There are many steep, stepped 'staircases' ('scaletta') leading from Citta Bassa up to Citta Alta.
In the distant past the area where Citta Bassa now lies was farmland, and people walked up those 'staircases' to take their goods to the market in Citta Alta.
Many scalette still remain, wandering their way down beneath trees and alongside the gardens of the wealthy. A taste of the countryside indeed.
I decided to walk down the Vicolo del Paradiso. Paradise? Hmmm...this was a Medieval term for the area where the brothels were, but I have no evidence to prove that this is how it got its name! ;-)
But my walk down between dry-stone walls was lovely, with trees and birdsong and wild flowers, the chance to sit and read in a sunny spot with fantastic views...and in a couple of hours (I read a lot) on an Italian public holiday I only saw 2 lots of people.
It's definitely worth taking these ancient routes between the two parts of Bergamo. There are several options, and obviously walking down from Citta Alta will be much easier than walking up from Citta Bassa!
The Vicolo del Paradiso leads off Via Trei Armi (which runs parallel, but lower down than Via Delle Mura) and ends up at Via Riva Villasanto.
All the vicoli have helpful signs (in Italian) which tell you where they are going, how long they are and what the gradient is.
While strolling around some nice spots could be found all around the Citta Alta. Even if rather small the Upper Town has much to expose to those who like explorings. Who knows what else could be seen if one curiously peek in every inner yard.
Well, I didnt catch the name of this palace and have no idea what it represents. According to Italian flag, rising on it, there must be seat of some government institution or maybe its the local Prefettura (the Police Headquarters). I hope someone who knows will tell me more about.
People from the Province of Bergamo speak Italian, of course, but if they using local dialect even other Italians will have problems to understand them. If you see inscription "Berghem de Sura" or you hear locals telling it, at first you wont have idea what it is but they will politely tell you it is how the locals call Citta Alta.
I Bergamaschi (citizens of the province) are very big patriots but they hate Rome with affection, not the city of Rome however, they hate what Rome is representing as the political power. Most of locals, without any hesitation, will say "Roma landrona", which means Rome is the thieve. There excist very strong movement call Padania, and it has seat in the city of Bergamo. The basic political programe of Padania is the constitution of Italy as an federal state with strong authonomy of each of the states.
Paolina Secco Suardo Grismondi (1746-1801) was Italian poet very much admired in Italy and France for her outstanding culture and personal beauty. She was born and married in Bergamo for cont Grismondi. Paolina Grimondi entered in the famous Accademy dell'Arcadia as Lesbia Cidonia. Under that name she is better known for her poetic works.
They say, curiosity killed the cat, but it is rewarding those who tend to see more then major sighty only. City tour guides could be usefull in case of short time visiting but they never take visitors off of the outlined plan. Sometimes, after coming back home and checking other experiences, one who was guided in certain city-tour could ask him/herself, was I really there?
Bergamo, as most of other Italian cities, should be explored in several different occasions. I was in Bergamo few times so far and each time have discover something new what I never saw before. If you like and enjoy in slow food, should explore Bergamo exactly in the same way.
One should stop subjacent the hill and admiring architecture of Citta Alta which overlooking the town of Bergamo, called Citta Bassa. The most of Citta Alta is fortified by the medieval walls built during Venetian rules over Bergamo. Certain buildings inside of the Citta Alta doesn't look so attractive as they look it observed from the town itself, or Citta Bassa.
The church of San Pancrazio is situated on the homonymous small quare which is practically immersed into Via Gombito. It is small but beautiful medieval building built probably around 1000. The church was rebuilt in 1450 in Gothic style but not much has remained from its medieval architecture except for the fine entrance. Later on, in 1750, the church was completely rebuilt and changed it style into Baroque.
Fontana di San Pancrazio, situated in Via Gombito, is also called "Baccio di Giacinto" (the kiss of Giacinto). It was built in 1549 by the Venetian Republic soon after regained dominance of Bergamo. The fountain, made of the marble from Zandobbio, is work of Venetian architect Leonardo Cleri (son of famous Pietro Isabello). The rectangular basin of the fountain had to be replaced at the end of 18th century, since during Napoleon rules it was ordered to be destroyed all coats of arms of previous dominance by the Serenissima.
Lavatoio di via Lupo (Public wash in Lupo street) was built at the end of 19th century in order to compensate for the lack of running water in the houses of Citta Alta. At that time almost all houses were built with very poor sanitary conditions. The cholera epidemic of 1884 and the alarm of the action of water quality in Citta Alta, which the doctors had indicated as the primary cause of the spread of typhoid, created motiffs for great preocupation. The resurgence of the disease manifested itself with punctual regularity.
The public wash was in use up to mid of 20th century, surviving in the years after a hasty decision to shoot it down.
During my first visit to Bergamo, I passed by this memorial many times as it was near to my accommodation, and by the lower funicular station.
Antonio Locatelli was born in Bergamo on 17th April 1895. He was a WW1 hero, flying many dangerous missions, escaped imprisonment in Austria disguised as an Austrian soldier, he returned a hero.
After the war , he continued his love of flying - being the first to fly over the Andes. He also attempted to fly over the Atlantic, but his engine failed.
He was the only Royal Air Force pilot to be awarded the Gold Medal for Valour 3 times. The Memorial originally was planted with 3 cypress trees to represent the 3 medals, but they soon died.
He was elected to Parliament from 1924-28. As a journalist, he became director of The Bergamo Magazine, and became Mayor of Bergamo from 1933-34
He was killed in action in Ethiopia on 27th June 1936.
Besides his aviation and journalistic skills, Locatelli was a keen mountaineer - he was honoured by the Bergamo Mountaineering branch of The Italian Mountaineering Club. He was also recognised as a photographer and Explorer.
One of his planes was donated to the Museo Storico, and his sister donated photos and articles to the Angelo Maj library (Piazza Vecchia, Citta Alta)
Perhaps Locatelli would have received more recognition if he hadn't been a member of the Fascist Party.
He did have his name immortalised in the name of Bergamo airport - Orio al Serio, Antony Locatelli Airport, although I'm sure that many people who fly in an out of this busy airport aren't aware of the alternative name, let alone who Locatelli was.
I'm still trying to find out more information about this memorial - who designed it, when etc?
UPDATE - I'm very Grateful to Lucia Milesi from Bergamo Tourist Info Office, who kindly searched this information, after reading my tip and questions.
So, the Monument was built in 1956, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the death and last gold medal to Locatelli.
The sculptor is Antonio Berti,who was born in Valdifiorana 24th August 1904, and studied at the Institute des Beaux -Arts in Florence
The Fountain was designed by the architect Aldo Piantanida.
It can be seen on Viale Vittorio Emanuele, Bergamo 24122, at the top of Via Locatelli , to the right of the lower funicular station.
One for Trivia fans - Harlequin originated in Bergamo! (Although the French argue that Arlequin is from France)!
This statue caught my eye , while wandering around the Christmas Market in Piazzale Alpini next to the Tourist Information office- Although I'd been to Bergamo a few times, I hadn't noticed this before. An amusing modern sculpture of brass and coloured enamelled? squares on a marble plinth, with this inscription in 3 languages - Italian, English and I'm guessing Bergamasque
"They call me Harlequin I'm a little mischievious and cunning Near Bergamo I was born, Throughout the world I'm known"
Typically, Bergamo isn't awash with Harlequin references, well not that I've spotted yet!
Recognised by his colourful patched costume, Harlequin is the most popular of the characters in the Italian Commedia dell'arte. He's a 2nd man-servant, always hungry, having no money, but surviving by his wit and character, to 'get one over' on those who look down on him, and treat him as an idiot. He's portrayed with acrobatic and dance like movements, which would seem to be at odds with accusations that he's slow and stupid.
A felt hat with a hares tail, belt with a polenta spoon, large flat unshod feet, a shaved head, with a bump on his forehead and a sooty face (or half mask) complete his costume. Fun is also made of the distinctive Bergamo dialect.
The Brighella (the hood winking first servant) also originated in Bergamo, but in Upper Alta, and not 'the stinking stagnant marshes of lower Bergamo'(thought to be Borgo Canale) where Harlequin lived (having been born in the nearby valleys, but being lured to the lower town by the chance to work - probably more like heavy labour). Harlequin and Brighella are known as the Two Zanis.
The first mention of Harlequin is of one Alberto Naselli from Bergamo in 1572. The first pictorial evidence is from a painting by Porous the Elder in 1570.
Click here for more about Harlequin and The Commedia dell'arte
Looking at the Basillica Santa Maria Maggiores, architecture, it might be easy to miss these simple metal bars fixed onto the wall (walk to the left of the doorway with the Lions) and follow the wall - you'll soon find these iron bars, of different lengths, that are old measuring devices. They date back to the Middle Ages.
If you look closely, you can see writing and marks (pic 2) on the bars.
The Piazza Duomo was once Bergamos Commercial Centre.
Luigi Angelini, an historian, specialising in Ancient Bergamo, discovered that grooves cut into the sandstone of the Basilica, corresponded to the ancient measures, used in Bergamo during Medieval times.
As the settlement was an important trading centre, these measures were most likely used by cloth and textile merchants, who are thought to have traded in the Mercato delle Scarpe, before it became the shoemakers square.
From Piazza Mercata delle Scarpe (The square outside the funicular station) Via Rocca is the narrow street to the right, just before Via Gombito begins. This street leads to the fortress of Rocca.
Take a look at the medieval houses on the right hand side of the street - You'll see that there are blocked in/walled up openings next to the main door.
These are known as 'The Walls of the Dead' They were only opened up on the day of the funeral of the family member who'd lived there, so that the coffin could be passed through! This could be the origin of the phrase "At Deaths Door"
Apparently, behind these doors are steep, straight staircases leading to the upper floor.
There is some thought that these were also opened up to allow a brides chest to exit the house - this was considered to be the most important piece of furniture, and was usually kept for safety on the upper floor.
I'm still not sure why these couldn't pass through the (wider) door - I'm guessing superstition has a part to play here?
These houses are inhabited by members of MIA - a charity association that was founded in 1265 by Pinamonte da Brembate.
Again, I only wandered here because I was seeking suitable restaurants.
It's the furthest 'borgo' I explored from Citta Alta and, logically, thus contains fewer buildings of historical interest for me. But even so I found it fascinating.
Lots of little bars, cafes and restaurants and 'ordinary' shops. Friendly people too: I got chatting (of a sort..she had no English and my Italian is poor) with a Ukrainian lady who told me she had visited Bergamo for a year and ended up staying for 10!
I bought a cake or two, and some rolls, from a lovely bakery/pasticcheria...the owner who served me was also very friendly and pleasant.
As with Borgo Santa Catarina I really just followed the main road...Via Borgo Palazzo..rather than explore the side-streets.
Borgo Palazzo seemed to me very much like an ordinary area with ordinary people. I'd like to explore more next time, even if the historical interest is less than elsewhere in Bergamo.