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.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

When the bell tolls 100 times

Not to be missed in Bergamo's Città Alta...

Il Campanone
BIG BELL TOWER (il Campanone) 

The distinctive Campanone -- literally, the 'big bell' tower -- in Bergamo’s Città Alta (upper town) is a familiar part of the skyline, visible from miles away.
Bergamo’s bell tower dates back to at least the 12th century. It is also known as the Torre Civica (Civic Tower) and stands next to the Palazzo della Ragione, dominating a corner of Piazza Vecchia. From the top there are wonderful views over Bergamo and the surrounding countryside.
If you are in Piazza Vecchia at 10pm on any evening you will hear the bell toll 100 times marking the ancient curfew, when the gates in Bergamo’s walls were locked at night to keep the city safe from outsiders.
The bell tolled at 10pm to remind the Bergamaschi that it was time to come back inside the walls or be locked out for the night. Although residents and visitors to the Città Alta can now come and go as they please, the tradition of 100 chimes at 10pm continues.
The structure of the tower has been modified over the centuries as a result of fire damage and being struck by lightning. A clock face was added to it in the 15th century.
The big bell itself had a narrow escape during the Second World War when the Germans considered melting it down to manufacture weapons, but thankfully it survived.
Il Campanone, or la Torre Civica, is open on Saturdays and festive days only between 9.30 and 16.30. On other days it can be visited by request. There is a lift to the top.
To discuss arranging a visit, call into the Tourist Office in nearby Via Gombito.

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