Bergamo is a city in the foothills of the Alps with a beautifully preserved Old Town situated on the hills. It rises above the bustling and busy new part and is connected to it not only by streets, but also by a funicular railway line.
Although the first traces of settlement in the Bergamo area come from the 12th century BC, there are no ancient monuments here. The city was founded in the 1st century by the Romans on the site of a Celtic settlement, but it did not develop until the 6th century, when the Lombards established it as the capital of their country. Bergamo's heyday was during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, when the Visconti family ruled the city. It was then that most of the buildings that are now the pride of the Old Town were built.
Bergamo consists of two very different parts. The first is the Lower Town, modern and busy. Its oldest buildings date back to the 18th and 19th centuries. Among its most important monuments is the Carrara Academy, which houses a painting gallery and the GAMaC modern art gallery.
Bergamo's main attractions, however, are concentrated in the Upper Town, Citta Alta. It is located on two hills connected by funiculars. The lower one is a charming Italian town with perfectly preserved buildings from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Its central point is Piazza Vecchia, where stands, inter alia, The Palace of Reason, the New Palace and the City Tower. The Contarini Fountain occupies the central part of the square.
From the square, you are only a few steps away from the most important sacred monuments of Bergamo. It is primarily the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, one of the best examples of the Lombard Romanesque style. Its interior, however, is later, baroque, extremely rich and dripping with gold. Adjoining the basilica is the Renaissance Colleoni Chapel with the tombstones of this family. Next to it is the Renaissance Cathedral of Sant'Alessandro with its cathedral museum.
You must end your walk through the narrow streets of the Old Town on the walls of Bergamo. The city has massive fortifications that have been preserved almost throughout its perimeter. And in the streets there are plenty of restaurants, bars and handicraft shops.
Above the main part of the Upper Town rises San Vigilio Hill, which can be accessed by another funicular. There is a historic church, a citadel that now houses a park and a wonderful view of Citta Alta and the Alps looming on the horizon.