What to visit in Bergamo Italy

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1 Piazza Vecchia

Piazza Vecchia
Piazza Vecchia
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A remarkable and beautiful assembly of patrician houses and the Palazzo della Ragione (city hall) frame this square at the heart of the old town. The 12th-century Palazzo della Ragione’s stone staircase and loggia of three Gothic arches (largely rebuilt in the mid-1500s) forms the piazza’s upper side, adjoining the tall tower, Torre del Comune. The lower side is bounded by the late-Renaissance Palazzo Nuovo, housing the municipal library. In the center stands the Contarini Fountain, decorated by lions, and another Lion of St. Mark looks down from above. A café in the upper corner makes a good spot for appreciating the scene.

2 Santa Maria Maggiore (Basilica of St. Mary Major)

Santa Maria Maggiore (Basilica of St. Mary Major)
Santa Maria Maggiore (Basilica of St. Mary Major)
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Through the archway at the top of Piazza Vecchia is Piazza del Duomo (cathedral square), and together they contain some of Bergamo’s most impressive architectural treasures. The church of Santa Maria Maggiore, begun in 1137 as a Romanesque basilica, has a stepped-back tower over the crossing and an ornate choir. Doorways at either side of the church are guarded by lions under beautiful Gothic canopies (1353 and 1360). Inside are fine Renaissance choir stalls, Baroque stucco work, and 16th-century tapestries on the walls of the side-aisles and choir. Local admirers still leave fresh flowers on the tomb of the composer Donizetti, a Bergamo native buried here.

Address: Piazza Duomo, Bergamo

3 Cappella Colleoni (Colleoni Chapel)

Cappella Colleoni (Colleoni Chapel)
Cappella Colleoni (Colleoni Chapel)
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Adjoining Santa Maria Maggiore is the Cappella Colleoni, in early Lombard Renaissance style with a lavishly decorated façade of multicolored inlaid marble. Built 1470-76 to house the tomb of the condottiere Bartolomeo Colleoni and his daughter Medea, the chapel was designed by Giovanni Amadeo, who also designed the tombs inside. The ceiling paintings by Giambattista Tiepolo were added in 1732.

Address: Piazza Duomo, Bergamo

4 Cathedral of Sant’Alessandro

Cathedral of Sant'Alessandro
Cathedral of Sant’Alessandro
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At one end of Piazza del Duomo, at right angles to Santa Maria Maggiore, is the cathedral of Sant’Alessandro, built in 1459, and with a neo-classical façade and dome added in 1889. Inside are paintings by Tiepolo, Previtali, and Moroni and beautiful Baroque choir-stalls.

Address: Piazza Duomo, Bergamo

5 Baptistery

Baptistery
Baptistery
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To the right of the Cappella Colleoni is the Baptistery, an unusual octagonal building dating from 1340. It was originally inside Santa Maria Maggiore, then taken down in 1659 and stored, reassembled in 1856, and again torn down and re-erected here in 1898. The statues surrounding it date to the 14th century.

Address: Piazza Duomo, Bergamo

6 Piazza Mercato delle Scarpe

Street off Piazza Mercato delle Scarpe
Street off Piazza Mercato delle Scarpe
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Near the upper station of the funicular, Piazza Mercato delle Scarpe leads into the narrow stone-paved Via Gombito, in which lies a patrician tower-house, the Torre di Gombito, built around 1100. Below, on Via di Porta Dipinta, stand the beautiful churches of San Michele al Pozzo Bianco and Sant’Andrea (inside the latter is a Madonna Enthroned with Saints by Moretto).

7 Rocca Museum

Rocca Museum
Rocca Museum
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From the Piazza Mercato delle Scarpe, Via alla Rocca, to the right, ascends to the Rocca, a 14th-century bastion that contains the Museo del Risorgimento e della Resistenza. This museum contains documents and exhibits about the struggle for independence in Italy, when the city of Bergamo was freed from Austrian rule by the army of Giuseppe Garibaldi. Views from the castle keep and the adjoining Parco della Rimembranza (Remembrance Park) cover a full 360-degrees.

Address: Via alla Rocca, Bergamo

Official site: www.bergamoestoria.it

8 City Gates and Viale delle Mura

City Gates and Viale delle Mura
City Gates and Viale delle Mura
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More than four kilometers of walls built by the Venetians surround the old city, and Viale delle Mura follows them from Porta Sant’Alessandro, near the Donizetti Museum, past Porta San Giacomo, the most handsome of the town gates, and on past the church of Sant’Agostino to Porta Sant’Agostino. From this gate, Viale Vittorio Emanuele II descends past the lower station of the funicular and into the center of the lower town.

9 Museo di Scienze Naturali e Archeologico (Natural Science and Archeological Museum)

From the Piazza Vecchia, the narrow Via Colleoni runs northwest to the Citadel, which houses a museum with exhibits on natural science, ethnography, paleontology, and archeology. Audio guides are available in English.

Address: Piazza Cittadella 10, Bergamo

10 Museo Donizettiano (Donizetti Museum)

Music lovers may want to see memorabilia from the life of Bergamo-born Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848) and other Italian composers and musicians, including Rossini, Bellini, and Verdi. The palace that holds the museum is itself worth seeing, ornately decorated with frescoes by Borromini. Concerts are held in its Liberty-style (art nouveau) Sala Piatti.

Address: Via Arena 9, Bergamo

11 Piazza Matteotti

Piazza Matteotti
Piazza Matteotti
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The center of Bergamo’s Lower Town (Città Bassa) is the Piazza Matteotti, with beautiful gardens, parks, and monuments, adjoining which is the imposing Piazza Vittorio Veneto, with the Torre dei Caduti, a war memorial. Opposite are the twin neo-classical gatehouses of the Porta Nuova, from which the wide Viale Papa Giovanni XXIII runs south to the train station. This street and the Viale Vittoria Emanuele II, which leads from the Piazza Vittorio Veneto to the upper town, form Bergamo’s principal traffic artery. East of Piazza Matteotti, in the busy avenue called the Sentierone, stands the Teatro Donizetti, and in the east side of the Piazza Cavour is a monument to Gaetano Donizetti.

12 Art Gallery of the Accademia Carrara

Art Gallery of the Accademia Carrara
Art Gallery of the Accademia Carrara
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Reached by a stepped lane leading down from Porta Sant’Agostino is a palace housing the Accademia Carrara, an art museum with works by Italian artists Lorenzo Lotto, Palma il Vecchio, Giovanni Battista Moroni, Vittore Carpaccio, Jacopo and Giovanni Bellini, Andrea Mantegna, Girolamo Romani Romanino, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Titian, Paolo Veronese, Raffael Santi, Sandro Botticelli, Luca Signorelli, and Carlo Crivelli, as well as works by Albrecht Dürer and Anton van Dyck.

Address: Piazza dell’Accademia (Via San Tommaso), Bergamo


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