A MAGICAL PLACE

Bergamo’s beautiful upper town, the Città Alta (pictured above), is a magical place well worth visiting. Use this website to help you plan your trip to Bergamo in Northern Italy and find your way to some of the other lovely towns and villages in Lombardia that are perhaps less well known to tourists.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Historic moment for Atalanta

Bergamo team qualify for Champions League


Atalanta have never before qualified to play in the Champions League
Atalanta have never before qualified
to play in the Champions League
Bergamo football team Atalanta made club history last night by clinching third place in the final Serie A table, meaning they qualify for the Champions League for the first time.

Atalanta Bergamasca Calcio, to give the club’s full name, beat Sassuolo 3-1 to finish the season with 69 points.

Inter Milan, who finished on 69 points but with an inferior goal difference, also qualify for the Champions League - Europe’s premier soccer competition - but AC Milan (68 points) and AS Roma (66) have to settle for places in the Europa League.

Two years ago, the Orobici or Nerazzurri, as they are popularly known, qualified for the Europa League, giving them their first taste of European football for 26 years, and did so again last season. This season they reached the final of the Coppa Italia for the first time in 23 years, losing to Rome club Lazio.

But qualifying for the Champions League trumps those achievements, reflecting well on the qualities of coach Gian Piero Gasparini, who has been in charge for just under three years.

Atalanta began the current Serie A season with a victory over Frosinone but failed to win any of their next seven matches, suffering four defeats.

Colombian striker Duvan Zapata has been Atalanta's top scorer
Colombian striker Duvan Zapata
has been Atalanta's top scorer
But they triumphed in six of the next eight to put themselves in contention for a top four place and have achieved consistent results since then, finishing the season with an unbeaten run of 13 matches.

They have been praised for their entertaining, attacking football under Gasparini. No team in Serie A has scored more goals than their tally of 77, which is seven more than champions Juventus.

Colombian Duvan Zapata, who finished as the club's top scorer this season with 23 goals, netted the first goal in the win over Sassuolo, which was officially a home match but was played at the Sassuolo stadium in Emilia Romagna because of redevelopment work at Atalanta’s own stadium in the Città Bassa. The others were scored by Argentinian forward Papu Gomez and the Croatian midfielder Mario Pasalic, on loan from Chelsea.

During the closing weeks of the season, the Orobici achieved some spectacular results, including away wins at Napoli and Lazio and a draw in Turin against Juventus.

Setting aside tribal loyalties, their achievement has been admired by Italian football fans because they did it on approximately a quarter of the budget of Juventus and the powerful Milan clubs.

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Friday, April 26, 2019

Atalanta reach final of Coppa Italia

Victory over Fiorentina clinches trip to Rome



Alejandro 'Papu' Gomez scored the winning goal for Atalanta in last night's match
Alejandro 'Papu' Gomez scored the winning
goal for Atalanta in last night's match
Bergamo’s football team, Atalanta, will attempt to win a major title for only the second time in the club’s history when they face the Rome team Lazio in the final of the Coppa Italia next month.

The nerazzurri came from a goal behind to beat Fiorentina 2-1 in the home second leg of the semi-final last night for a 5-4 aggregate victory.

Atalanta have not won a major trophy since lifting the Coppa Italia in 1963 but this was their second semi-final in two years in what is becoming an outstanding season under coach Gian Piero Gasparini.

The team came from behind to win at second-placed Napoli in Serie A on Monday to move level on points with fourth-placed AC Milan in the fight for the last Champions League spot. The nerazzurri have never previously qualified for the Champions League.

Last night, knowing they had to score at least after a 3-3 first-leg result in Florence gave Atalanta a potential advantage on the away-goals-count-double rule in the event of another draw, Fiorentina went ahead after just three minutes, when Luis Muriel’s shot beat Atalanta goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini after a good pass by Federico Chiesa.


Gian Piero Gasparini has been in charge of the Atalanta team since 2016
Gian Piero Gasparini has been in charge
of the Atalanta team since 2016
But Atalanta, who had knocked out holders Juventus in the quarter-finals, were level less than 10 minutes later.

A foolish challenge from Fiorentina defender Federico Ceccherini on Alejandro 'Papu' Gomez gave them a penalty, which former Fiorentina forward Josip Ilicic converted.

Argentina-born forward Gomez scored the winner in the 69th minute when Fiorentina goalkeeper Alban Lafont could not prevent a shot by the Atalanta captain going into the net, despite getting both hands to it. 

In the May 15 final, Atalanta will face Lazio at the Roman club’s ground, the Stadio Olimpico. Lazio eliminated AC Milan on Wednesday.

Atalanta play their home matches at the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia in Via Giulio Cesare in the Città Bassa, which they share with another Bergamo club, Albinoleffe, who currently play in Serie C, the third tier of Italian professional football.

Coach Gasparini, who represented Palermo and Pescara among other clubs in a 17-year playing career, has been on Atalanta’s bench since June 2016.

Read also:

Hail the brilliant new Atalanta!

Atalanta promoted to Serie A


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Thursday, April 11, 2019

Bergamo’s Mint


Old palace was where the city's coins were made


The strong wall of Palazzo Pacchiani Rivola
An unassuming old palace in Via Donizetti in the Città Alta used to house Bergamo’s Mint.

Palazzo Pachiani Rivola, at one time known as Palazzo Gromo dei Rivola, is at number 18 in the beautiful street named after the opera composer, Gaetano Donizetti. It has particularly strong walls and parts of it date back to the 13th century.

During what is known as the communal period, between the 11th and 14th centuries, when the citizens of Bergamo ruled themselves, the Mint of Bergamo, la zecca, was based in the palace.

The family who owned Palazzo Pachiani Rivola at that time, the Belfante di Rivola family, were believed to have received a good rent for housing the Mint.

The Rivola were one of the oldest and most powerful families in Bergamo . They were Guelphs and were involved in continual battles with the Suardi family, who were Ghibellines.

The only access to the house was along a small path named Gromo dei Rivola. This made the house so secure that the gold and silver from nearby mines were kept there after being brought to the city from the valleys. It is known that coins were minted in the palace by 1236, if not earlier.

The top of the street named
 after opera composer Donizetti
It has also been recorded that in 1254 a meeting was held in the Palazzo del Comune to agree regulations for Bergamo’s monetary system

A plaque on the wall of Palazzo Pachiani Rivola states that silver money was made on behalf of the Rivola family in the palace between 1236 and 1302.

Via Donizetti leads from Piazza Mercato delle Scarpe to Piazza Giuliani.


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Sunday, December 30, 2018

A Bergamo saying

Wise words to remember in 2019


A Popular Bergamo saying in dialect is:

'Scarpe larghe e bicér pié e tö i bùsere come i vé.' 
 In Italian this is: 

'Scarpe larghe e bicchiere pieno e prendi la vita come viene.'

This advises you to have : Wide shoes and a full glass and to take life as it comes!

Buon Anno and a Happy New Year from all at Best of Bergamo!

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Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Bergamo’s top golfer turns 62

Ex-factory worker put Italian golf on map


Costantino Rocca is one of the greatest golfers to come out of Italy. He was born just outside Bergamo
Costantino Rocca is one of the greatest golfers to come out
of Italy. He was born just outside Bergamo
The Bergamo golfer Costantino Rocca, who until this year was the most successful Italian in the history of competitive golf, celebrates his 62nd birthday today.

Rocca, born on December 4, 1956 in Almenno San Bartolomeo, just a few kilometres from the city, won five professional tournaments on the European circuit.

He enjoyed his best years in the mid-1990s, peaking with second place in the Open Championship at St Andrews in 1995.

He was beaten by the American John Daly in a four-hole play-off on the Scottish course but established a lasting place in golf folklore after the incredible putt he sank on the final green to deny Daly victory inside the regulation 72 holes.

Rocca shows his delight after sinking his incredible  65ft (20m) putt at the 1995 Open Championship
Rocca shows his delight after sinking his incredible
65ft (20m) putt at the 1995 Open Championship
Needing a birdie to be level with Daly at the top of the leaderboard after the American finished six under par, Rocca appeared to have blown his chance when his poorly executed second shot - a chipped approach that was meant to leave him in easy putting distance of the hole - did not even make it safely on to the green, coming to rest in an area just off the green known colloquially as ‘the Valley of Sin’.

It left him 65ft - almost 20m - short of the hole, needing somehow to make a putt that had first to go uphill and then break sharply to the right.

Extraordinarily, he pulled it off, to the delight of the gallery and the astonishment of Daly, who was watching on a TV monitor. Rocca flung his arms back in sheer joy before dropping to the ground and lay flat on his stomach with his face buried in the grass, drumming the turf with his fists, his whole body shaking with emotion.

It was described as a ‘miracle’ putt and when Rocca returned to the east Scotland course in April of this year, he had more than 20 attempts to reprise the shot but could not make it even once.

Rocca set up a company in Bergamo to promote golf
Rocca set up a company in
Bergamo to promote golf
The 1995 was jointly his best season with 1996, in each of which he finished fourth in the Order of Merit for the European tour.  He won five tour titles in total, the first of which was the 1993 Open de Lyon and the most prestigious of which was the 1996 Volvo PGA Championship.

Rocca's second-best finish in a major was a tie for fifth place in the 1997 US Masters, in which the 21-year-old rising star, Tiger Woods, won his first major title. 

The bergamaschi did defeat Woods later in the year in a vital singles match in the Ryder Cup at Valderrama in Spain, representing Europe against the United States. 

Rocca is regarded as the man who put Italian golf on the map and his position as the greatest golfer the country had produced remained unchallenged until this year, when Francesco Molinari not only drew level with and then passed his tally of five European tour wins, but also became the first Italian actually to win a major when he triumphed in the Open at Carnoustie, also in Scotland.

For 17 years, Rocca was the only Italian to play for Europe in the Ryder Cup until Molinari’s selection in 2010. Rocca had a 6-5-0 win-loss-half record in three Ryder Cup appearances, at 53% one of the best winning records in the history of the European team. 

Almenna San Bartolomeo is famous for its circular  Romanesque church, the Rotonda San Tomè
Almenna San Bartolomeo is famous for its circular
Romanesque church, the Rotonda San Tomè
In the 1995 Ryder Cup, Rocca made only the third hole-in-one in the competition's history.

Rocca used to work in a factory in Almenna that produced polystyrene before he took up golf professionally, initially working as a caddy and then as a caddy master at the nearby L'Albenza Golf Club. 

Be became a professional in 1981, the same year he married his wife, Antonella.

The couple have two children, 33-year-old Chiara, and Francesco, who is 27.  Both work for his Rocca’s Bergamo-based company, Rocca Golf Ambition, which encompasses a golf academy for aspiring players, a clinic for established players looking to improve their game, and support for young professionals.

Rocca played his last tour event in 2015, when he contested the Italian Open, an event which, extraordinarily, he never won in 33 attempts. He still plays on the European Seniors tour, so far winning two titles.

The town of Almenno San Bartolomeo, which is situated about 9km (6 miles) northwest of Bergamo along the valley of the Brembo river, is well known as the home of the Rotonda di San Tomè, an unusual circular church which is one of the most notable examples of Romanesque architecture in northern Italy. 


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Thursday, October 18, 2018

Visit Crespi d’Adda

One of Europe’s best preserved company villages


A view over the rooftops of Crespi d'Adda
A view over the rooftops of Crespi d'Adda
Bergamo offers visitors a feast of medieval history but for those interested in experiencing history of a more recent variety, a trip to the industrial village of Crespi d’Adda, which can be found about 20km (12.5 miles) southwest of the city, is something to consider.

Crespi d’Adda is one of the best preserved company villages - that is, a community built exclusively for the employees of a single business - in the whole of Europe.

It has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1995.

The village was the brainchild of Cristoforo Benigno Crespi, an industrialist from the town of Busto Arsizio, a textile centre on the road from Milan to Lake Maggiore.  He was born 185 years ago today, on October 18, 1833.

The main entrance to Cristoforo Crespi's cotton mill
The main entrance to Cristoforo Crespi's cotton mill
In 1869, Crespi bought some land near the town of Capriate San Gervasio close to the convergence of the Adda and Brembo rivers on a low-lying plain that forms a peninsula known as the Isola Bergamasca  or Bergamasque Island.  He identified it as the ideal place to build a large cotton mill.

Crespi was a capitalist entrepreneur but also a firm believer in the idea that a happy workforce is a productive workforce and he decided that his factory would be at the heart of its own mini-town, with every facility their workers might need right on their doorsteps.

Therefore, after digging a canal to provide hydraulic power,  he commissioned the renowned architect Angelo Colla to build not only a factory but houses, a school, a hospital, a wash house, a church, shops for groceries and clothes, a theatre and a social club. A public swimming pool was added later.

He and his son Antonio equipped the school with pens, pencils, exercise books and every other resource needed to educate their workers’ children and paid the salaries of the teachers.

Crespi himself lived in a villa made to look like a castle
Crespi himself lived in a villa made
to look like a castle
The houses were more English-looking than Italian style, arranging in neat rows, surrounded by gardens with vegetable plots. The streets were the first in Italy to be lit by public-funded electricity.

The church was a replica of the church of Santa Maria di Busto Arsizio, in the Crespi’s home town. In the cemetery attached, Cristoforo built a pyramid-shaped family mausoleum.

The Crespi family themselves, in keeping with their role of lords of the manor, lived in some style in a huge castle-like villa on the edge of the village. Other directors of the company were also provided with villas, albeit on a lesser scale.

Under their benevolent governance, however, the factory - itself a work of art, built in neo-medieval style with an imposing entrance and chimneys that resembled obelisks - managed to avoid the strikes and unrest that affected other parts of Italy’s industrial world.

Nowadays, although the factory remains, only a small part of it is used. The Crespis sold it in 1929 after the Great Depression hit them hard and though it continued as a textile factory until the beginning of the current century, production on a significant scale ceased in 2004.

Other aspects of Crespi d’Adda remain intact, however, and many of the current residents are descended from Cristoforo Crespi’s original employees.

Cristoforo Crespi, the factory owner
Cristoforo Crespi, the factory owner
Access to the village is limited. No traffic is allowed into the village during the afternoon in summer and there is no bus service. Tourist coaches are not allowed beyond a certain point.

However, Crespi d’Adda is very close to the towns of Capriate San Gervasio and Trezzo sull’Adda and is easily accessible on foot. The walk takes no more than 15 to 20 minutes and there is a footpath along the river Adda.

There are regular buses to Capriate and Trezzo sull'Adda from Bergamo. They are operated by the Locatelli Group and depart from the main bus station (across from the railway station). Most of the services are prefixed with the letter ‘V’ and the journey takes just over an hour. More information and departure times can be found here.  

(Photo credits: View over Crespi d'Adda by Dario Crespi; Factory building by Daniel Case; Crespi's villa by Ian Spackman)


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Monday, September 3, 2018

Bergamo musician Pietro Locatelli

The violinist who astonished listeners with his ability


Pietro Locatelli was born on Bergamo in 1695
Virtuoso violinist and Baroque composer Pietro Antonio Locatelli was born in Bergamo on this day in 1695.

He showed an astonishing talent for playing the violin while he was still a young boy and began playing with the orchestra at the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in the Città Alta when he was 14.

Pietro Locatelli is remembered in his native city of Bergamo by an area named after him in Longuelo, a suburb of the city.

In 1711, when he was 16 years old, Locatelli left to go to Rome and although it is not known whether he was able to study with Arcangelo Corelli before the composer’s death in 1713, he will have absorbed a lot of his influence by studying with the other eminent musicians in the city.

In 1714 Locatelli wrote to his father that he was a member of the band of household musicians working for Prince Michelangelo I Caetani, a notable political figure and scholar. While he was in Rome he made his debut as a composer, producing his XII Concerto Grossi Op I in 1721.

After 1725 his name crops up in Mantua, Venice, Munich, Berlin and Frankfurt and in every city he received rapturous acclaim for his violin performances. Many of his violin concertos were written at this time. The composer is perhaps best remembered for his L’Arte del violino, a group of 12 violin concerti for a solo violin.

The North Portal of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, with the Colleoni Chapel next door
The North Portal of the Basilica of Santa Maria
Maggiore, with the Colleoni Chapel next door
He was known to have been in Kassel in December 1728 where he was paid generously after his performance by Charles I Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel. Afterwards the resident organist wrote that Locatelli had ‘astonished his listeners with hugely difficult violin passages.’

The musician moved to live in Amsterdam in 1729, where he gave music lessons, performed privately and had his own music published professionally.

Locatelli died in 1764 in his house on the Prinsengracht in the city. A plaque next to the entrance door commemorates his stay there and refers to his birthplace, Bergamo.

The Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, where Locatelli played as a teenager, is in Piazza Duomo in the Città Alta. The basilica, which dates back to the 12th century, is considered to be one of the finest buildings in Lombardy and has a beautiful interior, with a richly decorated cupola and fine Flemish and Florentine tapestries and works of art.

At the back of the church is an elaborate white marble monument designed by Vincenzo Vela, marking the tomb of the 18th century opera composer Gaetano Donizetti, who was born and also died in Bergamo.

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