Bergamo Alta shopping streets

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As dusk drifted up from the valley below, the streets of Bergamo Alta were softly lit.

Beautiful specialty shops tucked into tiny spaces displayed their wares with uniquely Italian style

In the winter evening light, from within the warmth of Bergamo cafes came reflections of the street, with people enjoying the slowness of Italian life – a contrast from the cosmopolitan bustle of Milan.

Bergamo Alta reflected in café

Restaurants awaited the late diners – it was too early yet for dinner.

Where other nations may find it fit to dine at 6pm, at this hour in Italy people have only been back a short time after a relaxed few hours closure for lunch.

Bergamo Alta reflected in restaurant

Having worked for 3 months in Italy, I knew that dinner would be a relaxed late evening affair.

In this restaurant window it was hard to see what was a reflection and what was reality

It reminded me of the wit of Albert Einstein

Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one

Bergamo Alta Restaurant reflections

Window displays show Italian design at its most local.

Here, there is great attention to detail and to attracting the viewer - for window-shopping is as fine an art here as the shopping itself.

Bergamo Alta cake shop temptation

Elegant style simply displayed, or innovative use of unlikely props catches the eye: children’s jackets arranged to look as if they are peeping through empty picture frames, and jewellery on chicken wire torsos.

In the twilight I captured a saint reflected in a Wine Bar window. Was he blessing the wine within – or wishing to be there himself in the warmth, surrounded by chatter of friends and visitors?

Bergamo Alta Saint in the wine bar window

When I visited Bergamo Alta, the light of the late winter afternoon was mellow. It highlighted families dining together, friends voluble in their conviviality over a shared meal, vendors of charcuterie brandishing shining carving knives as they shaved hams to tissue width...

Bergamo Alta gourmet deli

… or chocolatiers carefully extracting each delicacy as if a fragile treasure.

Bergamo Alta chocolate shop

The cake shop windows magnetically drew viewers to be tempted inside by the exquisite detail of each delicious looking offering.

Bergamo Alta cake shop

Further along there were good Italian wines to be tested…

Bergamo Alta wine shop

..and a little way along, an elegant Leatherweare Shop reflected a narrow alleyway.

I couldn’t help think of the Irish saying that a narrow neck keeps the bottle from being emptied in one swig – for it was so in Bergamo Alta – each narrow passage giving a taste of something as delicious to the senses, as the last.

Bergamo Alta leatherware shop

The charm of the old city itself was reflected everywhere: here in this wine and cheese shop ...

Bergamo Alta wine deli

…and again here in the reflected passing parade outside making a contrast to the relaxed diners, inside.

In restaurant Sant'Ambroeus on the Piazza Vecchia, the two fountain lions were perfectly reflected in the lace door – like ghostly guardians.

Bergamo Alta Restaurant Sant'Ambroeus

But as we departed I saw a different type of reflection.

This was of three generations of ladies - the youngest walking in slow support of the eldest – a reflection of that art of family that is no longer practiced in many parts of the western, modern world.

Three ladies in the square Bergamo

The best of the village is wound into the city in Italy.

Is that why we are charmed?

Authenticity is such a rare commodity in a world of chain stores and shopping malls, where we drive and don’t walk, where the value of shopping daily for your fresh produce has long been lost in the ‘big weekly shopping trip’.

We come to Italy for refreshment, for style, and to remember what family values and personalised service is all about.

Our stay will write an indelible chapter in our lives, for here romance is wound into everything.

In Bergamo Alta, slow style wraps around you at every step.

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