Italy explored – Bergamo

Colleoni Chapel
Colleoni Chapel

The novel coronavirus induced total lockdown has caused a standstill on the Streets of Nuremberg. While technically I could take my camera out on the streets (walks of single persons are still permitted), morally I’d feel kind of guilty. And on top of it, with the totally deserted streets, what’s the point of doing street photography? And with travel all but impossible in the days of closed borders and cancelled flights, this is a good point in time to revisit some older travel photographs, and allow us to travel the world virtually via our blogs. This first post takes you to the city of Bergamo in Northern Italy, today the epicenter of the horrific corona pandemic in Italy.

La Rocca and Venetian Fortifications
La Rocca Castle and Venetian fortifications

Bergamo is located about 50km east of Milan and has a beautiful, medieval old town on a hill. Città Alta, with its medieval and Renaissance buildings, cobble stoned streets and surrounded by Venetian walls (since 2017 part of the Unesco world heritage list), is tightly clustered at the top of a rocky outcrop. The best way to get there is on the funicular. It is home to Bergamo Cathedral, the Romanesque Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore and Grand Cappella Colleoni, a chapel with 18th century frescoes by Tiepolo.

Piazza Mercato Delle Scarpe
Piazza Mercato Delle Scarpe

The cable car ends in Piazza delle Scarpe, where the shoemakers’ guild once had its headquarters. Crossing the upper town on the “main street”, you reach Piazza Vecchia.

Palazzo della Ragione
Palazzo della Ragione and Contarini Fountain

A remarkable and beautiful assembly of patrician houses and the Palazzo della Ragione, the 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. 

Torre del Comune
Torre del Comune
Piazza Vecchia
Piazza Vecchia
Piazza Vecchia
Piazza Vecchia
Palazzo Nuovo
Palazzo Nuovo at Piazza Vecchia

The opposite side of Piazza Vecchia is bounded by the late-Renaissance Palazzo Nuovo, housing the municipal library. The center of the Piazza features the Contarini Fountain, decorated by Venetians lions. A café in the upper corner makes a good spot for appreciating the scene.

Archway between Piazza Vecchia and Piazza del Duomo
Archway between Piazza Vecchia and Piazza del Duomo

Through the archway at the top of Piazza Vecchia you reach the Piazza del Duomo. Here you find the splendid ensemble of Bergamo’s most impressive architectural treasures.

Piazza del Duomo - Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore
Piazza del Duomo – Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore
Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore, Capella Colleoni, Battisterio
Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore, Capella Colleoni, Battisterio

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 Santa Maria Maggiore you will find fine Renaissance choir stalls, splendid Baroque stucco work, 16th-century tapestries on the walls of the side-aisles and the tomb of world famous composer Gaetano Donizetti (Lucia di Lammermoor), a Bergamo native that is buried in this church.

Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore
Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore
Cathedral Santa Maria Maggiore
Cathedral Santa Maria Maggiore – North Portal
Cathedral Santa Maria Maggiore
Cathedral Santa Maria Maggiore – North Portal
Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore
Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore

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

Capella Colleoni
Capella Colleoni
Capella Collioni
Capella Colleoni

Opposite the chapel is the Cathedral of Bergamo, Sant’Alessandro. Built in 1459, a neoclassical facade and a dome were added in the late 19th century. Inside are paintings by Tiepolo, Previtali, and Moroni and beautiful Baroque choir-stalls.

Cathedral of Sant'Alessandro
Cathedral of Sant’Alessandro

Strolling through the narrow streets of Città Alta, you can find many more medieval churches and fountains and some beautiful views of the lower city.

Bergamo Citta Alta
Bergamo Città Alta
Fontana di San Pancrazio
Fontana di San Pancrazio
View of Citta Bassa
View of Città Bassa
Bergamo Citta Alta
The red tiled roofs of Città Alta
Parco della Rimembranza
A statue in the Parco della Rimembranza

From the Parks like the Parco della Rimembranza, you can enjoy splendid views of the red tiled roofs of the Città Alta and the Colline di Bergamo, the hills surrounding the city.

Bergamo Citta Alta
Bergamo Citta Alta
Colline di Bergamo
Colline di Bergamo

Beautiful Bergamo deserves better than to be the synonym of the epicenter of the novel coronavirus in Italy, and I can only encourage you to visit this city, once eventually things return to normal.We visited the city in 2004, when we were living in Genoa. Our hearts and prayers go out to the people of Italy that are so hard hit by the virus.

I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting these old photographs from a visit back when I was still photographing with the Minolta Dimage A1, back in the stone age of digital photography.

I hope you are all safe and, despite the current global crisis, don’t lose your creative spirits.

Wish you a great week!

Marcus

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50 thoughts on “Italy explored – Bergamo

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    1. Thanks for your kind words, Emer, so much appreciated! You live in a truly beautiful town, that we visited a few times when we lived in Genoa in the early 2000’s. Love you love letter as well! Stay safe! Marcus

  1. I was due to visit Bergamo just when it broke out there, and will most definitely be visiting when travel restrictions are lifted. These photots just make me want to go all the more!

  2. So very lovely. Definitely on my list once we get out of this whole pandemic situation – hopefully alive and well. Greetings from a new follower!

  3. Looks like a stunning city. We came to know a couple of Bergamo last year when visiting Pico in the Azores. They are safe and sound but completely confined to their apartment. Seeing a video they sent me about Bergamo and now looking at your photographs, Bergamo is high on my travel list. Love to all.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to visit and comment, Daniela. How great this couple send you a video from their beautiful city! We still have many friends in Genoa, and talking to them I know that their confinement is much graver than what we have to endure here in Germany. I’m longing for ANY travel, but know it’s still weeks away, at the best. Hope you guys are doing all right! Happy Sunday and stay safe! Marcus

      1. Dear Marcus, we are doing okay, thanks. How are you today?
        The outlook to spend summer with everybody else in densely populated Switzerland as travelling probably still won‘t be possible, gives me shivers. I long for the wilderness or at least some nature space for myself and know it is far away. But then I breathe and come back to the here and now. Luckily, we have a balcony and can see the forest. And I can tap into my photo archive anytime to dive into some wild memories.
        Fingers crossed we get out of this soon and as a humanity that cares much more.
        Happy weekend, Marcus, and look for some Ugandan market impressions on my site. Stay safe! Daniela

      2. Thanks, Daniela, appreciate your visit and your kind words and thoughts. I’m fine today, enjoying a sunny Saturday and finally taking the camera in my hands again. Will head over and check out Uganda :-)! Happy Sunday! Marcus

    1. Thanks, Steven, for your visit and kind words, so much appreciated! Loved to read your Detroit post, brought back some memories of a visit a few years ago. Happy Sunday and stay safe! Marcus

  4. Beautiful pictures 😍 I live close by but I’ve never been to visit. It’s definitely on my list for when everything will be back to normal! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to visit and comment, Christy, so much appreciated! Bergamo is always worth a visit, and we went there frequently when we lived in Genoa. Happy Sunday and stay safe! Marcus

  5. Beautiful photography of a glorious city.
    What city or village in Italy would you suggest if I am looking for the least crowded place and beautiful daffodil fields? Obviously because of the horrors of the ongoing Corona, almost all of the world is in a lockdown. But, keeping in mind the daily routine of life, is there any place you would like to suggest?

    1. To see the daffodils bloom in May, we always went to the Parco dell‘Antola in Liguria, not far from Genoa. Here is the link: https://www.loveliguria.it/itinerari-in-liguria/sentiero-dei-narcisi/

      Italy is in total lockdown, so there is nothing to visit at the moment. Once things open up again, you could consider visiting the Riviera dei Fiori (Flower Riviera), the Ligurian coast west of Genoa. Imperia and San Remo are beautiful coastal towns. Near San Remo is the beautiful Villa Hanbury with its splendid botanical garden. You find many informations on the web if you would like to spend planning for when it is safe to travel again. Thanks for visit and comment, much appreciated! Marcus

  6. Thanks so much for the virtual tour, Marcus. I’ve been digging through my archives and reminded what a spectacular world it is out there and that when this passes, we’ll be fully ready to immerse ourselves in its beauty once again.

  7. I know the feeling – I would also feel guilty to go out with the camera this days. I very much enjoyed this outing with you to beautiful Bergamo. Take care.

  8. Hi Marcus! Thanks to you, I remember what a beautiful country is Italy. Lately, only bad news from there. I love the photos, mostly ”View of Citta Bassa”. All the best!

  9. These photos brought back fond memories of my three visits to lovely Bergamo. It’s so sad to see the tragedies befalling this beautiful city now. Let’s hope it will be over soon. Stay safe Marcus. Marion.

  10. A lovely walk through this enchanting village. I pray for all my northern Italian relatives who are in the midst of this. Stay safe and well Marcus. 🙏

  11. A beautiful place for sure. I have a new appreciation for Italy since my visit last year. Thanks for sharing Marcus. Hope you and your family are well. Allan

  12. Such a beautiful city and definitely on my list of cities to visit in Italy…one day! Thank you for sharing your photos and reminding us of the beauty that will one day return….I have faith in that! Hope you are keeping safe. Here in Canada we are trying to get ahead of this horrible situation. Sending best wishes to you!

    1. Thanks, Linda, really appreciate your kind words! I also have faith that all will be well again. Although I doubt that things will clear up in time for our planned West-Canada vacation mid-June. But we are well here, and this is what counts! Stay safe! Marcus

    2. Wonderful photos. A few years back we went on a coach holiday from the UK to Lake Garda and the town of Bergamo was on the itinerary until for some reason it had been changed. We were extremely disappointed. Now I have at least visited by way of these photos until such a time when everyone can go again and life returns to normal. Thanks for sharing these.

  13. Hi Marcus, the architecture and photography are beautiful, wow! I love how your images are always well aligned too. Crooked isn’t good. All is well over here, be safe too! Blogging really shines in this awful situation doesn’t it? 😎

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