Art, nature, history, wine and food: the city of Bergamo hides the secret of well-being and well-living. The zone is green and the province has many famous hotels and natural parks. Orobic Pre-Alps, Iseo Lake, Twin lakes: they are all places to discover and share with the people you love but Bergamo, the Upper City, must be visited at first and our mini travel guide is devoted to her.
Let’s start from the old town centre, the heart of the city imbued with history, fortified and surrounded by beautiful monuments. Our itinerary starts from Piazza Vecchia. The square is famous and very frequented. Arriving here means being surrounded by Renaissance works like an open air musuem. The square dates back to the15th century and in the middle of it you can admire the Fountain of Contarini of 1780. Its events are rather stormy; one of the two original sphinxes was replaced during a restoration work because it was in terrible conservation conditions and today we can admire only a copy. In 1885 it was dismantled and brought to the Lower City and replaced by a statue of Garibaldi; it returned at the beginning of the 20th century.
Piazza Vecchia also hosts Palazzo Nuovo, seat of the Town Hall and Angelo Mai city library. The building dates back to the 16th century but it has been restored over the centuries. The inner rooms have been decorated with Baschenis’ frescos.
Opposite, we can admire the Palace of Reason, one the oldest buildings of the city, dating back to the 12th century. It was a courthouse. In the 16th century, it was restored because of a fire which destroyed many parts of it. We mention the arcade open gallery on the ground floor with its porticos, low reliefs and a solar clock on the floor dating back to the 18th century. An open staircase leads to the Sala delle Capriate on the first floor. The building hosts Bramante’s frescos. You can visit the Palace of Reason every day, except for October and from November to February when it is open only on Saturdays and Sundays. Times can change in case of exhibitions and events.
The City Tower of Bergamo is another monument not to be missed. Known as Campanone for its bell which beats 100 peals every evening at about 10 p.m.to remember the old curfew announcing the closing of city doors. Thanks to a lift you can climb the tower and admire the entire square and the breath-taking landscape on the Alps.
City Tower of Bergamo
Ticket: 3 €
Opening: from November to Mars, Tuesday-Friday 9.30-13.00 and 14.30-18.00, Saturday and Sunday 9.30-18.00; from April to October 9.30-13.00 and Saturday and Sunday until 20.00
Telephone: 035 247116
Near Piazza Vecchia, the tourist, fascinated by the beauty of the historical buildings, can admire Piazza Duomo, seat of the church power. The Palace of Podestà is in this square, its origins date back to the Suardi’s family. It was built in the 12th century and it became the house of podestà, a sort of governor named by the Serenissima for a six-month period. Its facade was decorated with some frescos painted by Bramante. A flyover connects it to the Palace of Reason. It has been subjected to changes and restorations over the centuries.Along Piazza Duomo we find the cathedral of Saint Alexander Martyr.
The Duomo of Bergamo is the centre of the religious life and the symbol of the city. Its origins are very ancient; recent restoration works have allowed to discover a fresco called “ The Saints’ theory”and the ruins of an old Paleochristian church under the floor.The building conserves a 16th century crucifix and frescos painted by Andrea Previtali and Giovan Battista Moroni; a Madonna with Child, two Cariani’s doves and paintings by Cignaroli and Ricci. Behind the altar, there is the famous St John’s Martyr painted by Giambattista Tiepolo. Opposite of the altar, we find the Baptistery, an octagonal building of 1340 built by Giovanni da Campione. Originally it was a baptismal font for the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. When the baptism rites were moved to the Duomo, the Baptistery was dismantled. In 1856 it was recreated and brought to the canon yard, then dismantled again and recomposed opposite the Duomo.The walls inside are decorated with low reliefs representing Christ’s life and the marble statue of St John Baptist.
Duomo of Bergamo
Cathedral of St Alexander Martyr
Tel. 035 210223
Opening: only for baptism rites
Always in the old town centre there is the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, built by the will of believers who prayed piously the Virgin to escape famine and plague in 1133, as explained in an inscription on the White Lions’ gate. Over the centuries the Basilica has been decorated with artworks, marbles and ornate decorations. The bell tower dates back to 1436 on the project of Bertolasio Moroni da Albino with marble decorations made by Ardighino de Bustis. To visit the Colleoni’s Chapel with some frescos painted byTiepolo, the northern gate with lions, the central apse and the gate made by Giovanni da Campione.
Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore
Opening: from November to Mars 9.00-12.30/14.30-17.00; from April to October 9.00-12.30/14.30-18.00
Tel. 035 223327
Not to be missed a walk through the narrow alleys in the old Bergamo, along not crowded squares which were direct and indirect protagonists of the conflicts between Guelphs and Ghibellines.Those wo love music can visit the Donizetti Museum (Bergamo is the native city of Gaetano Donizetti) and the Donizetti Theatre. The museum is in the Palace of Mercy, a baroque building opposite St Grata’s cloister. It hosts some objects, documents, memories and portraits of the musician.
Via Arena, 9
Tel. 035 428 4769
Getting Bergamo is very easy: the city is connected with the main motorways. We recommend to take A4 motorway from Milan to Venice and exit at Bergamo Bassa. The railway station is at Bergamo Bassa and it is connected with Milan, Lecco and Brescia. Regional trains leave very frequently. The airport of Bergamo is Orio al Serio, a few kilometres from the city and about 45 km from Milan. If you prefer the bus, the NET society connects Milan to Bergamo. For those who travel by car, we remember that in Bergamo Alta trafic is forbidden at certain times. We recommend to contact the local police to know the exact days and access times to avoid fines. As an alternative, there are a lot of buses which connect the Upper City with the Lower City.