|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.