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.


Antonio Moscheni – Bergamo painter

Antonio Moscheni made his own paints
 using vegetable dye
The painter Antonio Moscheni was born on this day in 1854 in the town of Stezzano, near Bergamo in Lombardy.

Educated at the prestigious Accademia Carrara in Bergamo, where he studied with accomplished masters, he learned the most advanced techniques. He also spent a year in Rome studying the masterpieces of the Vatican. 

When he returned to Bergamo his ability was in great demand. He was commissioned by many churches in the city and the surrounding area and his work at the Sanctuary of Madonna del Campo in his home town of Stezzano was particularly admired.

He exhibited his work in Milan and Turin and had the prospect of a brilliant career ahead of him. 

However in 1889, at the age of 35, Moscheni turned his back on fame to enter the Society of Jesus, enrolling himself as a lay brother.

But it was not the end of his career as an artist.  Aware of his talents, his superiors wasted no time, once his novitiate was completed, in despatching him to Croatia and Albania to work on Jesuit churches, and on his return sending him to Piacenza and Modena .

Moscheni is perhaps best known for the extraordinary frescoes he created in the chapel of St Aloysius College in Mangalore , India .

St Aloysius, situated in the state of Karnataka in south-west India, was built by Italian Jesuit Missionaries in 1880 and the chapel was added four years later.  A beautiful building, it would not look out of place in Rome and the Baroque extravagance of Moscheni's work, which adorns almost every available wall space and ceiling, makes it unique in India .

The chapel welcomes thousands of visitors each year simply to marvel at Moscheni's art for the vibrance of his colours and the intricacy of the detail.

Scenes depicted include the life of St. Aloysius, who as the Italian aristocrat Aloysius Gonzaga became a Jesuit and was studying in Rome when he died at the age of just 23, having devoted himself to caring for the victims of an outbreak of plague.

Also painted are the Apostles, the lives of the Saints and the life of Jesus. The picture of Jesus with a group of children on the rear wall, opposite the main altar, is considered the best of Moscheni’s work. 

The artist's skill enabled him to create the illusion of three dimensions, so that figures painted on flat walls, for example, appear at first glance to be statues.

Another interesting feature is the chapel floor, all of which is paved with stones brought from Bergamo which again creates the perception of three dimensions. Visitors at first can mistake the tiles for steps. 

Moscheni went to India in 1898 and remarkably, often hanging precariously from scaffolding, he painted the entire 829 square metres of surface area single-handed, using paints he made using vegetable dyes. The whole project took two and a half years.

Moscheni was also asked to decorate the Hospital Chapel at Kankanady, a local church and the Seminary of Mangalore before being invited to paint frescoes at the Holy Name Cathedral in Mumbai.

Moscheni moved from there to the Basilica of Santa Cruz at Fort Kochi, in the state of Kerala, at the personal invitation of the Bishop in 1905.  Sadly, Moscheni fell ill with dysentery while he was working there, although he battled against the illness and finished the job.

He died in November 1905, four days before the consecration of the church, and is said to have been buried at the Carmelite Monastery in Manjummel. 

Villa Moscheni is still a private home
Stezzano, situated just outside Bergamo, not far from the airport at Orio al Serio, marked the 100th anniversary of the death of Moscheni in 2005 when a bust created by a local sculptor, Learco Campana, was unveiled in the Biblioteca Comunale. 

Moscheni's home in Stezzano, the Villa Moscheni, in Via Carrara Beroa, is still in private ownership and includes some frescoes by Moscheni.

The historic centre of Stezzano is of medieval origin and has changed little in appearance. It is mainly characterised by former farmhouses and four substantial 17th century villas - the Villa Zanchi, Villa Morlani, Villa Maffeis and Villa Moroni, which dominates the picturesque Piazza Libertà.  

The grand parish church of San Giovanni Battista is a short distance away in Piazza Dante. The Sanctuary of Madonna dei Campi, which has works by Moscheni, can be found a little out of the centre, on the road towards Grumello del Piano. 

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NH Bergamo – a Best of Bergamo recommended hotel

The smart and modern NH Bergamo hotel
The smart and modern NH Bergamo hotel
The immaculate and comfortable NH Bergamo is in a great location right in the centre of Bergamo’s lower town, the Città Bassa.

This modern hotel in Via Paleocapa is close to the railway station and the stops for buses going to the upper town, the Città Alta, or to Bergamo Caravaggio airport.

It is handy for the best shops and restaurants in the lower town, but within walking distance of the funicular railway that ferries passengers up to the historic Città Alta.

The smart, well-designed hotel has 88 comfortable guest rooms, all with TV, mini bar and free Wi-Fi.

An excellent buffet breakfast is served daily on the ground floor of the hotel and there is a 24-hour bar service.

The Best of Bergamo Editor says: 'I have really enjoyed both my stays at the NH Bergamo. The room was quiet and I was able to sleep soundly, even though I was in the centre of the lower town and close to the main street. But it was great to be able to leave the hotel and be so close to all the delights of the Città Bassa and the transport links.'

From the airport, you can either take a reasonably priced taxi, or buy a ticket for the No 1 bus that passes the railway station before turning along Viale Papa Giovanni XXIII in the direction of the Città Alta. 

The hotel is in Via Palocapa, which goes off the main street on the left. The street is across the road and a short distance from the bus stop outside the beautiful church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. The church is a good landmark, on the corner of Viale Papa Giovanni XXIII and Porta Nuova, with its 19th century green cupola topped with a golden statue.

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