The stunning medieval and Renaissance architecture of the Citta Alta (upper town) is understandably a magnet for visitors to Bergamo.
It can be easy to overlook the Citta Bassa and go straight up to the beautiful town within the walls that you see in the skyline when you arrive in the city.
But Bergamo’s lower town has a wealth of imposing 18th and 19th century buildings to admire as well as many areas of historical importance.
One square definitely not to be missed is Piazza Pontida, near the junction of Via Sant’Alessandro and Via XX Settembre, which would have been the hub of the city in the 15th century.
|Decorative porticos in Piazza Pontida
The square is close to a point known for centuries as Cinque Vie (five roads), where traffic from Milan, Lecco, Treviglio and Crema would converge. It was the place where goods arriving in Bergamo would be unloaded before being sent up to the Citta Alta (upper town).
Some of the portici (porticos) date back to the 15th century, when farmers and merchants would shelter from the sun under them while negotiating over the goods. It would have been a lively scene in those days, 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 behind the porticos, but the square is still a popular meeting place for local people and it is pleasant to sit at a table outside one of the bars or restaurants and watch the Bergamaschi going about their daily lives.