Italy: Bergamo — the secret heart of Lombardy

If you are in the North of Italy, in Lombardy, and you want to feel its spirit, then do not limit yourself to visiting Milan. Very close to it (less than an hour by local train), at the foot of the Alps, you will find the ancient city of Bergamo. Opposite Bergamo train station — the bus station with a tourist office. Here you can take a map of the city. Bergamo is divided into the Lower (New) and Upper (Old) town. The Old town is located at an altitude of 380 m above sea level. So, if you are not attracted to walking uphill (about 5 blocks, 15-20 minutes), use the funicular (1.25 euros). Two of its trailers lift up to 50 people at the same time to a height of 85 meters at an angle of 52%. The length of the path is about 240 meters.

Old Square

    The funicular will take you to the square of Shoemakers, which gives rise to 6 streets, a fan diverging on all sides. One of them, via Gambetta, will take you to the main square of the Upper town — Piazza Vecchia ( Old Square). In the corner of the square, the highest tower of the city stands — Civil (56 meters). Here the signal bell still rings a hundred times every night in memory of the times when all the city gates were closed for the night. In addition to the bell in the tower and there is an elevator, so to explore the panorama of the city it is quite possible to use. In the center of the square – a fountain with sphinxes. The water is potable, that heat is very important. The riddle about this fountain: both of its sphinxes look at the town hall, although in opposite directions. Guess? In Bergamo two town halls: their facades are located opposite each other. In the Old town hall before the justice was administered, and the City Council met in the New town hall.  

Cathedral square

Inside the church of Santa Maria Maggiore, you can come through four side entrances, two of which are called “the gate of the white lions” and “the gate of the pink lions” (columns of portals are on the sculptures of white and pink lions). The facade of the chapel of Colleoni adjoins the church from the North-West. It is fully lined with multi-colored marble slabs which form complex patterns. Inside the chapel is decorated with sculptures, paintings, frescoes, gilding. And opposite the front door is a sarcophagus of Colleoni – carved marble, with a huge number of decorative elements.

Two museums

If you continue to move, soon a little to the right you will see another square (Piazza Cittadella) with two museums — Archaeological Museum and the Museum of Natural Sciences, where some of the exhibits can be touched. And right at the entrance, you will meet a giant dinosaur. Opening hours of both museums: April-September: 9.00-12.30 and 14.30-18.00 on weekdays and 9.00-19.00 on weekends; October-March: 9.00-12.30 and 14.30-17.30. Day off — Monday. Admission is free. Back to the Lower town is better to return not by funicular, and the stairs to discover the picturesque narrow streets and look at the simple domestic scenes.   If you like the old days and you are not in a hurry, then take a walk around Bergamo longer. The city has its own atmosphere and integrity — here beats the secret heart of Lombardy.  

Evgeny Kulkov

For many years I travel and do tourism. The journeys I have made and continue to make are divided into three types. First: economy-travel with my wife and two children (rent cheap housing, self-cooking, etc.). Second: single kayak trips along the rivers of Russia with visits to small towns and historical sites (about 40 rivers). Third: hitchhiking through Europe. I also love my Moscow and know a lot about my city. All that I have accumulated during my travels and my walks around Moscow, I want to share with you.