1 Via Bartolomeo Coleoni, Citta Alta , Bergamo, Italy
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I had always assumed Bergamo to be just a Ryanair stop; somewhere anonymous that was near the place you really wanted to go. But having a day to kill before my return flight I found myself changing my opinion. The old town of Bergamo is small but beautiful and a wander around its narrow alleys is a perfect way to spend an afternoon. And when you get tired of sightseeing you'll notice that Bergamo, in addition to having nice buildings, is also home to a surprisingly large number of pubs for an Italian town. Even more surprising is the fact that so many of them specialise in quality Belgian beers.
Papageno is situated on the narrow and winding main streets in Bergamo Old Town. When we first walked past it grabbed our attention thanks to the display of Belgian beers in its window. At the time we had just arrived, the sun was shining and inside looked dark and empty so we made a mental note and continued on. An hour or so later we walked by again and were unable to resist its call. Once inside it turned out that it only appeared dark when seen from the sunlit street. in fact it was actually bright without being blinding. We sat down and the barman brought us a beer menu.
Papageno not only specialises in Belgian beers but has a good eclectic mix. Rather than stocking only the more well known brands such as Stella we were able to find niche ones such as Duchesse de Bourgogne and some Lambics which I had never seen outside of Belgium itself. As we were the only people in the bar these arrived quickly and we could sit back and look around.
Papageno is a small place arranged around a semi-circular bar. It has seating for maybe 50 people but a lot of standing room if necessary. The furnishings are primarily wood and the floor is tiled. There is one unisex toilet cubicle which, while it wasn't dirty, did feel grubby and doubled as a storage for the cleaning utensils. The seats are not the sort you lounge in but are comfortable.
Papageno does not appear to be a party pub. Radiohead were playing when we first arrived and this was followed by some low key piano-jazz. All at background volume which allowed people talk. The single barman on duty was pleasant if somewhat distant (perhaps a result of language mismatch between him and us) and while he was quick when the bar was empty the service did slow when more people came in to shelter from a thunderstorm. Luckily we had full glasses at that stage.
Since we had a flight to catch we only had a short time to enjoy Papageno. It was a nice find in the heart of old Bergamo and provided an opportunity for some nice and rare Belgian beers. Always a good thing to happen, especially when it happens unexpectedly. Unfortunately we didn't get to see what it's like at night and determine if it has a life of its own or if it remains a place with little mixing between the patrons. But if we're back in Bergamo Old Town we'll by calling in to find out and enjoy a laid back beer.
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