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One look at Bergamo’s enchanting citadel, which gazes across the city from behind 6km of Unesco-protected Venetian wall, and you’ll surely be spellbound.

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For starters, there’s history – and plenty of it. Its Città Alta (or Upper Bergamo) is enriched with religious sites, like the magnificent Santa Maria Maggiore Church, that date all the way back to the 12th century, while a system of secret tunnels that have been concealed under the city for more than 1,500 years makes for a fascinating day of discovery.

Surrounding the walls that enclose its historic centre, Lower Bergamo has all the trappings of a flourishing modern metropolis. Independent fashion boutiques like La Bottega di Nonna Betta, which specialises in rich cashmere knitwear, and local jewellery maker Dessel are proof that you don't have to travel to the country's major cities to discover true Italian artisanship, while cool cafès and inventive restaurants give visitors plenty to chew over. Step beyond the city limits into the surging Alpine hillsides and you'll discover adrenaline-swirling activities, like rafting, mountain biking and skiing, as well as some of the most famous cheesemakers in all of Italy. Whichever way you slice it up, few destinations are as rewarding as Bergamo.