Bergamo & Florence & Milan
Well, we have a flight-induced stopover in Bergamo for one night. I hear it's pretty though so no complaints. We'll be staying near the train station and are wondering if there is anything decent for a nice casual, inexpensive meal at dinner time. Don't want to resort to hotel food. We might have a lunch either there or Milan depending on our flights too.
Also, I have searched the boards for tons of information regarding restaurants in Florence. I'm a foodie but my hubbie and teenager are not (sigh!) so we are looking for tasty but unpretentious places to eat. Last time I was there I didn't have a bad meal in 5 days. (Impressive!) We are there for only 2 days this time so we probably need 2 lunches and 2 dinners. I would appreciate any suggestions and hope to try Cibreo once in my life...someday... Molto grazie all!
Not to miss in Bergamo--you'll see in all the bakery windows these beautiful dome-shaped golden yellow polenta pastries, which are stuffed with cream. Amazing. Bergamo is gaga over polenta, and the Citta Alta is indeed beautiful.
If you want tasty, unpretentious & great value in Florence, go to Croce al Trebbio, on via delle Belle Donne, near Sta. Maria Novella church.
Bergamo has two parts: La Citta Alta up on the hill which is the old, charming part and La Citta Bassa which is modern and business-like, and where I'm fairly sure you are staying. Worth taking a taxi up the hill because it really is as charming as all get out.
In Citta Alta there is a wonderful restaurant called Il Gourmet. White tablecloth kind of place but only the tourists were dressed up when we were there -- the locals were exceedingly casual, including a large table of some kind of athletic club having a celebration. There's a web site so you can check it out. Alternatively if you walk along the main street of the Citta Alta (pedestrians only and somewhat steep, ask to be dropped off at the top) about mid-way along there is a piazza that has a number of restaurants with outdoor dining that may meet your specifications better. All have menus posted so you can see what takes your fancy. Don't remember the name of the one we ended up at but it was very good. It was the second one in on the left facing into the piazza.
Tasty but unpretentious in Florence: Trattoria Marione, very simple, very crowded, but very good -- best pasta with meat sauce I've ever had. I've heard that pasta is their strong point although we also had a fab veal chop there.
And to echo your thought, my experience is that although it's not impossible to get bad food in Italy it is very hard to do.
In the Old City of Bergamo is a famous restaurant/inn - Leone d'Oro - which specializes in polenta and game meats. Probably a cab ride from where you are staying. My recommendation is that you make an advance reservation if you want to go here, as it is quite popular. Not sure what the price range is but you can try to Google it.
As for Cibreo, try their trattoria a few doors from the main restaurant - same kitchen, lower prices, casual atmosphere (no credit cards accepted). Elsewhere in Florence, I did a post in December 2004 on about 10 restaurants with price levels and dishes to order which we had eaten in that month. Antico Fattore is just around the corner from the Uffizi near the main Piazza - their gnocchi in black truffle sauce is wonderful.