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.


Bergamo birthplace of popular Pope John

Bergamo Bassa's tree-lined main thoroughfare is named
after Pope John XXIII

The much loved Pope John XXIII was born 129 years ago today at Sotto il Monte to the west of Bergamo.
He was tutored by a local priest before entering the seminary at Bergamo at the age of 12. He went on to study theology in Rome and rose to become Cardinal Patriarch of Venice before being elected Pope in 1958.
Born Angelo Roncalli on 25 November 1881, he was the third of 13 children in a farming family.
His religious studies were interrupted by a spell in the Italian army but he was ordained in 1904.
He served as secretary to the Bishop of Bergamo for nine years before becoming an army chaplain in World War One.
After the war he worked in Bulgaria, Turkey and Greece on behalf of the church helping to locate prisoners of war.
In 1944 he was appointed nuncio (envoy) to Paris to help with the post war effort in France. He became a Cardinal in 1953 and expected to spend his last years serving the church in Venice .
When he was elected Pope by his fellow cardinals in the conclave of 20 October 1958 it was a turning point in the church’s history.
Pope John XXIII
Although he was Pope for less than five years, he enlarged the College of Cardinals to make it more representative, consecrated 14 new bishops for Asia and Africa, advanced ecumenical relations and worked for world peace.
Since his death on 3 June 1963 his home and the museum set up to commemorate his life in Sotto il Monte have become popular destinations for pilgrims.
There is a permanent reminder of him in Bergamo’s Città Bassa (lower town) where the main thoroughfare from the railway station to Porta Nuova has been named Viale Papa Giovanni XXIII. 


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