Bergamo, Polenta e Osei and Other Desserts

February 7th, 2008 · Tags: Discovering Food · Discovering Italy · Food

A quick day trip from Milan, Bergamo is an interesting city that is cleanly divided into two parts: Bergamo Alta and the newer, more modern Bergamo. Bergamo Alta sits back on a hill, overlooking the bustling city center below.

Piazza del Duomo in Bergamo Alta, Italy

Bergamo Alta can be reached easily by taking a short funicolare ride up to the upper city. A perfect place for a passeggiata, Bergamo Alta is a maze of small streets and window shops.

And many, many pastry shops and bakeries to tempt you along the way.

More fresh pastries in Bergamo Alta, Italy

Ever eaten sweet polenta? No? This dessert is a Bergamasco specialty, and even though it’s called Polenta e Osei, it is in no way actually made of polenta. It resembles a mound of polenta with a little bird (osei) on top of it.

The polenta-like appearance is due to a yellow fondant covering rolled in big crystals of sugar, with a dollop of apricot jam on top. Inside, a yellow cake (pan di spagna) hides a cream center of usually hazelnut. The marzipan birds perched on top range from the very elaborate to more impressionist/abstract art. I won’t tell you what I thought some of the “birds” were on some polenta e osei that I saw, but if a brown marzipan shape gets wilted…. Polenta e Osei mimics its savoury (and real polenta) twin of the same name, yet the sweet version seems to be the more well-known one. Rowena has another Polenta e Osei with a less-abstract marzipan bird.

Polenta e Osei in Bergamo Alta, Italy

If Polenta e Osei isn’t to your taste, there were many more pastries to be seen and eaten. Lucky for you, you’re doing a passeggiata at the same time so you can walk off some of those pastry calories! This Torta Millefoglie looks especially interesting and I would love to break it open. I love that they stack everything!

Torta Millefoglie in Bergamo Alta, Italy

These Cannoli alla Crema aren’t made the traditional way but filled with meringa, meringue instead of ricotta.

Cannoli alla Crema (Meringue) in Bergamo Alta, Italy

Pear and chocolate is a popular combination in Italy. Here they are tucked inside a pastry shell called Sfogliate Pere e Cioccolato.

Sfogliate Pere e Cioccolato - Pear and Chocolate Pastries in Bergamo Alta, Italy

There weren’t only sweets in Bergamo – here are some fresh pasta and bread – oh wait, there are desserts in this picture, too.

Fresh Pasta & Pastries in Bergamo Alta, Italy

Which one of these pastries would you try? The Polenta e Osei?

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