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, March 16, 2020

A message from the Editor of Best of Bergamo

‘It is with great sadness that I’ve watched events unfold in Bergamo over the last few weeks and seen the coronavirus (Covid-19) cause devastation to the city I love so much.
The towers of the upper town seen from San Vigilio

My heart goes out to all the people who have lost loved ones and to those who have become ill with the virus.

I can only express my admiration for the tireless work of the emergency services and, in particular, the doctors and nurses in Bergamo, who are on the front line every day but remain unflinching in their dedication to their patients.

I am also sorry for the people who have had to close their businesses and whose livelihoods are suffering, many of whom have become my friends during the last ten years.

The empty streets and the beautiful buildings having to remain closed, which usually give so much pleasure to tourists when they visit, have been poignant sights.

But I have been heartened by the messages I have received from friends in Bergamo that have demonstrated the resilience of the Bergamaschi and shown their strong resolve to fight the virus together: ‘fermiamolo insieme!

Today marks the tenth anniversary of Best of Bergamo and during that time I have written many words highlighting the beauty of this elegant northern city with its fascinating mix of modern and medieval architecture.

My first post written on Tuesday 16 March 2010 about Il Sole restaurant in Piazza Vecchia was just the beginning of my long love affair with Bergamo.

I look forward to visiting Bergamo with my family in happier times and making that magical journey up to the Città Alta once again to revisit all our favourite places.

Viva Bergamo! e Viva l’Italia! Our thoughts are with you’.

From Val Culley, Editor of Best of Bergamo

Home                       Main Sights                          Bergamo Hotels 

Friday, February 21, 2020

Palazzo della Ragione Bergamo

Medieval palace was once used as a courthouse

The facade of the 12th century Palazzo della Ragione is an iconic image of Bergamo’s upper town, the Città Alta. 

But the most photographed and admired building in Piazza Vecchia hides many fascinating secrets.

If you step under the archways into what was once the ground floor of the building, you are entering what used to be Bergamo’s courthouse.
The white seat was where the prisoner would have to sit

During the period of Venetian domination the judges used to preside over legal proceedings there and would take a decision based on their ‘reason’, in Italian ‘ragione’. This is how the medieval palace acquired its name.

You will see a row of stone seats along one of the palace’s walls but only one of the seats is white. This is the so called ‘Seat of Shame’ where the prisoner accused of the crime would have had to sit during the legal arguments.

Take a seat there yourself and imagine what it would have been like to be someone accused of a crime in the 16th century when the Venetians first took control of Bergamo. The defendant would have been very glad to be able to stand up and walk into Piazza Duomo and continue sightseeing, as today’s visitors can!

The palace has been damaged by fires over the centuries and has had to be rebuilt many times.  It is said that the ground floor walls were removed to allow a view through the arches into Piazza Duomo. This enables visitors to see the stunning pink and white facade of the Colleoni Chapel, which is in stark contrast to the dark stone of Palazzo della Ragione. 

The facade of the medieval Palazzo della Ragione
The grand covered stairway, which dates from 1453, rises from Piazza Vecchia to the first floor of the palace. There are 13th and 14th century frescoes, which were taken from old churches and houses in the area, decorating the upper hall.

The palace was mentioned in a document of 1198 and is therefore believed to be the oldest communal building in Italy.  It was once used for meetings of Bergamo’s civic authority, but it has also been a theatre and a library and occasionally acted as an art gallery.

The carving of the lion over the central window of the palace was added to the exterior of the building to mark the domination of the Venetians over Bergamo. The current lion is actually a 20th century replica of the 15th century original, which was torn down when the French took control of Bergamo in 1797.

Home                       Main Sights                          Bergamo Hotels 

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Sparkling Atalanta thrash AC Milan 5-0

Gian Piero Gasparini's team in top form

Argentinian striker Alejandro 'Papu' Gomez opened the scoring in Atalanta's historic win
Argentinian striker Alejandro 'Papu' Gomez opened
the scoring in Atalanta's historic win
Bergamo’s top football team, the Serie A club Atalanta Bergamasca Calcio - generally known as simply Atalanta - capped off a memorable year by thrashing the mighty AC Milan 5-0 at their home ground, the Gewiss Stadium, on Sunday.

It was the biggest defeat Milan had suffered for 21 years. Atalanta’s goals came from Alejandro Gomez, Mario Pasalic, Josip Ilicic (two) and Luis Muriel.

Milan are struggling to mount a challenge at the moment, yet with 18 Serie A titles and seven European Cup/Champions League titles to their name remain one of the giants of Italian football.

They had not been beaten by such a margin in any competition since Roma beat them 5-0 in 1998.

Atalanta, by contrast, are enjoying one of the most successful periods in their 112-year history.

They are six-times winners of Serie B but only in recent seasons have begun to challenge the top teams in Serie A.  Under head coach Gian Piero Gasparini, the nerazzurri finished fourth in Serie A in 2016-17 and took third place last season, qualifying to play in the Champions League for the first time.

The success has continued this season with Atalanta through to the knock-out stages in the Champions League after finishing runners-up to Manchester City in Group C.

In Serie A, they are up to fifth place with Sunday’s win, which again puts them in contention for one of the European competitions next season.

Atalanta play their home games at the Gewiss Stadium, the current name of the Atleti Azzurri d'Italia stadium in the Borgo Santa Caterina district of Bergamo, only a short walk from the centre of the city.

Home                       Main Sights                          Bergamo Hotels 

Friday, September 20, 2019

Porch of Santa Maria Maggiore Bergamo

Statue of Sant’Alessandro stands above Basilica entrance 

One of the most important and beautiful churches in Bergamo, the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Piazza Duomo in the Città Alta, has so many fascinating architectural details that it is impossible to take them all in on your first visit.

The Basilica was built in the 12th century in the shape of a Greek cross but was modified in the 14th and 16th centuries.

The loggia above the entrance to the Basilica
The Basilica’s sacristry was demolished in the 15th century to make way for the Colleoni Chapel, which was built on the orders of Bergamo’s famous condottiero, Bartolomeo Colleoni, to house his own tomb.

The Colleoni Chapel, which stands next to Santa Maria Maggiore in Piazza Duomo, was designed by Giovanni Antonio Amadeo to harmonise with the architecture of the Basilica and it has come to be acknowledged as one of the finest Renaissance buildings in Italy.

But the porch to the left of the Colleoni Chapel, one of two entrances to the Basilica, is just as architecturally beautiful and can certainly hold its own with the Colleoni Chapel.

The entrance to Santa Maria Maggiore from Piazza Duomo was built by the architect Giovanni di Campione between 1351 and 1353. Above the archway there is a loggia with three arched niches containing statues. The Saints Barnaba and Proitettizio stand on either side of a statue of Bergamo’s patron saint, Sant’Alessandro, who is on horseback. You have to look up before you ascend the steps to the Basilica or you will miss it.

Every year on 26 August Bergamo commemorates the date in 303 that Sant’Alessandro was martyred by the Romans for refusing to renounce his Christian faith.
The porch is next to the Renaissance gem,
 the Colleoni Chapel

It is believed Alessandro was a devout citizen who had continued to preach Christianity in Bergamo, despite several narrow escapes from the Romans, but that he was eventually caught and suffered decapitation.

A series of religious, cultural and gastronomic events take place in his name over several days at the end of August throughout the city, which is decorated with festive lights.

Porta Sant’Alessandro, the gate which leads from the Città Alta to Borgo Canale and San Vigilio, was built in the 16th century as part of a massive project to protect the historic upper town with defensive walls. 

It was named after a fourth century cathedral that had originally been dedicated to the saint, but was later demolished by the occupying Venetian forces who were overseeing the rebuilding of the walls.

Home                       Main Sights                          Bergamo Hotels 

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Accademia Carrara Bergamo

See highlights of collection inside this magnificent palace

English-speaking visitors and students are being offered a unique opportunity to explore Bergamo’s prestigious Accademia Carrara, accompanied by an expert guide speaking in their own language.

Saturday Morning Visits at the premiere art galley in Bergamo will reveal the highlights in the collection from now until October this year (2019).

Tours start from the ticket office in the lobby of the gallery at 11 am each Saturday. The cost is six euros in addition to the normal ticket price and booking is not necessary.
Accademia Carrara is housed in 18th century palace

This is an opportunity to find out more about Pisanello. Mantegna, Bellini, Botticelli, Raffaele, Lotto and Moroni, to name just a few of the great artists whose works are in the Carrara’s collection.

The English-speaking guides promise to show visitors the art treasures ‘at the heart of the museum’s collection’ during a 90-minute taster tour. 

One of the biggest jewels in Bergamo’s crown, the prestigious art gallery Accademia Carrara is housed in a magnificent palace just outside the Città Alta, built in the 18th century to house one of the richest private collections of art in Italy.

It is the only Italian museum to be entirely stocked with donations and bequests from private collectors. Visitors can now view a broad-ranging collection of works by the masters of the Venetian, Lombard and Tuscan renaissances as well as great artists who came later.

The Accademia Carrara was established in 1794 as a combined Pinacoteca and School of Painting on the initiative of Bergamo aristocrat Count Giacomo Carrara. In addition to his collection of paintings he left his entire estate to the Accademia to secure its future.

The number and quality of the works in the Accademia has increased over the years thanks to the many donations and bequests from private collectors.

From being a museum dedicated to Renaissance painting, the Accademia has grown into an art gallery that also provides a broad representation of pictorial genres from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

Accademia Carrara is in Piazza Giacomo Carrara, a short walk from Porta Sant’Agostino. For more information visit www.lacarrara.it.

Home                       Main Sights                          Bergamo Hotels 

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.


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

Home                       Main Sights                          Bergamo Hotels