|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).
See Best of Bergamo’s updated Flights Guide