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.

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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Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Atalanta duo make history

Tolói and Pessina in Roberto Mancini's squad for Euros


Atalanta players Rafael Tolói and Matteo Pessina have made history with their selection for the Italy squad for the delayed 2020 European football championships, which opens on Friday with the Azzurri facing Turkey at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

Defender Tolói and midfielder Pessina are the first players from the Bergamo team to be named as part of the Italy squad in any of the 10 European championships in which the national team has participated since the tournament was launched in 1968.

Brazilian-born Rafael Tolói qualified
to play for Italy earlier this year
Their selection is a reflection of Atalanta’s improved standing within the Italian game, in which they have become a prominent club under the coaching of Gian Piero Gasperini.

With Gasperini in charge, they have finished third in Serie A for three seasons in a row as well as reaching the Coppa Italia final twice.

Tolói, who can play as a centre back or a full back and is La Dea’s club captain, was born in Brazil and represented his country of birth at Under-20 level.

But he has played in Italy since 2014 and qualified for an Italian passport earlier this year after more than five years of residency, after which Azzurri manager Roberto Mancini called him up in March, giving him his debut aged 30 in the World Cup qualifying match against Lithuania on March 31.

He made a total of 42 appearances for Atalanta in the season just ended, scoring two goals.

La Dea signed him from Sao Paulo of Brazil in 2015 for €3.5 million in 2015 after he spent half of the previous season on loan with Roma.

Midfielder Pessina, aged 24 and born just 40km (25 miles) from Bergamo in Monza, north of Milan, 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.

Matteo Pessina replaces the injured Stefano Sensi
Matteo Pessina replaces the
injured Stefano Sensi 
He became a regular for La Dea in the season just ended, making 39 appearances.

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. 

Named in Mancini’s preliminary squad for Euro 2020, he was initially left out of the final 26-man selection but reinstated after an injury to Inter Milan’s Stefano Sensi.

The tournament, postponed last summer because of Covid-19, is being played in 11 different countries in a major change from the usual format, which traditionally has seen all the games staged in one or sometimes two host nations.

Drawn with Switzerland and Wales as well as Turkey, Italy will play all their group matches in Rome, which will also host one of the quarter-finals.

Both semi-finals and the July 11 final are being staged at Wembley Stadium in London.

Bookmakers in England think that France and England are the favourites to win the competition, with Italy tipped to reach the quarter-finals, perhaps the semi-finals.



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Thursday, May 20, 2021

More heartbreak for Atalanta

Bergamo's team runners-up again in Coppa Italia


Ruslan Malinovskyi scored the Atalanta goal in a 2-1 defeat
Ruslan Malinovskyi scored the
Atalanta goal in a 2-1 defeat
Atalanta will have to wait a little longer for their revival to bring them a trophy after a second appearance in three years in the Coppa Italia final ended in defeat.

La Dea were beaten 2-1 by Juventus in Wednesday’s final at the Mapei Stadium in Reggio-Emilia, which is the shared home of the Sassuolo and Reggiana clubs.

Gian Piero Gasperini’s team were hoping to win the Bergamo club’s first trophy since 1963, having lost the final to Lazio two years ago.

They were watched by 4,300 spectators, the most allowed to attend a match since the Covid lockdown began in March 2020.

Juventus went ahead through Dejan Kulusevski in the 31st minute but Atalanta equalised before half-time thanks to a powerful shot by Ruslan Malinovskyi, their Ukrainian midfielder.

However, the bianconeri stepped up their intensity in the second half and ran out deserved winners after Federico Chiesa scored their second goal 17 minutes from the end.

It was a 14th Coppa Italia victory for Juventus and a first success for head coach Andrea Pirlo, one of Italy’s finest players of recent years, who is in his first season as a coach.

Gasperini insisted that, despite the disappointment, his team could leave the stadium with heads held high and will now focus on clinching second place in Serie A - the highest finish in the club’s history - by beating AC Milan at the Gewiss Stadium in Bergamo on Sunday.


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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Atalanta close in on second place in Serie A table

Atalanta's fortunes have been transformed under Gasperini
Atalanta's fortunes have been
transformed under Gasperini
Bergamo’s high-flying football team, Atalanta, need to pick up just one more win from their last two Serie A matches to qualify for the Champions League for the third consecutive season.

Atalanta - whose nicknames include i Nerazzurri (the black and blues) and La Dea (the Goddess) - consolidated their hold on second place in the table with a 2-0 win over struggling Benevento at the Gewiss Stadium on Wednesday.

Their goals came from top scorer Luis Muriel and Mario Pasalic.

Their final two matches are away to Genoa on Saturday before they take on AC Milan in the final game of the season, again at the Gewiss Stadium in the Città Bassa.  The title is already won by Inter-Milan.

In the middle, they have the small matter of the Coppa Italia final against Juventus to think about after another exceptional season. Were they to finish second, it would be the highest final place in the club's history.

Playing an exciting style of attacking football, Atalanta have been the surprise package of the last few seasons in Italian football.

Since the 1970s, Atalanta have been promoted from Serie B nine times and relegated from Serie A nine times.  They rarely finished in the top half of the Serie A table but since the appointment of former Genoa coach Gian Piero Gasperini to look after the team in 2016 La Dea have enjoyed consistent improvement.

Atalanta's top striker, the Colombian Luis Muriel
Atalanta's top striker, the
Colombian Luis Muriel
They have finished in the top four of Serie A in three of the last four seasons, qualifying for the Champions League for the last two years by finishing in third place.

They qualified for the knock-out phase of the European competition each time, reaching the quarter-finals two years ago.

They also reached the final of the Coppa Italia for the first time in 23 years in 2019, losing to Lazio.

Yet it remains the case that the 1962-63 Coppa Italia, when the defeated Torino in the final, is the only major trophy in the club’s 114-year history.

It something Gasperini had in mind after the win over Benevento when he told reporters his team “have done nothing yet”, warning that they should take nothing for granted. 

“We are responsible for our own destiny. We must keep our feet grounded because we’ve done nothing yet," he said.

Atalanta is named after  a Greek goddess
Atalanta is named after 
a Greek goddess
“We have two league games and the Coppa Italia final. We have played many matches, but the strength of this team is to take one step at a time.

“We are fighting, we are in the race with Milan, Napoli and Juventus for a top-four finish in Serie A, and only one won’t reach the target. Anything can still happen.”

Like most teams at the top level in Italy, the Atalanta team is a multi-national group. 

Their defence regularly includes two Argentinians, a German and an Albanian.

The midfield stars are a Swiss, a Dutchman and a Ukrainian, while their two best strikers, Muriel and Duván Zapata, are both Colombian internationals.

The home-grown players who have featured most often this season are goalkeepers Pierluigi Gollini and Marco Sportiello, defender Rafael Tolói - Brazilian-born but an Italian national - and midfielder Matteo Pessina.

Atalanta play their home matches at the expanded Gewiss Stadium in the Città Bassa
Atalanta play their home matches at the
expanded Gewiss Stadium in the Città Bassa
Atalanta’s brand of free-flowing attack-minded football has thrilled audiences and made them Italy’s highest goalscorers for each of the last three seasons. Last year, they totalled 98 in Serie A, the highest tally by any team for more than 70 years.

This season they have found the net 86 times in Serie A, of which Muriel has 22, level with Inter-Milan’s Romelu Lukaku and behind only Cristiano Ronaldo of Juventus (28) among the leading individual goalscorers.

Atalanta’s nickname of La Dea stems from the club’s creation in 1907 by students of the Liceo Classico Paolo Sarpi, the important high school in Bergamo, who named the club after the female athlete of the same name in Greek mythology, who had the status of goddess in her own region.

The club’s badge contains the profile of a woman with flowing hair, representing the mythological Atalanta.


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Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Bergamo curiosities, clocks and curfews

Look out for some of the quaint architectural features of the Città Alta

A set of stone gargoyles on the wall above Palazzo della Ragione's covered staircase
A set of stone gargoyles on the wall above
Palazzo della Ragione's covered staircase

Bergamo’s upper town, the Città Alta, is full of medieval buildings, towers and houses and many of them have unusual, quaint architectural features, so it’s worth taking your time when you are walking round to see what you can spot.

The faded frescoes you will see are indications that the outsides of buildings would have been much more colourful hundreds of years ago than they are today. But it is worth looking at the frescoes to try to see what the artist painted. If there is a portion missing, let your imagination fill it in so that you can understand what it would have been like in its heyday. Good places for fresco spotting are Piazza Mascheroni, Piazza Cittadella and Via Porta Dipinta.

There are grotesque stone carvings on many of the medieval buildings in the Città Alta that would have meant something to the stone mason responsible for adding them hundreds of years ago.

The bells in the Campanone still chime 100 times at 10pm each night
The bells in the Campanone still
chime at 10pm each night

Of particular interest are the set of stone gargoyles on the wall to your right as you start to climb the 16th century covered staircase that leads to the first floor of Palazzo della Ragione, known as the Hall of the Capriate. These were taken centuries ago from a funeral monument in the former convent of San Francesco.

The paved area at ground floor level can be accessed from both sides through the porticos. It is usually empty these days but in the past has been used as an open civil and criminal court, where the prisoner had to sit on a white stone seat, and also as a place for people to watch puppet shows. These were popular with adults as well as children because they enjoyed the clever lampooning of local dignitaries and political situations of the day by the puppeteers.

Inside the porticos under Palazzo della Ragione, if you look at the paving, you will see white marble slabs among the grey with engraved ellipses. This is a sundial, or solar clock, designed by Giovanni Albrici in 1798, which points north and indicates the passage of the sun through the meridian, at 12 noon.

The Meridiana Monumentale sundial is a particular curiosity
The Meridiana Monumentale sundial
is a particular curiosity
Like most things in Bergamo it has been well preserved. In 1982 restoration work was carried out on it and the mechanism was modified to enable the date to be shown as well.

When the sun shines, as it often does in Bergamo, it passes through a small hole in a metal plate attached to one of the arches and as it shines into the porticoes you can see what time it is.

The enormous Campanone (big bell tower) on the other side of the piazza also helps visitors to Bergamo to tell the time. It comes into its own at 10pm every evening when it chimes more than 100 times to remind people still outside the Città Alta of the curfew and give them chance to get back through one of the gates, or otherwise be locked out for the night.

They don’t lock the gates of the Città Alta any more, but have maintained the tradition of sounding more than 100 chimes at 10pm.



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Sunday, February 28, 2021

Trattoria Tre Torri Bergamo

Enjoy dining out in a truly medieval atmosphere

Trattoria Tre Torri is housed inside a medieval tower
Trattoria Tre Torri is housed inside
a medieval tower
Have you ever wondered what it must have been like to live in a medieval tower in Bergamo’s Città Alta?

Well, you can easily sample the medieval atmosphere for just a couple of hours by having lunch or dinner at Trattoria Tre Torri in Piazza Mercato del Fieno in the Città Alta. The square is just off Via Gombito to the right, almost opposite the enormous Torre Gombito. It was once the site of the Città Alta’s hay market and the piazza is still bordered by three medieval tower houses, which have been cut down from their former heights but are still the original structures.

One of the houses, which used to be owned by Bergamo’s rich and powerful Suardi family, has a pretty little balcony under a double arched mullioned window.

Another tower on the square, opposite the three adjoining towers, houses the Trattoria Tre Torri, which serves good quality local food at reasonable prices. There are some tables for two but you can also sit at large wooden tables with benches if you are a larger party.

The original stone has been left exposed on the inside walls. One night when I went there for dinner with my family it was raining heavily outside and we were amused to notice the rain running down the walls inside, but we still felt very warm and cosy and enjoyed the meal.

The three adjoining towers on the square were once much taller
The three adjoining towers on the square
were once much taller
The staff are very friendly and the menu has many traditional Bergamo dishes to try, such as casoncelli alla bergamasca - a kind of ravioli - stinco al forno - pork shank - and dishes with the local type of polenta. They stock local Bergamo wines and also serve a good house wine.

There is all the atmosphere you would expect to experience when dining in a genuine medieval tower and there are also tables outside under an awning for dining during the summer. 

Piazza Mercato del Fieno is where the Città Alta’s post office is located and it also has some shops and bars. It is a good place to stand to take a photograph of the Gombito tower, which looms high above Via Gombito. The square is on higher ground and is sufficiently far away to enable you to capture a shot that includes the top of the tower.

Trattoria Tre Torri is located at Piazzo Mercato del Fieno 7.


The original medieval brickwork is a feature of Trattoria Tre Torri's cosy interior
The original medieval brickwork is a feature of Trattoria Tre Torri's cosy interior


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