A secret in Bergamo, Italy

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I have posted a few travel blogs about Bergamo, Italy – a gorgeous city in Northern Italy with a charming historical city center that sits above the city on a hill. Bergamo is certainly one of those places you can visit multiple times.

On my last two visits to the city of Bergamo, the citta alta, to be exact, I found a secret. Keep reading to find out what it is!


When you visit Bergamo, you will inevitably see the Basilica S. Maria Maggiore which lies just behind the main piazza (or square). The Basilica also sits next to the Baptistry which is a must-see. On visiting the Basilica, you will admire the elaborate décor, marvel at the ceilings and sit to study the tapestries. Then, there is the secret which is actually the treasure of the Basilica. To the right of the apse there is a doorway to a spiral stairway that passes below 14th century frescoes and up to a small room filled with treasures of the Basilica from statues to tapestries to an ornate cross and more. The treasures are considered a mini museum of religious artifacts; however, I consider the stairway the secret treasure. I always admire frescoes, and seeing 14thcentury frescoes in good condition, is a bonus for art history buffs.

So how do you gain access the secret passage? There is a small visitor desk when you enter the Basilica which also acts as a mini store. Ask the attendant if you can buy a ticket (3 euros as of summer 2019) to see the treasure! After paying, the visitor guide will take you over to the door and allow you to ascend the secret stairway in the hidden apse. Enjoy the frescoes and admire the treasures.


Now in case you missed the previous posts about Bergamo, see below for links.

Also you can see more photos of the city on my photography website here: Travel Photography of Bergamo, Italy by Monica Goslin



Visiting Bergamo, Italy

Bergamo, Italy by Monica Goslin

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.

* See more photos of Bergamo, Italy by clicking here. 


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”