Located in the beautiful Northern Italian region of Lombardy, Bergamo is easily accessible from Orio al Serio airport, and is only about an hour's drive from Milan. It is divided into two distinct parts: the old, walled city, Bergamo Alta, sits at the top of the hill, above Bergamo Bassa, the modern part of the city.
In its long history, Bergamo has been an Estruscan fort, a Roman settlement, a Lombard duchy, and an independent city, as well as part of the Venetian Republic, the French Cisalpine Republic, the Austrian Empire, the Kingdom of Italy, and finally the modern Italian Republic. It was also one of the few Italian cities not to sustain major damage in World War II, which means that much of the medieval city of Bergamo Alta is still intact.
Fontana Piazza Vecchia
Bergamo Alta, the upper city, is encircled by Venetian walls built in the 17th century. Inside the walls, a wealth of medieval and Renaissance piazzas, churches and other sites await. For example, the bell of the 11th century Torre del Campanone (Bell Tower), also known as the Torre Civica, was nearly melted down by the Germans in World War II, but still rings every night, tolling 100 times at 10 PM. The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, begun in the 12th century on the site of a 7th century church, is known for its octagonal dome and the tomb of Gaetano Donizetti, the composer of Lucia di Lammermoor.
Bergamo Bassa, the lower city, is the home of two major art galleries - the Pinacoteca dell'Accademia Carrara, which houses paintings from the 15th through the 19th century, and the Galleria d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea (GAMEC), which is dedicated to modern and contemporary art.
In the 14th century, Petrarch wrote: "I shall always remember the image of Bergamo, Italy's alpine town." Nearly 700 years later, Bergamo has lost none of its charm.