PERFECT CORNER OF EUROPE

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Keen to try out one of the new Ryanair routes from Belfast, MICHAEL BEATTIE headed to the beautiful Province of Bergamo, Northern Italy via the new Belfast International-Milan route…

I think I may just have found the perfect corner of Europe. Imagine a beautiful blue lake surrounded by steep mountains and along its narrow coastal road, picturesque towns and villages every few kilometres.

The roads into the hills twist and turn through more pretty and sometimes ancient little towns.

Those hills are perfect for rigorous walks and stunning vistas. When the snow comes they’re ideal for skiing.

The local food is prepared with great attention and pride, the local cheeses a particular delight whether savoured on the farm where they were made or in the fine-dining restaurants in the city.

And all of this is just a two and half hour flight from Belfast International Airport.

Welcome to the Province of Bergamo, in northern Italy.

It sits between Lake Como and Lake Garda, mountainous in the north as it reaches towards Switzerland with flatter land to the south. The province is bisected by the A4 motorway running west to east across the country from Turin to Venice.

At its centre is the ancient city of Bergamo, and Ryanair’s cheap-as-chips flights from Belfast have opened up the region to Northern Ireland travellers.
On my trip I chatted with a group of farmers heading over for an agricultural show in Bologna. “It’s working out cheaper than the Balmoral Show!’ one of them quipped.

I also bumped into an old acquaintance from school days. He was leading a group of 17 motorcyclists from the Ulster section of the BMW Club to a major trade show in Milan. He said that without the new route, they wouldn’t have been able to make it.

But travellers passing onwards from Bergamo to the major cities east and west, are missing a treat. The area is a treasure chest of riches – cultural, historical, culinary and natural.

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