Cheap Seats: Bargain airfares to Italy and Spain
July 23, 2008
Next month — Aug. 29-31Bergamo, Italy: 102.98 pounds round tripFly easyJet from London Gatwick to Milan Malpensa.
Start in Bergamo’s more-modern lower city where art enthusiasts will find two must-see attractions. The Galleria dell’Accademia Carrara houses a collection of some 2,000 paintings from the 15th to 18th centuries. The Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, across the street, contains works by 20th-century masters.
Next, take the first of two funicular railways in Bergamo to the upper city with its historic center. Explore the many monuments and works in the main square — Piazza Vecchia. There tourists can sit and enjoy a coffee while listening to the chimes from the Torre Civica tower adjoining the 12th-century Courts of Justice.
Beyond the Courts of Justice is Piazza del Duomo, which features the cathedral dedicated to Alessandro, the city’s patron saint. Also on the piazza is the overly ornamented Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore and the pink-and-white marbled Colleoni Chapel, where Bartolomeo Colleoni, a well-respected Bergamese mercenary who fought for first Venice and then Milan, is entombed.
Grab your camera and take the second funicular up San Vigilio hill to visit the castle ruins that now make a picture-perfect viewpoint for photographing the city below.
If time allows, travel the 11 miles to San Pellegrino village to see the thermal resort, with its springs that supply the famous San Pellegrino water.
Three months — Oct. 28-31Santander, Spain: 119.62 pounds round tripFly Iberia and easyJet from London Luton to Santander.
Start your exploration of Santander at the Municipal Museum of Fine Arts, with works by Flemish, Spanish and Italian artists. In the same building is the Biblioteca y Casa-Museo de Menendez Pelayo, a 50,000-volume library amassed by Spanish scholar and literary critic Marcelino Menendez Pelayo.
From there you can walk to the cathedral, restored to its original 12th-century style after a damaging fire in 1941. Under the cathedral is the Church of Santìsimo Cristo, the oldest preserved building in Santander. Archaeological excavations show evidence of Roman occupation and of an early abbey. Glass flooring enables visitors to see through to the older structures underneath the existing building.
The Maritime Museum of Cantabria houses an aquarium, a vast whale skeleton, and various exhibits and displays on shipbuilding, sea voyages and cartography. After exploring the museum, step out onto one of the 11 beaches in Santander to enjoy a stroll or participate in one of the many water sports offered throughout the year, from snorkeling to sailing.
The municipal park, Parque de Matalenas, has woodland and meadow areas for walks, a public golf course and a zoo complete with kangaroos, deer and a sparkling lake.
Airfare prices include taxes and are courtesy of each airline’s Web site. Prices were verified as of Monday afternoon when Stripes UK went to press. Deals are not guaranteed to be available; restrictions may apply.