Visiting Bergamo, Italy – Part One: Main Attractions
Bergamo, Italy is the epitome of a charming medieval town and modern city combined. Bergamo has a big city feel in the lower city where traffic is crazy; locals are having boisterous conversations with plenty of hand gestures, modern art exhibits and operas, and the general rush of big city life. While the upper city is a medieval maze of cobble stoned streets, charming cafes, grand piazzas and castle ruins.
What to see and do in Bergamo, Italy
The main tourist attraction is the upper city or “Citta alta” situated on a hill above the city.
1 – Piazza Vecchia – the old square is the where you will find the main attractions, details of each below. Just past the square is the Piazza Duomo where you will find the main sights which are two churches and a chapel, all representing different centuries, and collectively spanning 500 years!
2 – Palazzo della Ragione – Situated at the end of the old square, this small stone building is now an art museum. The atrium below the palazzo has an 18th century sundial that cuts a diagonal right through the atrium.
3 – Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore – The basilica is just past the old square and right next to the Capella Colleoni/Colleoni Chapel. The church was founded in the 12th century and was constructed well into the 13th and 14th centuries with restorations made in the 17th century. In fact, the Basilica rests on the site of what used to be a Roman temple and an 8th century church.
The church can be entered by the small door flanked by two lions. Above the doorway are the statues of Saints and the Madonna and Child. (There is another entrance to the church on the other side which is a bit less traveled by tourists, and that entrance is guarded by two white marble lions).
Inside the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore you will find tapestries from the 16th century, frescos, a wooden choir, bronze candelabras, a 14th century crucifix, and the tomb of the composer Gaetano Donizetti and his teacher Simone Mayr. Also note the fresco of The Last Supper from the 14th century by the entrance, the artist is unknown, but it is a lovely painting.
4 – The Colleoni Chapel has the geometric façade composed of pink and white marble. The Chapel was built in the late 15th century for Bartolomeo Colleoni, a member of an important family of the city and whose tomb is inside facing the entrance while a tomb and monument to his daughter Medea is on the left. The chapel is dedicated to the saints Mark, Bartholomew, and John the Baptist whose stories are depicted in the frescoes of the dome.
* Both the Chapel and the Basilica are free to enter.
For more of what to see in Bergamo, Italy keep an eye out for part two of “Visiting Bergamo, Italy”