A MAGICAL PLACE

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.

20240523

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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20240510

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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20240428

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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20240202

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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20230828

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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20230520

Remembering artist Giovanni Paolo Cavagna

Prolific painter left a rich legacy of religious works in Bergamo

Frescoes by Giovanni Paolo Cavagna  illuminate the dome of Santa Maria Maggiore
Frescoes by Giovanni Paolo Cavagna 
illuminate the dome of Santa Maria Maggiore
Late Renaissance painter Giovanni Paolo Cavagna, who became famous for his religious works of art, died 396 years ago today in his native city of Bergamo.

Cavagna was mainly active in Bergamo and Brescia, for most of his career, although he is believed to have spent some time training in Venice in the studio of Titian.

The artist was born in Borgo San Leonardo in the Città Bassa in about 1550. The painter Cristoforo Baschenis Il Vecchio is believed to have taken him as an apprentice from the age of 12. Cavagna is also thought to have spent time as a pupil of the famous Bergamo portrait painter Giovanni Battista Moroni.

Cavagna’s work can still be seen in many churches in Bergamo and villages in the surrounding area. In the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in the Città Alta there are paintings by him of the Assumption of the Virgin, the Nativity, and Esther and Ahasuerus.

The Church of Santa Spirito in the  Città Bassa has works by Cavagna
The Church of Santa Spirito in the
 Città Bassa has works by Cavagna
In the Church of Santa Spirito in the Città Bassa, there are his paintings of Santa Lucia and the Crucifixion with Saints. He painted a Coronation of the Virgin for the Church of San Giovanni Battista in the province of Casnigo, which is to the north east of Bergamo, and some of his paintings can also be seen in the sanctuary of the Madonna del Castello in Almenno San Salvatore, a province to the north west of Bergamo.

The artist also completed a painting of the Crucifixion for the Church of Santa Lucia in Venice.

Cavagna’s son, Francesco, who became known as Cavagnuola, and his daughter, Caterina, also became painters.

After his death in Bergamo in 1627, Cavagna was buried in the Church of Santa Maria Immacolata delle Grazie in the Città Bassa, but after the reorganization of the lower town in the 19th century, the church was rebuilt and Cavagna’s tomb had to be moved, and it is now uncertain what happened to it.

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20230309

Andrew Viterbi – the ‘father of the mobile telephone’

Andrew Viterbi became a major
figure in digital communications
Bergamo residents can be proud that the brilliant engineer Andrew Viterbi, who invented the technology for cellular phones and changed the way people communicate worldwide, was born in their city.

The Viterbi algorithm, a mathematical formula for eliminating signal interference that the electrical engineer devised in 1967, is still widely used in the manufacture of cellular phones.

Andrew Viterbi was born on 9 March, 1935 in Bergamo as Andrea Giacomo Viterbi,  but he had to leave Italy while still a young child when his family emigrated to the United States just before the start of World War II. 

Viterbi grew up in the US to work as an electrical engineer and study for a PhD in digital communications. He was awarded academic positions at the University of California, where he invented his ground breaking algorithm.

Viterbi then went on to co-found the American multinational corporation Qualcomm, which became one of the most important communications companies in the world.

His father, Achille, had been director of Bergamo Hospital’s ophthalmology department in the 1930s and his mother, Maria Luria, who came from a prominent family in Piedmont, had a teaching degree.

But after Mussolini introduced his new racial laws in Italy before the start of World War II, the couple, who were Jewish, were deprived of their positions and unable to make a living to support their family, giving them little option but to leave.

Even in his 80s, Viterbi has remained an  active member of the scientific community
Even in his 80s, Viterbi has remained an 
active member of the scientific community
They had planned to sail to America on 1 September, 1939, but after receiving a tip-off alerting them to possible danger, they secretly escaped two weeks early and were able to land safely in New York, where a member of their extended family already lived.  They then moved to Boston, where Andrea’s name was anglicised as Andrew after he became naturalised as an American.

Andrew Viterbi attended the Boston Latin School and entered the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1952 to study electrical engineering. After qualifying, he worked at Raytheon and then the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Pasadena, where he worked on telemetry for unmanned space missions and helped to develop the ‘phase-locked loop.’ At the same time, he was studying for his PhD in digital communications at the University of Southern California and graduated from there in 1963.

In 1967, while in an academic role at the University of California, he proposed his Viterbi algorithm to decode convolutionally encoded data - a groundbreaking mathematical formula for eliminating signal interference. This allowed for effective cellular communication, digital satellite broadcast receivers, and deep space telemetry.

The Viterbi algorithm is still used widely in cellular phones for error correcting codes as well as for speech recognition, DNA analysis and other applications. Viterbi also helped to develop the Code Division Multiple Access standard for cell phone networks.

There is a dedicated space for art and culture events named after Viterbi at the Palazzo della Provincia
There is a dedicated space for art and culture events
named after Viterbi at the Palazzo della Provincia 
With Irwin Jacobs, Viterbi was the co-founder of Linkabit Corporation in 1968, and Qualcomm Inc in 1985. He became president of the venture capital company, The Viterbi Group in 2003, which helps new technology businesses start up.

Viterbi has received many awards for his invention of the Viterbi algorithm and a computer centre and an engineering school have been named after him. His algorithm paved the way for the widespread use of cellular technology, which changed the way people communicate worldwide.

Recognised in Italy as ‘il padre del telefonino’ - the father of the mobile telephone - he has been awarded an honorary degree in electrical engineering from the University of Bergamo.

In 2007, Viterbi was honoured by the Bergamo Province, when they named a dedicated space in the Palazzo della Provincia after the engineer. The palazzo, which is in Via Tasso in the Città Bassa, had converted an area to be used for art and culture events, which they called Spazio Viterbi.

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