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.

Friday, March 25, 2022

Bergamo’s airport passes 50-year milestone

First commercial flight took off in 1972

In 1972, the airport's facilities consisted of a small single-storey building - a far cry from today
In 1972, the airport's facilities consisted of a small
single-storey building - a far cry from today
Bergamo’s international airport this week celebrated 50 years since the first commercial flight left the runway at Orio al Serio.

The flight, operated by the former Itavia airline using one of their McDonnell Douglas DC-9 aircraft, took off at 9.15am on 21 March bound for Rome, due to land around one hour later. There were just 18 passengers on board. 

The anniversary was marked by a presentation at the Teatro Donizetti in Bergamo’s Città Bassa, at which Giovanni Sanga - the president of SACBO, the company that runs the airport - explained how traffic through the airport has expanded so rapidly in the last 20 years that Orio al Serio - known nowadays as Il Caravaggio - is now the third busiest airport in Italy.

Built on the site of what had been a World War Two military airfield, Il Caravaggio handled more than 13.8 million passengers in 2019 - the last full year before the Covid-19 pandemic - which meant only Rome Leonardo da Vinci and Milan Malpensa were busier. In 2000, the numbers of passengers through the airport was only one million

Ryanair is by far Bergamo's biggest airline today,
serving more than 100 destinations
Including seasonal charter flights, more than 20 airlines link Bergamo with around 135 destinations. By far the biggest carrier using Il Caravaggio is the Irish airline Ryanair, which flies to more than 100 destinations. The airport - usually referred to in timetables as Milan Bergamo - is Ryanair’s third largest hub after London Stansted and Dublin.

Less than four kilometres (2.5 miles) from the city, Il Caravaggio is easily accessible with the Bergamo's railway station only 15 minutes away by the Linea 1 service run by ATB (Azienda Trasporti Bergamo). From the station, the service travels along the main thoroughfare through the Città Bassa, stopping within a short walk of most of the major hotels, to Città Alta, to which the journey takes about half an hour.

There are plans to open a railway station at the airport in 2024.

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Thursday, March 24, 2022

Who is Giorgio Gori, Bergamo’s mayor?

Giorgio Gori has been Mayor of Bergamo since 2014
Giorgio Gori has been Mayor of
Bergamo since 2014
Giorgio Gori, Mayor of Bergamo since 2014, is a well known figure in his home city but saw his profile rise further afield during the first stage of the Covid-19 pandemic, when Bergamo found itself at the epicentre of the crisis.

As television crews descended on the city, Gori was regularly interviewed on camera and thus was seen by audiences in many countries as the story of Covid-19’s devastating impact on Italy dominated news bulletins.

Gori’s own background is in the media. Educated in the magnificent surroundings of the Liceo Classico Paolo Sarpi in the historic Città Alta, he went on to study architecture at the University of Milan but also was keen to become a journalist. He began to contribute to local newspapers, including L’Eco di Bergamo, and the city’s own television station, BergamoTV.

In 1984 he joined the television station Rete4, which at the time belonged to the Arnaldo Mondadori publishing house and later became part of Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset stable. Gori worked for Mediaset for 15 years. Between 1991 and 2001, he was director of the three Mediaset networks, Rete4, Canale5 and Italia1. 

It was through Canale5 that Gori met his wife, the journalist and TV presenter Cristina Parodi, who was one of the faces of Canale5’s flagship news programme, TG5, which launched in 1992. They were married in 1995, made their home in Bergamo and have three children, Benedetta, Alessandro and Angelica.

Gori left Mediaset in 2001 to partner Ilaria Dallatana and Francesca Canetta in setting up a television production company, Magnolia, which specialised in the development and production of original formats for television and interactive media. Magnolia collaborated with the Rai, Mediaset, LA7 and Sky networks and had some memorable successes, including the hit shows L'isola dei famosi, Piazzapulita, MasterChef Italia e L'eredità.

The neoclassical facade of the Liceo Classico Paolo Sarpi in the Città Alta
The neoclassical facade of the Liceo
Classico Paolo Sarpi in the Città Alta
As a student, Gori had been quite politically active and even as he pursued a career, he never turned away completely from politics. In 2012 he took the bold decision to leave Magnolia in order to devote himself to fulfilling some political ambitions and to help his home city, for which he had much affection.

He joined the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and in 2012 worked as a close adviser to Matteo Renzi, then Mayor of Florence, as he prepared what was ultimately his successful bid to become prime minister.

In Bergamo, Gori set up the InNova Bergamo Association with the aim of studying the issues concerning his city and in 2014 was elected the city’s mayor, defeating the incumbent Franco Tentorio, who represented Berlusconi’s centre-right Forza Italia.

Gori failed in his attempt in 2017 to become regional president of Lombardy but in 2019 was re-elected as Mayor or Bergamo, the first to be returned for a second term since the position became subject to a public vote.

During the first Covid-19 lockdown in Italy, Gori - whose 62nd birthday is today - wrote a book entitled Riscatto - Bergamo e Italia: Appunti per un futuro possibile (Ransom - Bergamo and Italy: Notes for a possible future) in which he describes his life and professional experiences, the story of Bergamo during the first wave of Covid-19, and sets out his view of the path Italy must take to be reborn after the pandemic.

The Liceo Classico Paolo Sarpi, the high school attended by Gori, is an historic institution in Piazza Rosate in Bergamo’s Città Alta, opposite the rear entrance of the city’s cathedral. 

Identifiable by its neoclassical facade designed by Ferdinando Crivelli, the Liceo has its roots in the first public school of Grammar, Humanities, and Rhetorics established by the Republic of Venice in 1506 under the name of Accademia della Misericordia. It was renamed after Paolo Sarpi, a Venetian polymath, in 1803, by Napoleonic decree. 

The building that houses the modern school was built between 1845 and 1852 under the auspices of the Austrian Government, when it was known as Regio Liceo.

In 1860, the academy contributed to the Italian Unification with 70 students joining Garibaldi's Expedition of the Thousand, aimed at annexing the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies to the embryonic Kingdom of Italy. In 2011, the academy took part in the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Italian unification, attended by the President of the Republic, Giorgio Napolitano.

Garibaldi famously referred to Bergamo as La Città dei Mille, because of the major role it played in the Expedition of the Thousand. 

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Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Goggia 'fairy tale' almost realised at Winter Olympics

Sofia Goggia became an Olympic champion in 2018
Sofia Goggia became an
Olympic champion in 2018
The Bergamo skier Sofia Goggia narrowly failed in her bid to defend her downhill title at the Winter Olympics in Beijing on Tuesday - but was delighted with her performance nonetheless after fearing she would not be able to take part in the Games in China.

Goggia, who became an Olympic champion for the first time when she took the women's downhill gold at the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, suffered damaged anterior cruciate ligaments in her left knee and fractured her fibula in a World Cup race at Cortina d'Ampezzo in Italy last month.

"I'm a little sorry about (not winning) the gold medal, but I could not do more than this,” she told reporters after taking the silver medal, her time just 16 hundredths of a second behind Switzerland's Corinne Suter.

"I'm really happy with the way I skied,” she added. “It's a fairy tale that I managed to make real because, after the injury at Cortina, it seemed like a dream that had gone up in smoke.

"I thank the doctors who told me that, if I really believed, I could do it and took the responsibility of letting me race.”

Michela Moiola receives an honour from Italy president Sergio Mattarella after her 2018 win
Michela Moiola receives an honour from Italy
president Sergio Mattarella after her 2018 win
The 29-year-old Goggia races with an outline of the Bergamo skyline on the back of her helmet, which she dedicated to the 6,000 citizens of Bergamo province who have lost their lives during the Covid-19 pandemic.

They included the grandmother of her friend and Italy teammate, 26-year-old Michela Moioli, who comes from Alzano Lombardo, just outside Bergamo.

Moioli, who was the women’s snowboard cross champion at the Pyeongchang Games, replaced Goggia as Italy’s flag bearer at the opening ceremony in Beijing.

Unfortunately, her title defence also ended in disappointment when she was eliminated at the semi-final stage of the snowboard cross event.

(Portrait photo of Sofia Goggia by Vale93b via Wikipedia Commons)

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Monday, January 31, 2022

The ‘Godmother of Italian fashion’

Bergamo's Mariuccia Mandelli, founder of the Krizia fashion house

The Krizia fashion house was opened by the former primary school teacher
The Krizia fashion house was opened
by the former primary school teacher
Bergamo’s home-grown fashion designer, Mariuccia Mandelli, the founder of the fashion house, Krizia, was born January 31, 1925 in the Città Alta.

Although Mandelli trained to be a primary school teacher on the advice of her mother and pursued a teaching career when she was in her twenties, she had a talent for sewing and had always been interested in fashion. So it took just one lucky break to get her started.

When a friend offered her the use of a flat rent-free for six months, Mandelli went to live in it, bought an old sewing machine and started making clothes. She then launched her label, Krizia, by selling the clothes from her small car, a Fiat 500. She used to drive to shops in Milan with suitcases full of samples in the back and by 1954 had established a ready-to-wear fashion house.

Andy Warhol's painting captured Mandelli's trademark look
Andy Warhol's painting captured
Mandelli's trademark look
In 1964, Mandelli unveiled her first black-and-white collection at the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, the designs for which earned her a Critica della Moda award.

Although she lived in Milan after launching Krizia, Mandelli remained proud of her home town and often talked about it fondly in media interviews, promoting the city’s reputation as an artistic and cultural treasure chest, with its own natural beauty, set among hills, mountains, lakes and rolling countryside. 

Mandelli’s fashion house grew rapidly during the 1960s and 1970s. In 1971, Mandelli launched a style of shorts, which were cut very short and were possibly the first version of hot pants to appear. Krizia knitwear became instantly recognizable, featuring animals such as elephants, lions, tigers, leopards and giraffes in the designs.

During the 1990s, Krizia grew into a multi-million-dollar business and Mandelli’s hairstyle and trademark red lipstick were once captured in a portrait by Andy Warhol.

Mandelli also went on to establish a popular line of men’s wear, one of the first female fashion designers to do this successfully.

When Mariuccia Mandelli died at her home in Milan in December 2015 at the age of 90, she had been running Krizia, for the best part of 60 years, relinquishing control only a year earlier when it was sold to a Chinese corporation. In an obituary, the Guardian newspaper called her the Godmother of Italian fashion.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2021

A Renaissance painter who worked in Bergamo

Talented artist from Brescia acclaimed for sacred paintings and portraits

Bonvicino - known as Il Moretto - was born in Brescia but also worked in Bergamo
Bonvicino - known as Il Moretto - was born
in Brescia but also worked in Bergamo
Alessandro Bonvicino, who died on 22 December, 1554, was an acclaimed Renaissance painter largely associated with the city of Brescia, yet he is known to have worked in Bergamo.

Nicknamed Il Moretto da Brescia - the little moor from Brescia - Bonvicino collaborated with the Venetian artist Lorenzo Lotto in Bergamo and was commissioned by a number of churches and religious organisations in the city and province.

The portrait painter Giovanni Battista Moroni from Albino, in the province of Bergamo, was one of his pupils.

Bonvicino, sometimes known as Buonvicino, was born in Rovato, a town in the province of Brescia, about 40km (25 miles) southeast of Bergamo, in about 1498. It is not known how he acquired his nickname of Il Moretto.

He studied painting under Floriano Ferramola, but is also believed to have trained with Vincenzo Foppa, a painter who was active in Brescia in the early years of the 16th century. 

It is believed he may also have been an apprentice to Titian in Venice and it is known that he modelled his portrait painting on the Venetian style. Bonvicino is believed to have admired Raphael, although there is no evidence he ever travelled to Rome. He specialized in painting altarpieces in oils rather than in fresco.

Il Moretto's Madonna and Child with Saints at the Chiesa di Sant'Andrea
Il Moretto's Madonna and Child Enthroned
with Saints
at the Chiesa di Sant'Andrea
At the height of his career, Bonvicino was considered one of the most acclaimed painters working in Brescia. In 1521 he worked with Girolamo Romanino in the Duomo Vecchio of Brescia, executing a Last Supper, Elijah in the Desert and a Fall of Manna and he later worked with Lorenzo Lotto in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Bergamo.

Elsewhere in Bergamo, the Chiesa di Sant’Alessandro in Colonna in Via Sant'Alessandro in the Città Bassa has a Virgin adoring the Child by Bonvicino, while there is a Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints in the Chiesa di Sant'Andrea in Via Porta Dipinta in the Città Alta. 
Bonvicino's paintings can be found in many other churches in Brescia,  Milan and Verona and in the collections of the National Gallery in London, the Metropolitan Museum in New York and the Hermitage in St Petersburg, as well as galleries in Milan, Venice, Paris, Vienna, Frankfurt, Oxford, Washington and Budapest, and the Accademia Carrara in Bergamo.

Bonvicino’s 1526 Portrait of a Man, which now hangs in the National Gallery, is said to be the earliest Italian full-length portrait. The setting for his subject, who is leaning on a classical column, was later to be emulated by Moroni.

Noted for his piety, Bonvicino prayed and fasted before embarking on any sacred work of art, such as painting the Virgin Mother. He spent most of his life in Brescia and belonged to two of the religious confraternities there. He died, aged about 56, in Brescia.

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Sunday, June 27, 2021

Matteo stars again for the Azzurri

Pessina goal puts Italy in quarter-finals

Atalanta's Matteo Pessina scored Italy's crucial second goal in the 2-1 win over Austria
Atalanta's Matteo Pessina scored Italy's crucial
second goal in the 2-1 win over Austria
Italy learned tonight that they will face Belgium in the quarter-finals of Euro 2020, the major European international football competition delayed by a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Atalanta fans will be adamant that their hero Matteo Pessina must keep his place in Roberto Mancini’s team after the midfielder with the Bergamo squad came off the bench to score what proved to be the winning goal in the Azzurri’s 2-1 victory over Austria in London on Saturday night.

Pessina was one of five substitutes used by Mancini as Italy struggled to get the better of Austria despite starting the round-of-16 match as strong favourites.

The scores were level at 0-0 after 90 minutes, so 30 minutes of extra time was played and the Azzurri proved to have the stamina and quality to prevail.

Another of the substitutes, Fiorentina’s Federico Chiesa, finally gave Italy the lead five minutes into extra time, before Messina coolly stroked home the second goal from close range to double the Azzurri advantage.

It was the 24-year-old player’s second goal of the tournament after scoring the only goal of Italy’s final group game, a victory over Wales.

Joakim Maehle scored for  Denmark against Wales
Joakim Maehle scored for 
Denmark against Wales
And it proved to be vital too as Austria’s Sasa Kalajdzic pulled one back for the underdogs in the match at Wembley Stadium before Italy held on to their advantage.

Kaladzic’s goal was the first to be conceded by Mancini’s team in 12 matches. They are now unbeaten in 31 matches, the longest such run in the history of the national team.

Italy meet Belgium on Friday at the Allianz Arena, the home of German club Bayern Munich, with a kick-off at 8pm UK time, 9pm in Italy.

Belgium beat defending champions Portugal 1-0 in Seville on Sunday to progress to the last eight and the clash with Italy will be one of the most eagerly-anticipated matches so far at Euro 2020.

One of Pessina’s Atalanta team-mates, wing-back Joakim Maehle, was among the goalscorers as Denmark beat Wales 4-0 on Saturday to book their place in the quarter-finals.

The Danes will take on the Czech Republic, surprise winners against the Netherlands, next Saturday evening.

Monza-born Pessina is the first Atalanta player to start a match for the Azzurri in the final tournament of any of the European championships in which they have played, and the first representative of the Bergamo team to score for Italy in any major tournament.

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Monday, June 21, 2021

Atalanta star is Italy’s hero

Pessina goal sees the Azzurri top Euros group

Matteo Pessina has become a star of Bergamo's Atalanta team
Matteo Pessina has become a star
of Bergamo's Atalanta team
Atalanta’s Matteo Pessina was Italy’s hero as the national team beat Wales in Rome yesterday to progress to the knock-out stage of the delayed Euro 2020 competition as winners of their group.

The 24-year-old midfielder scored the only goal of the match in the 39th minute, maintaining the Azzurri’s 100 per cent success record in Group A, in which they earlier beat Turkey and Switzerland. They have yet to concede a goal in the competition.

The Monza-born player, who was added to Roberto Mancini’s squad only as a late replacement for the injured Stefano Sensi, became the youngest Italy player to score on his debut in a major tournament and made history in two other ways.

He is the first Atalanta player to start a match for the Azzurri in the final tournament of any of the European championships in which they have played and the first representative of the Bergamo team to score for Italy in any major tournament.

In fact, it is 19 years since La Dea had a player selected to represent Italy in a major tournament, the last one being the attacking midfielder Cristiano Doni, who went to the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea as part of Giovanni Trapattoni’s squad and started two matches.

Pessina and defender Rafael Tolói, who was also a starter against Wales, are only the sixth and seventh Atalanta players to be named in Italy squads for major tournaments in its history and only the third and fourth to actually wear the Azzurri shirt in action.

Both played key roles in helping La Dea finish third in Serie A in the season just ended. Pessina, who joined Atalanta from AC Milan in 2017 and spent two of his first two seasons with the nerazzurri out on loan, first with La Spezia and then Hellas Verona, was a regular in Gian Piero Gasperini’s team in 2020-21, scoring four goals. 

The German wing back Robin Gosens has become one of Atalanta's top players
The German wing back Robin Gosens has
become one of Atalanta's top players
Gasperini's team has a number of its stars play a prominent roles in the current Euros. Robin Gosens, the German-born wing back who has been with the Bergamo team since 2017 and has been one of Atalanta's best players over the last two seasons, scored for Germany in their 4-2 win over Portugal on Saturday, while striker Aleksey Miranchuk scored Russia's only goal in their win over Finland last week.

Other members of Gasperini's multi-national squad to see action in the Euros so far are Joakim Maehle (Denmark), Remo Freuler (Switzerland), Marten de Roon (Netherlands), Ruslan Malinovsky (Ukraine) and Mario Pasalic (Croatia).

After playing for his country at Under-20 and Under-21 level, Pessina made his debut for Italy’s senior team on November 11, 2020, featuring as a substitute in a 4–0 friendly win against Estonia in Florence. He scored his first goals for the Azzurri in a home friendly against San Marino in May, 2021, netting twice in a 7-0 victory.

As winners of Group A, Italy will play the runners-up in Group C in the round of 16 on Saturday, which looks likely to be either Ukraine or Austria, who were scheduled to meet each other in Bucharest this afternoon.

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