A MAGICAL PLACE

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.

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Visit Bergamo’s Civic Archaeology Museum

Civico Museo Archeologico di Bergamo

The Museum is housed in a 14th century palace in Piazza della Cittadella
The museum is housed in a 14th century
palace in Piazza della Cittadella
You can travel in the footsteps of the Celts, Romans and Longobards who built Bergamo by visiting the Civic Archaeology Museum to see the wealth of artefacts that have been uncovered over the centuries in the city and the surrounding area.

Items dating back to the Neolithic period in prehistoric times reveal Bergamo’s ancient origins. Stone axes, iron swords, Celtic bronze ornaments and Longobard gold crosses are among the items on display in the museum. Bergamo’s Roman period is particularly well represented with a wealth of sculptures, inscriptions, tomb stones and funerary items.

The Civic Archaeology Museum is now housed in a 14th century palace in Piazza della Cittadella in the Città Alta, but its collection dates back as far as 1561, when Bergamo’s Great Council established ‘a collection of antiquities’ for people to view in the loggia under Palazzo della Ragione in Piazza Vecchia in the Città Alta.

The original display of artefacts has increased hugely over the centuries thanks to the many valuable items that have been unearthed locally and donated to the collection and the museum has had to move to many different locations in the city as it kept requiring more space.

The museum has collections of artefacts from many periods of history unearthed locally
The museum has collections of artefacts from
many periods of history unearthed locally
A special publication registering the most notable archaeological discoveries in the care of the museum was published in 1900 by Professor Gaetano Mantovani. All the important finds were gathered together in the 1930s and given a home in the Rocca fortress, where they were kept safe during World War II.

The collection was moved in 1960 to its present location, where it now occupies the ground floor of a palace built in the 14th century by the Visconti family. Milan’s ancient rulers, in Piazza Cittadella.

There are rooms displaying prehistoric, bronze age, Iron age, gallic and Longobard items. There is plenty of evidence from the Roman period in Bergamo, with an important collection of funerary epigraphs from the area. There are rooms devoted to the city’s history from the early urban settlement of the fifth century BC to the Roman city becoming a municipium in the age of Caesar- Augustus. Artefacts from the Longobard duchy in the early Middle Ages include fascinating examples of the pieces of armour worn by soldiers at the time.

The museum is open between October and December from 9.00 to 13.00 and 14.00 to 17.00 Thursday and Friday and from 10.00 to 13.00 and 14.00 to 17.30 on Saturday and Sunday.

The entrance ticket is three euros and the ticket is also valid for entry to the Natural Science Museum, also in Piazza della Cittadella. 


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Friday, March 25, 2022

Bergamo’s airport passes 50-year milestone

First commercial flight took off in 1972


In 1972, the airport's facilities consisted of a small single-storey building - a far cry from today
In 1972, the airport's facilities consisted of a small
single-storey building - a far cry from today
Bergamo’s international airport this week celebrated 50 years since the first commercial flight left the runway at Orio al Serio.

The flight, operated by the former Itavia airline using one of their McDonnell Douglas DC-9 aircraft, took off at 9.15am on 21 March bound for Rome, due to land around one hour later. There were just 18 passengers on board. 

The anniversary was marked by a presentation at the Teatro Donizetti in Bergamo’s Città Bassa, at which Giovanni Sanga - the president of SACBO, the company that runs the airport - explained how traffic through the airport has expanded so rapidly in the last 20 years that Orio al Serio - known nowadays as Il Caravaggio - is now the third busiest airport in Italy.

Built on the site of what had been a World War Two military airfield, Il Caravaggio handled more than 13.8 million passengers in 2019 - the last full year before the Covid-19 pandemic - which meant only Rome Leonardo da Vinci and Milan Malpensa were busier. In 2000, the numbers of passengers through the airport was only one million

Ryanair is by far Bergamo's biggest airline today,
serving more than 100 destinations
Including seasonal charter flights, more than 20 airlines link Bergamo with around 135 destinations. By far the biggest carrier using Il Caravaggio is the Irish airline Ryanair, which flies to more than 100 destinations. The airport - usually referred to in timetables as Milan Bergamo - is Ryanair’s third largest hub after London Stansted and Dublin.

Less than four kilometres (2.5 miles) from the city, Il Caravaggio is easily accessible with the Bergamo's railway station only 15 minutes away by the Linea 1 service run by ATB (Azienda Trasporti Bergamo). From the station, the service travels along the main thoroughfare through the Città Bassa, stopping within a short walk of most of the major hotels, to Città Alta, to which the journey takes about half an hour.

There are plans to open a railway station at the airport in 2024.


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Thursday, March 24, 2022

Who is Giorgio Gori, Bergamo’s mayor?

Giorgio Gori has been Mayor of Bergamo since 2014
Giorgio Gori has been Mayor of
Bergamo since 2014
Giorgio Gori, Mayor of Bergamo since 2014, is a well known figure in his home city but saw his profile rise further afield during the first stage of the Covid-19 pandemic, when Bergamo found itself at the epicentre of the crisis.

As television crews descended on the city, Gori was regularly interviewed on camera and thus was seen by audiences in many countries as the story of Covid-19’s devastating impact on Italy dominated news bulletins.

Gori’s own background is in the media. Educated in the magnificent surroundings of the Liceo Classico Paolo Sarpi in the historic Città Alta, he went on to study architecture at the University of Milan but also was keen to become a journalist. He began to contribute to local newspapers, including L’Eco di Bergamo, and the city’s own television station, BergamoTV.

In 1984 he joined the television station Rete4, which at the time belonged to the Arnaldo Mondadori publishing house and later became part of Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset stable. Gori worked for Mediaset for 15 years. Between 1991 and 2001, he was director of the three Mediaset networks, Rete4, Canale5 and Italia1. 

It was through Canale5 that Gori met his wife, the journalist and TV presenter Cristina Parodi, who was one of the faces of Canale5’s flagship news programme, TG5, which launched in 1992. They were married in 1995, made their home in Bergamo and have three children, Benedetta, Alessandro and Angelica.

Gori left Mediaset in 2001 to partner Ilaria Dallatana and Francesca Canetta in setting up a television production company, Magnolia, which specialised in the development and production of original formats for television and interactive media. Magnolia collaborated with the Rai, Mediaset, LA7 and Sky networks and had some memorable successes, including the hit shows L'isola dei famosi, Piazzapulita, MasterChef Italia e L'eredità.

The neoclassical facade of the Liceo Classico Paolo Sarpi in the Città Alta
The neoclassical facade of the Liceo
Classico Paolo Sarpi in the Città Alta
As a student, Gori had been quite politically active and even as he pursued a career, he never turned away completely from politics. In 2012 he took the bold decision to leave Magnolia in order to devote himself to fulfilling some political ambitions and to help his home city, for which he had much affection.

He joined the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and in 2012 worked as a close adviser to Matteo Renzi, then Mayor of Florence, as he prepared what was ultimately his successful bid to become prime minister.

In Bergamo, Gori set up the InNova Bergamo Association with the aim of studying the issues concerning his city and in 2014 was elected the city’s mayor, defeating the incumbent Franco Tentorio, who represented Berlusconi’s centre-right Forza Italia.

Gori failed in his attempt in 2017 to become regional president of Lombardy but in 2019 was re-elected as Mayor or Bergamo, the first to be returned for a second term since the position became subject to a public vote.

During the first Covid-19 lockdown in Italy, Gori - whose 62nd birthday is today - wrote a book entitled Riscatto - Bergamo e Italia: Appunti per un futuro possibile (Ransom - Bergamo and Italy: Notes for a possible future) in which he describes his life and professional experiences, the story of Bergamo during the first wave of Covid-19, and sets out his view of the path Italy must take to be reborn after the pandemic.

The Liceo Classico Paolo Sarpi, the high school attended by Gori, is an historic institution in Piazza Rosate in Bergamo’s Città Alta, opposite the rear entrance of the city’s cathedral. 

Identifiable by its neoclassical facade designed by Ferdinando Crivelli, the Liceo has its roots in the first public school of Grammar, Humanities, and Rhetorics established by the Republic of Venice in 1506 under the name of Accademia della Misericordia. It was renamed after Paolo Sarpi, a Venetian polymath, in 1803, by Napoleonic decree. 

The building that houses the modern school was built between 1845 and 1852 under the auspices of the Austrian Government, when it was known as Regio Liceo.

In 1860, the academy contributed to the Italian Unification with 70 students joining Garibaldi's Expedition of the Thousand, aimed at annexing the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies to the embryonic Kingdom of Italy. In 2011, the academy took part in the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Italian unification, attended by the President of the Republic, Giorgio Napolitano.

Garibaldi famously referred to Bergamo as La Città dei Mille, because of the major role it played in the Expedition of the Thousand. 

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Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Goggia 'fairy tale' almost realised at Winter Olympics

Sofia Goggia became an Olympic champion in 2018
Sofia Goggia became an
Olympic champion in 2018
The Bergamo skier Sofia Goggia narrowly failed in her bid to defend her downhill title at the Winter Olympics in Beijing on Tuesday - but was delighted with her performance nonetheless after fearing she would not be able to take part in the Games in China.

Goggia, who became an Olympic champion for the first time when she took the women's downhill gold at the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, suffered damaged anterior cruciate ligaments in her left knee and fractured her fibula in a World Cup race at Cortina d'Ampezzo in Italy last month.

"I'm a little sorry about (not winning) the gold medal, but I could not do more than this,” she told reporters after taking the silver medal, her time just 16 hundredths of a second behind Switzerland's Corinne Suter.

"I'm really happy with the way I skied,” she added. “It's a fairy tale that I managed to make real because, after the injury at Cortina, it seemed like a dream that had gone up in smoke.

"I thank the doctors who told me that, if I really believed, I could do it and took the responsibility of letting me race.”

Michela Moiola receives an honour from Italy president Sergio Mattarella after her 2018 win
Michela Moiola receives an honour from Italy
president Sergio Mattarella after her 2018 win
The 29-year-old Goggia races with an outline of the Bergamo skyline on the back of her helmet, which she dedicated to the 6,000 citizens of Bergamo province who have lost their lives during the Covid-19 pandemic.

They included the grandmother of her friend and Italy teammate, 26-year-old Michela Moioli, who comes from Alzano Lombardo, just outside Bergamo.

Moioli, who was the women’s snowboard cross champion at the Pyeongchang Games, replaced Goggia as Italy’s flag bearer at the opening ceremony in Beijing.

Unfortunately, her title defence also ended in disappointment when she was eliminated at the semi-final stage of the snowboard cross event.

(Portrait photo of Sofia Goggia by Vale93b via Wikipedia Commons)



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Monday, January 31, 2022

The ‘Godmother of Italian fashion’

Bergamo's Mariuccia Mandelli, founder of the Krizia fashion house


The Krizia fashion house was opened by the former primary school teacher
The Krizia fashion house was opened
by the former primary school teacher
Bergamo’s home-grown fashion designer, Mariuccia Mandelli, the founder of the fashion house, Krizia, was born January 31, 1925 in the Città Alta.

Although Mandelli trained to be a primary school teacher on the advice of her mother and pursued a teaching career when she was in her twenties, she had a talent for sewing and had always been interested in fashion. So it took just one lucky break to get her started.

When a friend offered her the use of a flat rent-free for six months, Mandelli went to live in it, bought an old sewing machine and started making clothes. She then launched her label, Krizia, by selling the clothes from her small car, a Fiat 500. She used to drive to shops in Milan with suitcases full of samples in the back and by 1954 had established a ready-to-wear fashion house.

Andy Warhol's painting captured Mandelli's trademark look
Andy Warhol's painting captured
Mandelli's trademark look
In 1964, Mandelli unveiled her first black-and-white collection at the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, the designs for which earned her a Critica della Moda award.

Although she lived in Milan after launching Krizia, Mandelli remained proud of her home town and often talked about it fondly in media interviews, promoting the city’s reputation as an artistic and cultural treasure chest, with its own natural beauty, set among hills, mountains, lakes and rolling countryside. 

Mandelli’s fashion house grew rapidly during the 1960s and 1970s. In 1971, Mandelli launched a style of shorts, which were cut very short and were possibly the first version of hot pants to appear. Krizia knitwear became instantly recognizable, featuring animals such as elephants, lions, tigers, leopards and giraffes in the designs.

During the 1990s, Krizia grew into a multi-million-dollar business and Mandelli’s hairstyle and trademark red lipstick were once captured in a portrait by Andy Warhol.

Mandelli also went on to establish a popular line of men’s wear, one of the first female fashion designers to do this successfully.

When Mariuccia Mandelli died at her home in Milan in December 2015 at the age of 90, she had been running Krizia, for the best part of 60 years, relinquishing control only a year earlier when it was sold to a Chinese corporation. In an obituary, the Guardian newspaper called her the Godmother of Italian fashion.

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