In a quiet square behind the Torre Gombito in Bergamo’s Città Alta (upper town) you will see a long marble trough that provides an interesting glimpse into 19th century life.
Piazza Luigi Angelini, which is off Via Mario Lupo on the left, used to be the site of il Lavatoio, Bergamo’s public wash tub.
Now that it has been cleaned and restored, you can see details such as the drain to prevent the water overflowing and the small channel that collected splashes from the washing.
Il Lavatoio was well built from Zandobbio marble and protected with a cast iron canopy. It was constructed on the orders of the Commune di Bergamo to provide inhabitants of the Città Alta with laundering facilities, to compensate them for the lack of running water in their houses.
The tub came into use in 1891, when the square must have become a lively hub where the women of the Città Alta enjoyed meeting up and exchanging gossip while they did their washing.
Il Lavatoio continued to be used well into the 1950s.
Now that everyone does their washing indoors, Piazza Luigi Angelini has become a very peaceful place, coming to life only on the occasional Sunday when an antiques market is held there.