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.


Birthday of Bergamo poet Pietro Ruggeri da Stabello

Talented writer produced verses in local dialect

Ruggeri da Stabello's mounted bust under a portico in Piazza Pontida in the Città Bassa
Ruggeri da Stabello's mounted bust under a
portico in Piazza Pontida in the Città Bassa
Pietro Ruggeri da Stabello, who became famous after his death for the poetry he had written in his local dialect, was born on this day, 15 July, in 1797 in Stabello, a hamlet near Zogno in Lombardy.

Ruggeri da Stabello wrote a valuable account of events that occurred in the north of Italy during revolts against the Austrian occupying army, which were later collected in a volume entitled Bergamo Revolution of the Year 1848.

He was the second son of a Bergamo couple, Santo Ruggeri, and Diana Stella Ceribelli, who had gone to live in Val Brembana to escape the riots that followed the fall of the Republic of Venice in 1797.

When Pietro Ruggeri became an adult, he added the words da Stabello to his name, to honour the small village where he had grown up, just outside the municipality of Zogno in Val Brembana, to which it belongs.

After Pietro Ruggeri moved to live in Bergamo to study for a diploma in accountancy, he began to compose verses, inspired by his contact with local people and what he had seen of their daily lives in the city.

He wrote his work, Letter of Pietro Ruggeri da Stabello against the widespread misery of 1816, in the Italian language, more for his own pleasure than as a literary exercise. He went on to write four more works in Italian between 1820 and 1822 that were never published.

Ruggeri's bust is mounted on a plinth within a fountain
Ruggeri's bust is mounted on a
plinth within a fountain

Ruggeri da Stabello started to wrote poetry in the Bergamo dialect from about 1822. As his fame spread, he was portrayed in a painting by Bergamo painter, Enrico Scuri, and invited to social gatherings to meet other learned people in the area, while he  continued to do a variety of jobs to earn his living.

He founded and became president of The Philarmonic Academy in Bergamo and he was painted on the occasion by Luigi Deleidi, a Bergamo artist, who was also known as Nebbia.

Ruggeri da Stabello wrote sonnets dedicated to his friends and some well-known people, such as the painter Francesco Coghetti. He started to compile, but never finished, a Bergamo-Italian vocabulary.

During 1848, he wrote his volume about the revolts against the Austrians while he was being forced to take refuge in the safer territory of Zogno, because of verses he had written in honour of Pope Pius IX and of Italy, when the Austrians returned to occupy the country.

Pietro Ruggeri da Stabello died in Bergamo in 1878. He was buried in the cemetery of San Maurizio in the Città Bassa, but his tomb was lost after the cemetery was closed.

However, his writing was evaluated after his death and he was recognised as the greatest writer in the Bergamo dialect ever known. In appreciation of his talent, his native city named a street after him and erected a mounted bust of him in Piazza Pontida, an historic square in the Città Bassa.

In 1933, another Bergamo citizen, Bortolo Belotti, published some of his poetry in the volume, Pietro Ruggeri, poet from Bergamo.

Modern Italian is now the most widely spoken language in Bergamo, but the Bergamo dialect, dialetto Bergamasco, is still seen on menus, street signs and often reproduced in popular Bergamo sayings. Linguistically it is closer to French and Catalan, than to Italian. It is still spoken in some of the small villages out in the province of Bergamo and the area around Crema, another city in Lombardy.

Because of migration in the 19th and 20th centuries, Bergamo dialect is still spoken in some communities in southern Brazil.



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Death in the High City

A successful decade for Bergamo’s first British crime novel

Via Colleoni is pictured on  the cover of the new edition
Via Colleoni is pictured on 
the cover of the new edition
Death in the High City, the first detective novel written in English to be set in Bergamo, was published ten years ago this summer.

To mark the tenth anniversary, East Wind Publishing have issued a new edition of the mystery with a front cover showing Bergamo’s Via Colleoni at night. The historic street in the Città Alta, Bergamo’s upper town, features as a key location in the novel.

Referred to as un romanzo giallo in Italian, Death in the High City centres on the investigation into the death of an English woman staying in Bergamo while working on a biography of the opera composer Gaetano Donizetti, who was born and died in the city.

The dead woman had been living in an apartment in Bergamo’s Città Alta and much of the action takes place within the walls of the upper town.

The novel was the first in a series to feature the characters of Kate Butler, a freelance journalist, and Steve Bartorelli, a retired Detective Chief Inspector, who is of partly Italian descent.

At first the local police do not believe there is enough evidence to open a murder enquiry and so journalist Kate Butler, the victim’s cousin, arrives in Bergamo to try to get some answers about her relative’s death, on behalf of her elderly aunt, who is too frail to make the journey herself.

Kate visits many of the places in Bergamo with Donizetti connections and her enquiries also take her out to Lago d’Iseo and into the countryside around San Pellegrino Terme.

But after her own life is threatened and there has been another death in the Città Alta, her partner, Steve Bartorelli, joins her in Bergamo to help unravel the mystery and trap the killer.

Bergamo's mayor, Giorgio Gori, was given a copy of the book
Bergamo's mayor, Giorgio Gori,
was given a copy of the book
The reader can enjoy Bergamo’s wonderful architecture and scenery from the comfort of their own armchair, while savouring the many descriptions in the novel of local food and wine.

Author Val Culley has been delighted with the level of interest shown in what was her first novel, both in the UK and in Italy.

She was invited to present Death in the High City to an audience in San Pellegrino Terme and sign copies of the book, as a guest at the fifth anniversary celebrations of Bergamo Su e Giù, a group of independent tour guides based in the city. During the evening, she was presented with a book about San Pellegrino Terme by the town’s mayor.

She also made two appearances on Bergamo TV to talk about the novel with presenter Teo Mangione during his daily breakfast programme. During one of her visits to the studios, she presented a copy of the book to the Mayor of Bergamo, Giorgio Gori, who took office the year the novel was published.

Val was invited to Bergamo for a further visit by the Cambridge Institute to give a talk about Death in The High City to a group of 80 Italian teachers of English and to sign copies for them.

She has also formally presented a copy of Death in the High City to the Biblioteca Civica (Civic Library), a beautiful 16th century building in white marble, designed by Vincenzo Scamozzi, situated in Piazza Vecchia, a location that features frequently in the novel.

She was later invited to give a talk about Death in the High City at a sixth form college in Zogno, a comune in Valle Brembana set in beautiful countryside in the hills above Bergamo.

Another highlight was when the New York Times referred to Death in the High City in a travel feature they were running about Bergamo.

The novel came out in Kindle format in May 2014 and a paperback version was released in July 2014. It has since sold copies in the UK, Italy, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Germany, America, Australia, Canada, and Mexico.

Death in the High City will interest readers who enjoy the ‘cosy’ crime fiction genre, or like detective stories with an Italian setting.

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Glory night for Atalanta

La Dea put Bergamo on football map

Fans of Atalanta celebrated victory in Piazza  Vittorio Veneto in the centre of the Città Bassa
Fans of Atalanta celebrated victory in Piazza 
Vittorio Veneto in the centre of the Città Bassa
Bergamo’s football club Atalanta made history last night by winning the first European trophy in their 116-year history.

They beat hot favourites Bayer Leverkusen - the newly-crowned Bundesliga champions - in emphatic style to become Europa League champions, winning 3-0 in the final at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland.

It was the German team’s first defeat in 52 matches, ending an unbeaten run that began in May, 2023 and was the longest by a top-level team in European football history.

Although Atalanta - known by their nickname La Dea (the Goddess) - have played in Serie A - the top division of Italian football - for much of their history, their only trophy success before last night was winning the Coppa Italia in 1963.

Their hero in Dublin was their 26-year-old English-born winger Ademola Lookman, who scored all three goals, two in the first half and a third with 15 minutes remaining in the second half, which killed off any hope of a comeback by Leverkusen.

Lookman is embraced by a member of Bergamo's coaching staff at the final whistle
Lookman is embraced by a member of
Atalanta's coaching staff at the final whistle

As well as those who travelled to Dublin to support the nerazzurri, thousands more gathered in the centre of Bergamo, where the match was shown on giant TV screens and celebrations continued long into the night.

Ademola, who joined Atalanta from a German team, RB Leipzig, in 2022, is enjoying the most successful period of his career, having started out as a teenager with the English team Charlton Athletic.

This season has seen him score 15 goals for Atalanta, as well as three in the Africa Cup of Nations, where his team, Nigeria - his parents' homeland - reached the semi-finals.

Italian journalists joked with the London-born player that he might see a street named after him in Bergamo to recognise his achievement and Lookman spoke of his affection for the place he has made his home for the last two years.

"I feel the support from the fans from the first minute I was in Bergamo," he said. "The city of Bergamo gives me a sense of calmness. It's a very calm, relaxed city and that has helped me a lot with my living style.”

Atalanta achieved notable wins over Liverpool and Olympique Marseille in reaching the final. 

Gian Piero Gasperini has been with Atalanta since 2016
Gian Piero Gasperini has been
with Atalanta since 2016
The victory is also a vindication of the club’s faith in their head coach. Gian Piero Gasperini, who hails from just outside Turin, has been in charge since 2016. This is his first trophy too.

Italian coaches rarely stay in post for more than a couple of seasons but under Gasperini Atalanta have reached the Coppa Italia final three times and played in European competitions in six of the last seven seasons, including three in the UEFA Champions League.

Winning the Europa League earns them a place in next season’s Champions League and, with two matches remaining, they could still finish as high as third in Serie A.

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Bergamo’s Atalanta reach first European final

La Dea make history with win over Marseille

Bergamo’s top football team, Atalanta, achieved a piece of club history at the Gewiss Stadium on Thursday evening (May 9) when a comfortable win over the French team Olympique Marseille secured their first appearance in a European final.

La Dea beat Marseille 3-0 in the second leg for a 4-1 aggregate victory in the semi-final of the Europa League competition.

A crowd of around 15,000 in the Gewiss Stadium, which can be found near the centre of the Città Bassa, in the Borgo Santa Caterina area, watched the match, with the capacity currently reduced because of redevelopment.

They saw the English-born Nigerian international winger Ademola Lookman score Atalanta’s opening goal in the first half, before Matteo Ruggeri, the locally-born Italian Under-21 defender, and the Mali forward El Bilal Toure added further goals in the second half.

Gian Piero Gasperini is Atalanta's manager
Gian Piero Gasperini
is Atalanta's manager
Atalanta will meet the German team Bayer Leverkusen in the final at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on May 22.  It promises to be a tough task for La Dea: Leverkusen, already crowned Bundesliga champions, are unbeaten in 49 matches in all competitions.

Managed by Gian Piero Gasperini, who has been in charge since 2016, the closest Atalanta have previously been to a European final was in 1988, when, as a second-division side, they made it to the semi-finals of the now-defunct European Cup-Winners’ Cup.

Securing their place in the Europa League final continues a run of success under Gasperini that has seen the team qualify for the UEFA Champions League three times, reaching the quarter-finals in 2020, as well as finishing runners-up in the Coppa Italia twice.

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Andrea Moroni - architect

The other talented Moroni from Bergamo

Moroni's home town of Albino occupies a  position in Val Seriana, near Bergamo
Moroni's home town of Albino occupies a 
position in Val Seriana, near Bergamo

Bergamo-born architect Andrea Moroni, who designed many beautiful buildings in Padua and the Veneto region, died on 28 April 1560, 536 years ago today, in Padua.  

Moroni designed acclaimed Renaissance buildings but has tended to be overlooked by architectural historians because his career coincided with that of Andrea Palladio.

Born into a family of stonecutters, Moroni was the cousin and contemporary of Giovan  Battista Moroni, the brilliant portrait painter. They were both born in Albino, a comune - municipality - about 14km (nine miles) to the north east of Bergamo, in Val Seriana, which was given the honorary title of city in 1991.

Moroni the architect has works attributed to him in Brescia, another city in Lombardy about 50 km (31 miles) to the south east of Bergamo. He is known to have been in the city between 1527 and 1532, where he built a choir for the monastery of Santa Giulia.

He probably also designed the building in which the nuns could attend mass in the monastery of Santa Giulia and worked on the church of San Faustino.

As a result, he made a name for himself with the Benedictine Order and obtained commissions for two Benedictine churches in Padua, Santa Maria di Praglia and the more famous Basilica di Santa Giustina.

Andrea Moroni was the architect behind the Basilica di Santa Giustina in Padua
Andrea Moroni was the architect behind the
Basilica di Santa Giustina in Padua
His contract with Santa Giustina was renewed every ten years until his death and he settled down to live in Padua.

He was commissioned by the Venetian Government to build the Palazzo del Podestà, which is now known as Palazzo Moroni in Via VIII Febbraio, and is currently the seat of Padua city Council. It is considered one of the most significant Renaissance buildings in the entire Veneto region.

Moroni was also involved in the construction of the Orto Botanico, Padua’s famous botanical gardens, where medicinal plants were grown, and he designed some of the university buildings.

It is known that he supervised the construction of Palazzo del Bo, the main university building in the city, but there is some controversy over who designed the palace’s beautiful internal courtyard. Famous names such as Jacopo Sansovino and Palladio have been suggested, rather than Moroni, contributing to his talent tending to be overlooked over the centuries. 

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Lago di Endine

Bergamo's tranquil lake

Monasterolo del Castello looks over the southern end of Lago di Endine
Monasterolo del Castello looks over the
southern end of Lago di Endine
As well as the many delights the city has for visitors to discover, Bergamo province has its own picture-perfect lake, Lago di Endine, a shimmering gem out in Val Cavallina.

Surrounded by banks of thick reeds, which provide an ideal breeding ground for fish and birds, the lake offers a tranquil spot for both local people and tourists to relax in.

You can walk all the way round Lago di Endine’s 14 kilometres (8.7 miles) of shores on well-maintained level footpaths, and take in its unique beauty, while pausing occasionally to take pictures, or rest at the many benches and picnic tables thoughtfully placed around the lake.

In the summer, the clean waters of the lake are ideal for swimming, sailing, canoeing, and windsurfing, but motor boats are not allowed on the lake to preserve the peaceful atmosphere.

During the winter, the lake can sometimes become frozen over. People used to skate on it in the past, but this is now forbidden by the municipality for safety reasons.

Snow-capped mountain peaks are visible in this winter view at the northern end
Snow-capped mountain peaks are visible in
this winter view at the northern end
Lago di Endine is long and narrow, almost like a river, and you can walk all the way round it comfortably in a day, while remaining close to the water and completely undisturbed by any traffic. The depth of the water is 9.4 metres (31 feet) at its deepest point.

The clear waters of Lago di Endine are regularly replenished by torrents of water that descend from the slopes of the surrounding mountains.

The surrounding villages of Monasterolo del Castello, Endine Gaiano, Spinone al Lago and Ranzanico all have bars and restaurants with terraces with superb views over the lake. Local dishes and fresh fish from the lake, such as perch, carp, eels, pike, and tench, are on the menus.

There are plenty of car parks for visitors to use situated above the lake and there are regular buses from Bergamo to Lago di Endine that stop at various points along the lake.  The journey takes around 35 minutes by car and up to 50 minutes by bus.

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Bergamo sculptor Giovanni Maria Benzoni

Artist who lived in Rome but stayed in touch with ‘home’ city

Benzoni's self-portrait bust resides at the Biblioteca Civica Angelo Mai
Benzoni's self-portrait bust resides
at the Biblioteca Civica Angelo Mai
The 19th century sculptor Giovanni Maria Benzoni, who was born in a mountainous village about 35km (22 miles) north of Bergamo, spent the whole of his working life in Rome and achieved considerable fame there, yet always regarded Bergamo as his spiritual home and often returned to the city.

He became a member of the University of Bergamo and accepted commissions to create busts of famous citizens. His own self-portrait bust resides in the Biblioteca Civica Angelo Mai, on Piazza Vecchia in the Città Alta. 

Benzoni became so famous in Rome in the first half of the 19th century that collectors and arts patrons in the city dubbed him the “new Canova” after the great Neoclassical sculptor Antonio Canova.

Born on 28 August, 1809 - 214 years ago today, Benzoni moved to Rome as a teenager to take a job in another sculptor’s  workshop and to study his craft at the prestigious Accademia di San Luca, later setting up his own workshop in the capital, where he produced hundreds of allegorical and mythological scenes as well as busts and funerary monuments. 

Yet he was regarded by Romans as a bergamasco - one of a celebrated group of bergamaschi based in Rome in the early 19th century, including the composer Gaetano Donizetti, the philologist Cardinal Angelo Mai and the painter Francesco Coghetti.

He was later commissioned to sculpt a monumental tomb for Cardinal Mai in the Basilica of Sant’Anastasia al Palatino in the centre of Rome.

The frescoed Torre dell'Orologio in the town of Clusone, hear Benzoni's home village
The frescoed Torre dell'Orologio in the town
of Clusone, hear Benzoni's home village
Benzoni was born in Songavazzo, a village in the province of Bergamo just outside Clusone, a beautiful small town nestling on a plain against the backdrop of the Alpi Orobie - sometimes translated as the Orobic Alps. 

His parents, Giuseppe and Margherita, were poor farmers. Giovanni Maria worked briefly as a shepherd, but his father died when he was around 11 years old, after which he was sent to work in his uncle’s small carpentry shop at Riva di Solto, on the western shore of Lago d’Iseo, around 40km (25 miles) from Bergamo.

He began to show a talent for carving religious statues which came to the attention of a wealthy patron called Giuseppe Fontana, who was impressed enough to speak about him to Count Luigi Tadini, who would later open the Tadini Academy of Fine Arts in Lovere, another town on Lago d’Iseo.

Tadini asked Benzoni to make a copy of the Stele Tadini, the sculpture made for him by Antonio Canova in memory of the count’s son Faustino, who had died at a young age.

He was so impressed by Benzoni’s attention to detail and the accuracy of the reproduction that he arranged for him to attend a college in Lovere. 

Benzoni's bust of his patron, Count Luigi Tadini, by the lake in Lovere
Benzoni's bust of his patron, Count
Luigi Tadini, by the lake in Lovere
When he reached the age of 18 or 19, having failed to obtain a place for him at the Brera Academy in Milan or at the Accademia Carrara in Bergamo, Tadini took Benzoni to Rome, where he would work in the workshop of Giuseppe Fabris - an artist who would later became director general of the Vatican museums - and attend the prestigious Accademia di San Luca, where his fees were paid by Count Tadini.

Benzoni’s elegant marble sculptures had echoes of Canova’s work and collectors in Rome soon began to speak of him as “il novello Canova” - the new Canova. 

After earning some money for his work, he opened a small studio in Via Sant'Isidoro, in the centre of Rome, off the street now called Via Vittorio Veneto. 

He later moved to bigger premises in Via del Babuino, between the Spanish Steps and Piazza del Popolo, where he employed more than 50 assistants. Among his most famous works were Cupid and Psyche, the Veiled Rebecca and Flight from Pompeii. 

Benzoni, who married into a noble Roman family and had six children, sculpted a statue of his first patron, Count Luigi Tadini, which stands on a plinth in a lakeside garden opposite the Tadini Academy in Lovere.

Tadini established the Accademia di Belle Arti Tadini in the lakefront Palazzo Tadini in 1829 and it has become one of the most important art galleries in Italy. 

Benzoni died in Rome in 1873.

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