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.
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.
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.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.
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.
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|
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|
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.
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.