Bergamo, City of the Thousand
Disclosure: I was there off season. Now that Bergamo is a UNESCO World Heritage, it might be more crowdy during peak season.
There is a funicular but I would recommend taking the bus because it leaves you right at the entrance of the upper town. The funicular will take you further into the city but you will miss the beautiful views from Porta S. Giacomo.
Did you know that the Republic of Venice built a defensive route going over 1000 km, from Bergamo up to Cyprus? 6 walled cities part of this route have been awarded the title of UNESCO World Heritage: Bergamo, Peschiera, Palmanova, Zadar, Šibenik, Kotor.
Built in the 16th century to protect the Venetian Republic from enemies attacks, they never underwent any siege. This explains why they remained almost intact to the present day.
Wandering around is a pure delight. Also, the sunset over the whole city is a beautiful sight.
Nevralgic centre of the old town, it is a beautiful square surrounded by amazing buildings, including 3 spectacular churches/Chapel, not to mention the Contarini Fountain.
Palazzo della Ragione
One of the first Italian “Commune Halls” built some 1000 years ago to host the city public meetings, it was used as a courthouse when the city was under the Venetian domination.
There are further surprises outside the building, more precisely under the loggia, where you will find the gnomon. This sundial was made more than 200 years ago, in 1798: when a ray of light hits the sun clock carved in the marble floor, it still marks the date and the local Noon with extreme precision!
Also known as the Campanone, it offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the old town and beyond. You can either walk up or take the lift.
Every night at 10pm the Campanone chimes one hundred time as a perennial reminder of the closure of the city gates during the Venetian domination.
Palazzo della Podesta
Often forgotten because it is in the shadow of the Campanone, the Palace of the Podestà houses Roman archaeological excavations, Renaissance frescoes and the 16th century Museum, a multimedia and interactive path made of images, sounds and suggestions well worth a visit.
Tempietto di Santa Croce
Small but beautiful octagonal Romanesque chapel.
Aula della Curia
A very discrete entrance leads to where the episcopal audiences were held.
This beautiful chapel was built between 1472 and 1476 as the personal shrine for the condottiere Bartolomeo Colleoni, a member of one of the most outstanding families of the city, and his daughter Medea.
No photos inside. It is a private monument.
Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica
Its entrance is very discrete compared to the facade of the Colleoni Chapel. This is because the basilica only has side entries.
Santa Maria Maggiore was built to thank the Virgin Mary said to protected the people of Bergamo from a plague breakout spread across Europe in early 1100. The inside decoration is beautiful.
If you have little time, I suggest you skip the duomo and visit the basilica instead.
Built in 1340 inside Santa Maria Maggiore, it was dismantled in 1661. Rebuilt twice after that, severel changes were made.
It was relocated for the last time between 1898 and 1899 on the western side of the Piazza del Duomo where it was recomposed in neo-Gothic style.
Sant' Alessandro Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral dedicated to the patron saint of the city. It is the seat of the Bishop of Bergamo.
San Michele al Pozzo Bianco
Do not miss this lovely little church next to the frescoed house of the vicar.
Chiesa di Sant'Andrea Apostolo
Do not be fooled by its simple facade, this neoclassical church is worth a visit.
Fountains and lavatory
Castello di San Vigilio
You can take the funicular to the Castello of San Vigilio.
The castel can be access freely and offers a fantastic 360° view over Berbamo and it surroundings, Alps included.
Citta Alta to Citta Bassa
The walk from Citta Alta to Citta Bassa is a really nice one.
Via Porta Dipinta
Right next to Sant Andrea, there is a small carpark with a spendid panorama over the lower town and beyond.
From the lower end of Via Porta Dipinta, you have a nice view of the Rocca.
At the end of the Via Dipinta, you will find the University housed in the beautiful Complesso San Agostino.
Pass through Porta Sant Agostino, then take the cute Scaletta della Noca.
It will lead you right next to Accademia Carrara.
Often overlooked, the lower part of Bergamo has a lot to offer.
It does look a bit messy when you arrived from the train station, but if you go explore further on both sides of the main streets, you will find charmful sights.
It is one of the main Italian picture galleries.
Around Via Pignolo & Rotonda dei Mille
I strongly recommend you stroll around these two places and in between. There are many beautiful gems in the area.
Piazza Dante , Piazza Cavour and Piazza Matteotti
Well hidden in the heart of the UBI Bank building, the Chiostra San Marta is really beautiful.
Chiesa San Bartolomeo
If there is one church to visit in the lower town, it is this one.
Via Vittorio Emanuele II
Beautiful villas and great views of Citta Alta and its walls.
Around Rotonda dei Mille
Some nice old buildings and peebles streets.
Probably the most pittoresque street in Bergamo, full of colourful palaces.
Did you know that Harlequin was from Bergamo and not from Venice?
According to the story, Zanni (from Gianni), the real name of Harlequin, moved from a little village near Bergamo to Venice in search of fortune. He settled down there and worked as a servant for the Venetian nobility. This is why Harlequin is often associated with the Venetian Comedy of Art and thought to be from Venice.