sightseeing, enjoy a delicious Italian dinner in the nearby Piazza delle Erbe.

Two women in front of the Milan Cathedral
Two women in front of the Milan Cathedral © iStock

Known as the European capital of fashion, Milan is just 50km from Bergamo Airport and shouldn’t be missed. A place where the world’s greatest designers sit side-by-side with some of the world’s most iconic monuments, Milan has a character all of its own. The Piazza del Duomo contains Milan’s symbol, its stunning cathedral. Its facade of white marble decorated with elaborate sculptures is immediately recognisable, even to those who have never visited Italy. Right next to the cathedral is the famous Victor Emmanuel II Gallery, which is well worth visiting, even if you’re not in the mood to shop. Its famous glass dome is spectacular when viewed from inside. While you are in in Milan, you should head to Santa Maria della Grazie, where Leonardo da Vinci’s “Last Supper” is located. A little more retail therapy awaits at the so-called Golden Square, Quadrilatero d’Oro, which is lined with boutiques from world-famous brands.

It’s easy to combine your trip to Bergamo with a visit to its surrounding cities. For the best deals on flights and accommodation, check out our Deals tab.

Sardinia © iStock

Sardinia – an island full of possibilities

If you’re planning a longer Italian holiday then Sardinia is sure to be special! This picturesque island offers a variety of attractions, so you can easily combine intensive sightseeing with sunbathing, trekking or water sports. Sardinia offers over 300 days of sunshine a year, and its inhabitants are among the happiest and longest-living people worldwide! Sardinia’s capital Cagliari, is situated on seven hills – its oldest neighbourhood is Castello, which is filled with charming narrow streets. The city’s main monuments are the Roman amphitheatre, a fort from the turn of the 19th century, and a Romanesque cathedral, however, it is worth finding a moment to admire the views from Torre dell’Elefante or relax on the city’s beach.

Cagliari © iStock

Castelsardo is a colourful, atmospheric town at the foot of the hills below Cagliari. Its mediaeval buildings, doric castle and colourful building facades perfectly reflect what so many of us associate with holidays in Italy. The cities of Alghero and Bosa are also worthy of attention. Situated on the banks of the River Temo, Bosa enchants with its colourful buildings and its 12th-century hilltop castle. Meanwhile Alghero has a surprising Catalan flavour, with rustic city walls, defence towers and the  beautiful Cathedral of Santa Maria.  Save time to explore the nearby Nettuno Grotto – rugged caves with a beautiful lake inside that can be accessed via  600 steps or by swimming to the cave from a  boat. Alghero and  Barumini both contain nuragi – circular stone towers. These monuments are highly characteristic of Sardinia and there are over 7,000 of them dotted around the island.

Kite in Sardinia
Kite in Sardinia © Kinga Plewicka

Holidays in nature

Not only is Sardinia ideal for fascinating cities and ancient monuments, but also unspoiled nature. Its many mountainous areas are ideal for trekking, and include the area around Orgosolo, which is also famous for its unique, colourful murals across the city’s landscape. The Su Gorropu gorge is one of the deepest in Europe and very popular among keen hikers. Sardinia also offers water sports enthusiasts excellent conditions for surfing, kite surfing, and diving – for more on the island’s many sporting opportunities, read our article on catching waves in Sardinia.

Costa Paradiso, Sardinia
Costa Paradiso, Sardinia © Kinga Plewicka

No trip to Italy would be complete without a few lazy beach days, and fortunately Sardinia has over 1,800 km of coastline at your disposal! The most upmarket beach resorts are to be found along the Costa Smeralda. This destination is also very popular among celebrities, who are often to be found mooring their yachts among the coast’s azure waters and white sand. The coastline remains mostly natural, without the typical excessive development and sprawling resorts, meaning that the Costa Smerelda remains in harmony with its natural surroundings. Equally undeveloped is the La Maddalena Archipelago, where you cane enjoy an undisturbed getaway on one of the small islets.

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