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.


Celebrations in the Sentierone for Santa Lucia festival

The Church of San Spasimo can be found on
Via XX Settembre in Bergamo's shopping centre
A lovely tradition for children in Bergamo is to visit the Church of San Spasimo in the Città Bassa (lower town) in early December with letters asking for what presents they would like to receive.
The Church of San Spasimo is, appropriately, in Via XX Settembre at the hub of the shopping area.
It is also known locally as the church of Santa Lucia as, on 13 December, the saint’s feast day, it has become traditional for the children to lay their letters at the foot of the saint’s altar with their Christmas wish lists.
According to tradition, Santa Lucia comes down from the sky with a cart and a donkey and distributes the gifts to all the children who have been good, while all the naughty children receive only a piece of coal.
Adding to the festive atmosphere in Bergamo are the bancarelle (stalls) along Via Sentierone to celebrate la festa di Santa Lucia. Along with the stalls selling gifts and sweets there are also presepi (stable scenes) and Christmas music to entertain the crowds.
Santa Lucia - or Saint Lucy - whose name means 'light' in Italian, was a Sicilian saint who died in medieval times.
She saw an angel while praying about her mother’s terminal illness and subsequently devoted her life to promoting Christianity and distributed her inheritance among the poor.
Christmas really starts to take off in Italy with the feasting and celebrations dedicated to this popular saint on 13 December.

Buona Festa!

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Sample Italy's new wine in Bergamo

Delicious Vino Novello
Light, fruity Vino Novello 2012 is now on sale in the shops and being served in bars and restaurants in Bergamo.
If you are planning to visit the city during November, make sure you take advantage of the opportunity to taste some of Italy's new wine, which would be a bargain buy to take home with you because it is relatively inexpensive.
Vino Novello is similar in taste, body and colour to the French Beaujolais Nouveau, which is traditionally exported to other countries after its release. Like Beaujolais Nouveau, Italy's new wine should be drunk quickly after the bottle is opened and unopened bottles should be kept for a few months only.
Although the major area for production tends to be the Veneto, some of Bergamo's local wine producers, who are famous for making Valcalepio, also release their Vino Novello after 6 November each year.
Look out for events and festivals being held in the villages and towns around Bergamo to celebrate the launch of the new wine. Salute!  

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Birthday of artist honoured by Bergamo airport

The brilliant but controversial artist Caravaggio was born in Milan 441 years ago today.
His real name was Michelangelo Merisi but he became known as Caravaggio because he spent the early years of his life living in the small town of Caravaggio just south of Bergamo .
It is believed his family moved there because of an outbreak of plague in Milan after his birth in 1571.
He later returned to Milan to train as a painter and then went on to work in Rome, Naples, Malta and Sicily until his death at Porto Ercole in Tuscany in 1610.
Caravaggio became famous for his paintings for churches and palaces that combined a realistic observation of the physical and emotional state of human beings with a dramatic use of lighting. This was a formative influence for the baroque school of painting.
Despite his artistic success he had a turbulent personal life. He was thrown into jail on several occasions, once vandalised his own apartment and had a death warrant issued for him by the Pope.
Some of his major works, such as The Calling of St Matthew, the Crucifixion of St Peter and Deposition, can be found in churches in Rome, but his work is also well represented in the Uffizi gallery in Florence .
The town of Caravaggio is well worth visiting to see the Sanctuary of the Madonna di Caravaggio, which was built in the 16th century on the spot where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to a local peasant woman.
The Sanctuary was later rebuilt and completed in the 18th century and is now a grand building visited by pilgrims from all over the world.
Last year Bergamo airport at Orio al Serio changed its name to the Caravaggio International Airport Bergamo - Orio al Serio.
ENAC (the Italian civil aviation board) approved the decision by SACBO (the management company of Bergamo airport) to dedicate the airport to the painter.
Bergamo airport is also often referred to as ‘Milan Bergamo’. It is now the fourth busiest airport in Italy and you can fly to it from 29 different countries.

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Trattoria Caprese Bergamo

Neapolitan specialities in a northern Italian city

The colourful pizza oven at Trattoria Caprese
Enjoy a taste of southern Italy in the heart of Bergamo’s Citta Bassa at Trattoria Caprese.
The restaurant’s extensive menu offers authentic dishes from Naples, Capri and Sorrento served up in brightly decorated surroundings.
Trattoria Caprese also has branches in Naples, Porto Cervo, Monza and Brescia .
The Bergamo restaurant is in Via Daniele Piccinini, which is a turning off Rotonda dei Mille (the junction with the statue of Garibaldi). It is open seven days a week serving from 12.00 to 15.30 and from 19.00 to 00.30, when last orders are taken.
Trattoria Caprese prides itself on its Neapolitan atmosphere and friendly waiters, who aim to make the customers feel at home.
Among the antipasti selection are frittura napoletana (a deep fried selection) and mozzarella in carrozza (a deep fried sandwich of mozzarella and anchovies.)
A distinctive feature of the restaurant is the colourful, tiled pizza oven and there is a comprehensive pizza and calzone list to choose from.
Among the primi piatti are gnocchi alla sorrentina (gnocchi with cheese and tomatoes) and risotto alla pescatora (seafood risotto). For secondi there is fresh fish, frittura del golfo (mixed fried fish), scaloppina (a veal escalope served with either lemon, white wine or mushrooms), grilled meat dishes and main course salads.
As well as the pleasant house wine, Trattoria Caprese offers a good selection of Campanian labels such as Falanghina, Greco and Fiano di Avellino.
Editor’s note: “On my last visit the restaurant was packed with local Bergamo people who were enjoying the authentic Neapolitan atmosphere and food. Our waiter brought us things to nibble and a portion of seafood pasta to sample along the way, as well as complimentary limoncello and meloncello at the end of the meal.”  

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Beauty of Bergamo’s branch of Banca d’Italia

Banca d'Italia building in Bergamo
One of the most impressive buildings in Bergamo’s Città Bassa (lower town) is the Banca d’Italia in Viale Roma.
You will pass it on the right hand side as you go up to the Città Alta (upper town) by bus or walk to the funicular station further up the road.
Built of brown stone in keeping with the other public buildings erected at the beginning of the 20th century in the Città Bassa, the bank has a decorative façade. It was built in 1924 to a neo-Renaissance design by Marcello Piacentini, a Roman architect who had been commissioned with redesigning the Città Bassa in Bergamo in 1907.
The building has since become a symbol of Bergamo’s strong commercial and banking tradition.
The Banca d’Italia in Bergamo provides services for other banks and for Poste Italiane but does not offer services to the general public.
Decorative ceiling in the entrance to the bank
If you go up the steps in front of the three arched porticos you will be able to admire the paintings on the ceiling of the entrance lobby.
The Banca d’Italia is the central bank of Italy and part of the European system of central banks. It was established in 1893 from the amalgamation of four existing major banks in Italy .

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Visit Bergamo at festival time

Roman column marks where
 Sant'Alessandro was killed

The end of August is a great time to visit Bergamo as the city is in celebratory mood because of the festa for their patron saint Sant’Alessandro.
Every year on 26 August Bergamo commemorates the date in AD 298 that Saint Alexander was martyred by the Romans for refusing to renounce his Christian faith.
It is believed Alessandro was a devout citizen who had insisted on preaching in Bergamo, despite having had several narrow escapes. But he was eventually caught by Roman soldiers and suffered decapitation.
A series of religious, cultural and gastronomic events takes place in his name over several days throughout the city, which is decorated with festive lights.
In 2010 for the first time there was a re-enactment of Alessandro’s execution in full costume at the place where it is believed to have been carried out, in Via Sant’Alessandro, where the church of Sant’Alessandro in Colonna now stands.
A Roman column outside the church marks the spot where the decapitation is said to have happened.
Church bells will ring out all over the city to herald the start of the festival beginning at 10.00 on Saturday 25 August. A fair to mark Sant’Alessandro’s festa will be held in Via Sentierone in the Città Bassa on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 August. There will also be a street art exhibition and musical entertainment.
Porta Sant’Alessandro, which leads from the Città Alta (upper town) to Borgo Canale and San Vigilio, was built in the 16th century. It was named after a fourth century cathedral that had originally been dedicated to the saint but was demolished to make way for the fortifications built round the Città Alta by the Venetians who ruled the city at the time.
The gate became a checkpoint manned by customs officers, who would tax farmers from outside the city bringing in vegetables, eggs, chickens and wine to sell to residents of the Città Alta (upper town).

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Busy Porta Sant’Agostino was built to protect Bergamo

Porta Sant'Agostino
The grey, sandstone Porta Sant’Agostino is the most popular way of entering Bergamo’s Città Alta (upper town).
Buses and cars from the Città Bassa (lower town) will climb Viale Vittorio Emanuele II and pass under the gate’s central archway before turning left and travelling along Viale delle Mura.
Pedestrians can use the smaller archways at the side to enter the Città Alta and walk along Via Porta Dipinta to reach Piazza Mercato delle Scarpe. From there the ancient Via Gombito leads to Piazza Vecchia in the centre of the upper town.
Porta Sant’Agostino is believed to have been designed by Paolo Berlendis and was built in 1575 during the huge project to improve the fortifications of the Città Alta.
Sant'Agostino fountain
The stone carving of the Venetian lion over the central archway was added more recently to replace earlier insignia that had been removed by invaders.
The beautiful fountain behind Porta Sant’Agostino was built in the same style as the gate later in the 16th century for the benefit of travellers arriving in the city.

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See the lake scenery that inspired Leonardo

View of Monte Isola from Tavernola Bergamasca
From Bergamo it is an easy journey to the resorts on the western side of Lago d’Iseo.
There are regular buses from the bus station in Via Bartolomeo Bono or you can drive to the lake in less than an hour.
The Bergamo side of Lago d’Iseo is well worth visiting as it is quieter and scenically more dramatic than the eastern side, which falls within the province of Brescia.
Furthest away at the top of the lake is Lovere, with its backdrop of mountains, which was selected for the 2009 edition of I Borghi piu belli d’Italia (the most beautiful small towns in Italy) guidebook.
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, an 18th century writer who lived in Lovere for ten years, was inspired to write poetry by the scenery. She once wrote in a letter to her daughter: “I am now in a place, the most beautifully romantic I ever saw in my life.”
There are old churches, towers and a renowned art gallery, the Galleria dell’Accademia Tadini. From Lovere there are regular boats to Pisogne, Sarnico and Iseo.
The rugged scenery between Lovere and Tavernola Bergamasca is claimed to have inspired Leonardo da Vinci to paint the mountains in the background of Mona Lisa.
You can travel along the shore by either car or bus, but probably the best way to enjoy the views is from a boat out on the lake.
From Tavernola Bergamasca you will have good views of Monte Isola, the large island in the middle of Lago d’Iseo, which is just a short crossing away. There are regular boats going back and forth, making it possible to visit the island just for a short time.
Sarnico, at the foot of the western shore, is a charming medieval town with cobbled streets climbing away from the lake that are crammed with interesting things to see.
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Top 12 sights in the Città Bassa in Bergamo

People often ask what the main sights are in the Città Bassa because there is such a wealth of beautiful buildings to look at in Bergamo’s lower town it can be difficult to know where to start.
I have put together a list of 12 places in the Città Bassa that visitors to Bergamo really must see. But it has not been easy to narrow down my choice and anyone who would like to suggest something to add to the list is welcome to email me with their suggestions.

1 - Santa Maria delle Grazie on the corner of Viale Papa Giovanni XXIII and Porta Nuova – with its 19th century green cupola topped with a golden statue. The origins of the church go back to 1422 when a convent was built on the site. The beautiful cloisters have been preserved within the church buildings, although the convent was suppressed at the beginning of the 19th century.
One of Porta Nova's twin Propilei
2 - Porta Nuova - the distinctive Propilei di Porta Nuova, two buildings that look like small temples, were designed by Ferdinando Crivelli in the mid 19th century and built on the site of one of the gates of the muraine, the name for the old city walls that used to run through the Citta Bassa.
3 - Via Sentierone -  a popular place for la passeggiata. The Sentierone, which means broad path, links Piazza Vittorio Veneto with Via Torquato Tasso, a road that leads into the oldest part of the Città Bassa.
4 – The Donizetti monument, set back from Via Sentierone in Piazza Cavour - erected in 1897 to commemorate the first anniversary of Donizetti’s birth. An imposing structure in white marble, it depicts the composer sitting on a bench gazing at the figure of a female playing the lyre. Set in the middle of a pond and surrounded by plants and trees, the monument is inscribed simply ‘A Gaetano Donizetti’.
La Chiesa dei Santi Bartolomeo e Stefano
5 - La Chiesa dei Santi Bartolomeo e Stefano, at the corner of Via Torquato Tasso and Largo Bortolo Belotti – providing an impressive backdrop for Via Sentierone. Inside are some beautiful 18th century frescoes, but it is difficult not to be drawn straight to the magnificent altarpiece, Madonna with Child and Saints painted in 1513 by Lorenzo Lotto. The painting is also sometimes referred to as Pala Martinengo as it was commissioned by Alessandro Martinengo Colleoni, the nephew and adopted ‘son’ of condottiero Bartolomeo Colleoni.
6 - Palazzo della Provincia in Via Torquato Tasso - Bergamo’s seat of provincial government, built between 1864 and 1871, the first public work to be carried out in Bergamo after the proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy. The new building was designed on a grand scale to house both the offices of the provincial administration and the prefecture of police. On the facade you will notice five carvings depicting significant events and personalities in Bergamo’s history.
7 - La Chiesa di Santo Spirito in Piazzetta Santo Spirito - considered the most important religious Renaissance building in the Città Bassa. It was converted from an original 14th century church by the Venetian born architect Pietro Isabello in 1530 on behalf of some of the rich merchant families in Bergamo . The fine Renaissance design is more striking inside where there is a nave and ten side chapels divided by tall columns. Santo Spirito houses Enthroned Madonna with Saints and Angels, painted by Lorenzo Lotto in 1521.
8 - San Bernardino in Pignolo in Via Pignolo - built at the end of the 16th century as a chapel for the use of the nobility and rich merchants living in the palaces in Via Pignolo. Inside there is a vaulted ceiling with frescoes and works by Gian Paolo Cavagna and Andrea Previtali. The altarpiece by Lorenzo Lotto portraying the Enthroned Madonna with Child, Angels and Saints was painted in 1521.
9 - Sant’Alessandro della Croce in Via Pignolo – with an elaborate façade added as recently as 1930. The interior has original baroque decoration and an 18th century inlaid marble altar by Andrea Fantoni. In the sacristry you will see the painting of the Holy Trinity by Renaissance artist Lorenzo Lotto.
Piazza Pontida
10 - Piazza Pontida near the corner of Via Sant’Ales- sandro and Via XX Settembre - the place where goods arriving in Bergamo used to be unloaded and bargained for before being sent up to the Città Alta. Some of the porticos date back to the 15th century, when farmers and merchants would shelter from the sun under them while negotiating over the goods.
11 - Sant’Alessandro in Colonna in Via Sant’Alessandro - believed to have been built where Bergamo’s patron saint was martyred by the Romans. A Roman column in front of the church is thought to mark the exact spot where the saint was killed by the Romans for refusing to renounce his Christian faith. Every year on 26 August Bergamo remembers Sant’Alessandro’s decapitation in 298.
12 - Palazzo delle Poste in Via Masone on the corner of Via Antonio Locatelli - an impressive piece of architecture, designed to follow on from the development of the lower town at the beginning of the 20th century by Marcello Piacentini. Built of brown stone, the post office has a tall clock tower and the long windows typical of 1930s architecture.  The Poste e Telegrafi building was planned in 1929 by Angiolo Mazzoni and completed in 1932. 

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Elegant hotel on the shore of Lago d’Iseo

Monte Isola in Lago d'Iseo
If you would like close up views of Monte Isola, the stunning island in the middle of Lago d’Iseo - just a short distance from Bergamo - visit the resort of Sulzano on the Brescia side of the lake.
If you are not driving, the best way to reach Sulzano is to take the train from Bergamo to Brescia and then change to the train that runs along the side of the lake in the direction of Edolo. It will pass through the resort of Iseo before it reaches Sulzano.
It is a short walk from the railway station in Sulzano to the landing stage, or imbarcadero, where you can buy boat tickets to visit the island and pick up tourism information leaflets. The green mountainous island almost looks almost within touching distance from here. It takes only a few minutes on the ferry to reach the nearest point on Monte Isola, the old fishing village of Peschiera Maraglio.
Sulzano viewed from the Monte Isola ferry
Sulzano is an ideal location for a short break as it has shops, bars and amenities and is set in beautiful scenery, as well as being handily placed for visiting the island.
Consider a stay at the Hotel Rivalago in Via Cadorna, which is right on the edge of the lake.
This elegant four star hotel has a beautiful garden which runs down to the shore and a lakeside swimming pool with a bar at the side. The 32 guest rooms all have wireless internet and some have balconies overlooking Lago d’Iseo with lovely views of Monte Isola.
The Hotel Rivalago also has its own private beach for the use of guests who wish to swim in the lake.

Check rates for the Hotel Rivalago with Hotels.com

Alternatively, check out the Hotel Rivalgo with Venere.com or Expedia.com

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Golden statue crowns cupola of huge church

Not to be missed in Bergamo’s Città Bassa…


Santa Maria Immacolata delle Grazie
A landmark of Bergamo's Città Bassa (lower town) is the impressive church of Santa Maria Immacolata delle Grazie in Viale Papa Giovanni XXIII.
The huge church on the corner of Porta Nuova has a 19th century green cupola topped with a golden statue with an early 20th century campanile next to it.
But the origins of the church go back as far as 1422 when a convent was built on the site dedicated to Santa Maria delle Grazie.
The beautiful cloisters have been preserved within the church buildings although the convent itself was suppressed at the beginning of the 19th century.
The neoclassical design for the new church was created between 1855 and 1857 by architect Antonio Preda and the first stone was laid on 1 May 1857 by the bishop at the time, Monsignore Pierluigi Speranza.
On 7 December 1907 the main altar was consecrated in the presence of the then bishop Giacomo Maria Radini Tedeschi, who was accompanied by his 26-year-old secretary Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, a native of Bergamo and the future Pope John XXIII.

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Rotonda dei Mille recalls the achievements of Garibaldi

The statue of Garibaldi
in Rotonda dei Mille
Bergamo is proud to call itself Città dei Mille in memory of the young men from the city who accepted Giuseppe Garibaldi’s invitation to help him unite Italy.
A statue of Garibaldi, who died 130 years ago today, stands on top of a marble column in the centre of Rotonda dei Mille in the Città Bassa (lower town), where five roads converge.
Garibaldi entered Bergamo in June 1859, where he was received with great enthusiasm. He invited the young Bergamaschi to volunteer for his Sicilian expedition and many young men accepted his invitation, earning Bergamo the title of Città dei Mille.
They helped Garibaldi win control of Sicily in the name of Vittorio Emanuele II. From there he crossed the Strait of Messina and marched north through Italy. He met the new king on 26 October 1860, shook his hand and then retired to live on the island of Caprera, off the coast of Sardinia. This was where he eventually died on 2 June, 1882, at the age of 74.

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New York art lovers enjoy paintings while Accademia Carrara is closed

Stars from the collection of Venetian paintings held by the Accademia Carrarra in Bergamo are currently on show in New York.
While the prestigious art gallery in Bergamo’s Città Bassa (lower town) is closed for restoration some of the choicest items from its collection have taken to the road.
From now until September, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art will be showing ‘Bellini, Titian and Lotto: North Italian paintings from the Accademia Carrara, Bergamo.
Bellini's Pietà with the Virgin and Saint John
Visitors will be able to see Giovanni Bellini’s Pietà with the Virgin and Saint John, dated between 1455 and 1460, a mournful complement to his later Madonna and Child, which is already in the Met’s collection.
From Titian there is the very early Orpheus and Eurydice, thought to have been painted between 1508 and 1512 and from Lorenzo Lotto there is the charming portrait of Lucina Brembati, who wears a large, jewelled toothpick on a gold chain around her neck.
Among the less familiar sights are three small narrative paintings from a Lotto altarpiece that have not travelled before and works by Giovanni Cariani, Andrea Previtali, Moretto da Brescia and Vincenzo Foppa, artists not so well known outside Italy.
For more information about the exhibition visit www.metmuseum.org.
Visitors to Bergamo can enjoy fine paintings from the Accademia Carrara collection and see inside the 12th century Palazzo della Ragione in the Città Alta (upper town) at the same time.
Titian's Orpheus and Eurydice
The exhibition ‘Vincere il Tempo’ (literally Winning Time) in the Truss Room of the Palazzo follows the collecting history of the Accademia, which was begun by Giacomo Carrara in the middle of the 18th century and has since received donations from many other passionate art collectors.
Along with works by Raphael, Titian and Mantegna, masterpieces by local artists such as Giovan Battista Moroni, Fra’ Galgario and Vincenzo Foppa are on display.
The entrance to the exhibition is up the covered staircase in Piazza Vecchia and along the little bridge that leads to the top floor of the Palazzo.
The ticket price is €5, but there are reductions for groups and families.
The building that usually houses the Accademia Carrara’s distinguished collection in Piazza Giacomo Carrara in the Città Bassa is currently undergoing extensive restoration work. For more information visit www.accademiacarrara.bergamo.it.

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Palace Hotel is ideal base for touring by car

If you want to explore the countryside around Bergamo, a car will give you the freedom to follow your own itinerary at your own pace.
Palace Hotel Zingonia
Whether you hire a car or bring your own, an ideal base for seeing the area is the smart, modern Palace Hotel Zingonia, to the south of Bergamo, which has a free underground car park.
The four star hotel is in Corso Europa in the residential area of Zingonia in Verdellino, close to the A4 Milano-Brescia motorway.
It is less than 11 km from the hotel to Bergamo Caravaggio Airport at Orio al Serio and just a short drive into the city.
Recently refurbished, the Palace Hotel Zingonia is furnished in contemporary style and the facilities include a bar, restaurant, meeting room, gym, sauna, Turkish bath and spa.
A buffet breakfast is included in the price of the room and there is free wifi.
For more information and to book, visit

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See magnificent altarpiece by Lorenzo Lotto

Not to be missed in Bergamo’s Città Bassa…


Although it is only a small church, San Bernardino in Pignolo is well worth a visit to see the art treasures it contains.
From Piazzetta Santo Spirito turn left into Via Pignolo and walk up the street in the direction of the Città Alta (upper town),  crossing Via Verdi, to the church of San Bernardino, built in the 16th century as a chapel for the use of the nobility and rich merchants who were living in palaces higher up Via Pignolo.
Inside the church there is a vaulted ceiling with frescoes by Talpino and there are works by Gian Paolo Cavagna and Andrea Previtali.
The stunning altarpiece by Lorenzo Lotto portraying the Enthroned Madonna with Child, Angels and Saints was painted in 1521 during the artist's stay in Bergamo.
Opening hours: 08.00 to 11.30 and 16.00 to 18.00; Sundays and holidays 08.00 to 12.00.

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Baroque church contains important works of art

Not to be missed in Bergamo’s Città Bassa…


Sant'Alessandro della Croce
Behind the ornate marble façade of Sant’Alessandro della Croce lies a simple 17th century church housing some magnificent works of art.
The church can be found in Via Pignolo close to the square of Piazzetta del Delfino, where there is a lovely 16th century fountain.
Although the elaborate façade was added as recently as 1930, the interior of the church has original baroque decoration and an 18th century inlaid marble altar by Andrea Fantoni.
It is also worth a look round inside the church to see works by Giovan Battista Moroni, Andrea Previtali, Palma the Younger, Sebastiano Ricci and Leandro Bassano.
In the sacristry you will see an early 16th century painting of Christ carrying the cross by Lorenzo Costa and the painting of the Holy Trinity by Renaissance artist Lorenzo Lotto.

Sant’Alessandro della Croce is open from 7 am to 11.45 and from 3.30 to 7 pm.

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Square was the hub of the city in the 15th century

Not to be missed in Bergamo’s Città Bassa…


Piazza Pontida is a popular meeting place
One of the squares with historic importance in the Città Bassa (lower town) is Piazza Pontida, which is near the corner of Via Sant’Alessandro and Via XX Settembre.
The piazza is close to a point known for centuries as Cinque Vie (five roads), where traffic from Milan, Lecco, Treviglio and Crema would converge.
Piazza Pontida was the place where the goods arriving in Bergamo would be unloaded and bargained for before being sent up to the Città Alta (upper town).
Some of the portici (porticoes) date back to the 15th century, when the farmers and merchants would shelter from the sun while negotiating over the goods. It would have been a lively scene, with story tellers and poets roaming from one inn to the next, entertaining the crowds who had come to trade in the square.
There are now modern shops doing business from under the porticoes but the square is still a popular meeting place for local people.
Sit at a table outside one of the bars or restaurants and watch the Bergamaschi going about their business, imagining what the scene would have been like 500 years ago.

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Get away from it all at La Valletta Relais

If you would like a relaxing holiday in the countryside outside Bergamo but have all the amenities of the Città Alta (upper town) available within walking distance, consider a stay at La Valletta Relais.
The pretty La Valletta Relais Hotel

This well regarded three star hotel is in Via Castagneta in the Parco dei Colli, just above Bergamo’s Città Alta.
Visitors have described it as a 15 to 20-minute walk away from the upper town, but the hotel also provides free transport to and from the Città Alta on request.
La Valletta Relais has a large terrace where guests can sit and enjoy the views over the surrounding countryside and breakfast is served out there during the summer.
The hotel is well placed for walking enthusiasts as there is a choice of scenic paths to follow through Parco dei Colli, some starting as close as 100 metres from the hotel.
La Valletta Relais’s eight bedrooms all have en suite bathrooms, satellite television and minibar and there is free wifi internet access available throughout the building.

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Renaissance church commissioned by wealthy merchants

Not to be missed in Bergamo ’s Città Bassa…


Despite its rather rough looking façade, the church of Santo Spirito is considered the most important religious Renaissance building in Bergamo’s Città Bassa (lower town).
The unusual façade of the
church of Santo Spirito
It was converted from an original 14th century church by the Venetian born architect Pietro Isabello in 1530 on behalf of some of the rich merchant families in Bergamo.
But the project was not completed at the time, the façade was left unfinished and the church’s vaulted roof was added in the 18th century.
The striking bronze sculpture is a much more recent addition, a representation of the Descent of the Holy Ghost (Discesa dello Santo Spirito) designed by Francesco Somaini and erected in 1971. 
The fine Renaissance design of the church is more striking in Santo Spirito’s interior, which has a nave and ten side chapels divided by tall columns. The church is said to have been particularly admired by Pope John XXIII, who was born just outside Bergamo.
Santo Spirito houses many important works of art including Enthroned Madonna with Saints and Angels, painted by Lorenzo Lotto in 1521 and works by Andrea Previtali and Ambrogio Bergognone.
It is worth looking in the fifth chapel on the left to see the tomb of two members of the Tasso family, who were the pioneers of a regular postal service as early as the beginning of the 15th century.
The church of Santo Spirito can be found in Piazzetta Santo Spirito on the corner of Via Torquato Tasso and Via Pignolo.

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Celebrate Easter in Bergamo

Easter eggs fill shop windows
in Bergamo
Easter is a lovely time for a break in Bergamo as the weather is beginning to warm up and the spring flowers are in bloom.
In the run up to Easter many Bergamo shops will have elaborate displays of chocolate eggs in their windows. Italian Easter eggs are usually wrapped artistically in coloured cellophane and tied with pretty ribbons. They often contain a toy, or in the case of Easter eggs for adults, a gift, which can sometimes be as substantial as a mobile phone!
There are some fascinating chocolate and cake shops in Via Colleoni in the Città Alta (upper town) and down in the Città Bassa (lower town) there is a well-stocked chocolate and sweet shop in Via Tiraboschi, a left turn off Viale Papa Giovanni XXIII at Largo Porta Nuova. The shop also sells a selection of boxes of chocolates and biscuits - ideal to take home as holiday presents.
Although Venerdi Santo (Good Friday) is not a Bank Holiday in Italy and the shops are open as usual there will be special services in the churches and some areas will have processions and events.
On Easter Sunday, while the world tunes in to watch the celebrations in Rome on television, services will be held at churches all over Bergamo.
The restaurants in Bergamo will be busy at lunch time as families go out to celebrate la Pasqua (Easter) together and many will be serving a special menu. If you are looking forward to a good lunch it is advisable to book somewhere in advance.

Traditional Easter food

A traditional Easter meal for Italian families, whether they are eating at home or in a restaurant, is likely to centre on agnello (lamb) as the main course, either roasted or braised.
For dessert there will usually be la Colomba, the dove shaped cake that is traditional at Easter, in the same way that il Panettone is traditional at Christmas.
La Colomba (the dove) is known as the bird of peace and there is a legend that says a cake in the shape of a dove was offered to try to end a siege at Pavia.
But there is also the theory that the cake was created in the 1930s by a firm in Milan who wanted to provide a cake for Easter that was the equivalent to il Panettone.
La Colomba is now sold all over Italy but is also made in the home. The traditional version has an almond and sugar topping, but these days the shops sell them with all kinds of fillings, icings and toppings. 
If the weather is warm and sunny, consider a day out at one of the lakes near Bergamo during your stay.
You could take a bus to the resorts of Sarnico, Tavernola Bergamasca or Lovere on the western shore of Lago d’Iseo. Or you could go by train to Brescia , where you then change to the train to Edolo that runs alongside the eastern shore of the lake. The train stops at Sulzano and from there you could make the short crossing to Monte Isola, the largest lake island in Italy and southern Europe.
From Brescia you can also take a train to Desenzano del Garda on Lake Garda , from where you can go by boat to Sirmione or Bardolino.
And it is only half an hour by direct train from Bergamo to the beautiful lake resort of Lecco at the foot of Lago di Como.
Buona Pasqua! 

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