Lombardia - Places to visit - Bergamo
Situated on the edge of the outlying Orobic hills between the mouths of the Brembana and Seriana valleys, the town has two distinct urban centres: Bergamo Alta, the oldest and upper part of the town with a wealth of history and art, stands on a hill (365 m.) a hundred metres or so above the plain, where Bergamo Bassa (249 m.) lies, a busy modern industrial and commercial centre.
First a Gallic settlement, then Roman, after the Barbarian invasions, it became a free municipality in the Lombard League (12th century) before submitting to the Visconti Signoria, and from 1428 to 1796 formed part of the Venetian Republic.
In this period the town, surrounded by walls, underwent coinsiderable economic expansion. After the brief Napoleonic Cisalpine Republic (1797-1814), it became part of Lombard-Venetia until freed by Garibaldi's soldiers in 1859.
Monuments: The Colleoni chapel, masterpiece of the Lombard Renaissance (housing frescoes by Tiepolo), Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore (12th century), Palazzo della Ragione (12th century, altered in the 16th century), Duomo, Torre del Comune (tower). Though gravitating towards nearby Milan, Bergamo's economy is characterized by the presence of a well-defined industrial sector, active in engineering, textiles, chemicals, food and building materials.
Events: International jazz festival (March-April), opera season at Teatro Donizetti, international piano festival (April-June), Baroque music concerts (Autumn), `Rogo della vecchia' (Lent).
Famous People: Gaetano Donizetti (musician, 1797-1848), Costantino Beltrami (explorer, 1779-1856), Andrea Previtali (artist, 1470-1528), Gerolamo Tiraboschi (man of letters, 17311794), Bartolomeo Colleoni (military leader, 1400-1475), Pope John XXIII (the famous `Papa Giovanni', 1881-1963).
Cultural Institutions: Accademia Carrara (gallery with paintings by Mantegna, Bellini, Tintoretto, Raffaello and others), Museo Donizettiano, Museo Archeologico and Museo del Risorgimento (museums), libraries, the university.
In the Province: Dalmine (steel industry), Lovere (steel industry), Foppolo (tourism), San Pellegrino Terme (thermal spa), Treviglio, Sotto il Monte (birthplace of Pope John XXIII).