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.


How Bergamo got its name

Città Alta is known as Berghèm de Sura in dialect
A tribe from Liguria made its home in part of the present day Città Alta (upper town) as early as 1200 years before Christ, and named the settlement Barra.
By 600 BC the city was occupied by Etruscans, but in 550 BC it was invaded by the Gauls.
They changed the name of the city to Berghèm, which according to the Celtic language derived from Berg (mountain) and from Hem (house or dwelling). Today Bergamo is still called Berghèm by local people speaking in dialect. You may hear the Città Alta called ‘Berghèm de sura’ and the Città Bassa ‘Berghèm de sota’ by people speaking the Bergamask dialect.
Over the years the Gauls continued to invade and eventually destroyed the city, which was subsequently rebuilt by the Romans.
In 196 BC the Romans had a definitive victory over the Gauls and Berghèm was changed to the Latin name of Bergomum. The town was built along two axes, which met where the Torre di Gombito stands today. The east-west main road followed the route of the present day Via Gombito and Via Colleoni, while the north-south main road were where Via Mario Lupo and Via San Lorenzo are today.
It is thought that the Forum would have been on the site of the present day Duomo, the Arena was where the Seminary now stands to the north of the Città Alta and the Capitol was on the hill of la Rocca.

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