Best Things To Do In Bergamo, Italy: A Tale Of Two Cities

things to do in bergamo italy

Bergamo is a city in Eastern Lombardy, Italy, and is one of the most northern cities. It has a population of 120,000 people making it the fourth-largest city in Lombardy. Bergamo’s metropolitan area is part of the Milan metropolitan area, which is home to over 8 million people. Bergamo is the second most visited city in Lombardy after Milan. The city overlooks the southern plains with breathtaking views.

It is split into two city centers, “Città Alta,” or upper city, which is a hilltop medieval town, surrounded by 16th-century defensive walls, and the “Città Bassa,” or lower city. Both centers are connected through cable cars, footpaths, and roads, and have a lot to offer with museums, landmarks, architecture, and style.

1. The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore is one of Rome’s four major Basilicas, and it’s important because of its size, age, and the fact that it is the largest church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It is also one of the oldest basilicas. Its architectural details span more than a thousand years, and its main layout has remained unchanged from when it was first built in the 5th-century. This makes it one of the finest surviving examples of an early Christian churches. Its interior is adorned with artistic and religious treasures including various relics, stone-work and the tomb of Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

One of the church’s main draws and its most prized relic is the manger or crib that used to hold Jesus Christ when he was born. This is kept in a crystal reliquary under the high altar known as the Crypt of the Nativity. The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore is still a place of worship and holds mass through the week.

Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

Address: Piazza Duomo, 24129 Bergamo BG, Italy

Website: Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

2. The Bergamo Cathedral

The Bergamo Cathedral has a Latin cross ground plan and is a Roman Catholic Cathedral that is dedicated to Saint Alexander of Bergamo, who is the patron saint of the city. It houses numerous artifacts such as goblets, crosses, and the Tiara of Papa Giovanni XXIII. This object is one of the most treasured items and it is made out of gold, pearls, rubies, diamonds, and emeralds on a silver mesh.

Bergamo Cathedral

Address: Piazza Duomo, 24129 Bergamo BG, Italy

Website: Bergamo Cathedral

3. The Cappella Colleoni

Capilla Colleoni (Bérgamo Alta, Italia)
Source: Photo by Flickr user Javier Carmona used under CC BY 2.0

It has been noted that the Cappella Colleoni is one of the most impressive buildings in Bergamo. Its facade is made out of red and white marble, its interior holds some incredible works of art, and throughout the property is wood carved benches. The style of the Cappella Colleoni Church is an octagonal dome, lantern cusp, and polychrome marbles.

Cappella Colleoni

Address: Piazza Duomo, 24129 Bergamo BG, Italy

4. The core of the Citta Alta

Bergamo, Piazza Vecchia
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Steffen Schmitz used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Piazza Vecchia represents the core of Città Alta. It is one of the most popular places for citizens to meet up with friends. With its unexpected geometric opening, it has alleyways and narrow streets leading to it, and it’s a wonderful spot to sit and admire the beauty of Città Alta.

Piazza Vecchia

Address: Piazza Vecchia, 24129 Bergamo, Italy

Website: Piazza Vecchia

5. The spirit of Bergamo

Borgo Santa Caterina, Bergamo
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Andrj15 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Borgo Santa Caterina has been described as the spirit of Bergamo with its bright windows, shops and its historical buildings. It is a very lively area, especially in the summertime when they have festivals and events happening. It is a perfect harmony of the past, present, and innovation as you look around and enjoy a traditional Bergamo dinner or a coffee at a cafe in the afternoon.

Borgo Santa Caterina

Address: Borgo Santa Caterina, 24124 Bergamo, Italy

Website: Borgo Santa Caterina

6. Eastern end of the Citta Bassa

Chiesa di San Bartolomeo, Bergamo
Source: Photo by user Kweedado2 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

The Church of Saints Bartolomeo and Stefano, is located at the end of the eastern end of the Sentierone promenade. The church provides the backdrop to Citta Basta. The church from the outside has different construction periods. The façade is done in a baroque style, the portico on the left was renovated in 1942, and the side overlooking the Tasso was made during the 19th-century. Inside there are some beautiful 18th-century frescoes, and it is difficult not to be drawn straight to the magnificent altarpiece; Madonna with Child and Saints painted in 1513.

Church of S. Bartolomeo

Address: Via Torquato Tasso (In town, distinguishable by context) - Sentierone, Bergamo, Italy

Website: Church of S. Bartolomeo

7. Right in the middle

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Geobia used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Borgo Pignolo is placed in between Bergamo Alta and Bassa. The beauty of Borgo Pignolo is that it allows the mix of ancient art with contemporary art, with the succession of art galleries and shops. Borgo Pignolo from Bergamo has been nicknamed the “Village of Knowledge”; The Alta has the headquarters of the Department of Humanities of the University of Bergamo. The bassa has an incredibly picturesque sequence of Renaissance palaces, craft workshops, and historic houses, one being the most prestigious venues in the city, the beautiful Palazzo Agliardi.

Borgo Pignolo

Address: 24121 Bergamo, Province of Bergamo, Italy

8. The historical lower section of Citta Bassa

Chiesa di Sant'Alessandro della Croce
Source: Photo by user Nazasca used under CC BY-SA 4.0

The medieval street of Bergamo links the Citta Bassa at the beginning of the Citta Alta. You will then come to a clearing that stands the church of St. Alexander of the Cross. It was named “the Cross” because it was built at the intersection of four medieval villages. It has some of the most significant pieces of art in Bergamo, which are the two works by Gian Battista Moroni; “Coronation of the Virgin” and the “Crucifixion with Saints Sebastian, Giovan Battista.” Inside the first of three chapels, there is the empty urn of the tomb of St. Alexander. His remains are now kept in the Cathedral of Bergamo. In the second chapel is the altar completely composed of precious marble, carved and polychrome. It was painted by Andrea Fantoni in 1729, and it’s considered to be unique for its expression of great craftsmanship.

St. Alexander of the Cross

Address: Via Masone, 23, Bergamo, 24121, Italy

Double identity

Bergamo’s defining feature is its double identity. The ancient, medieval feel of Upper Town, Città Alta, a tangle of tiny streets, up on a hilltop that is surrounded by Venetian walls, largely towers over the modern Lower Town, Città Bassa, which has more of a modern, bright feel with restaurants, shops and bars. Both areas of Bergamo will give your vacation a twist on two cities.

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