Città Bassa, Bergamo
The Porta Nuova (New Gate) is one of the main landmarks of the lower town (Citta Bassa) of Bergamo. (I use it often as one of my landmarks for directions to other sites in my tips)
It is considered to be the hub of the lower town. One of the main boulevards in Bergamo is Viale Papa Giovanni XX111, which leads from near the train station, to this Portal.
I was pleased that I could see this gateway from my hotel window (Best Western), with the old Upper Town (Citta Alta) in the background.
This was the site of one of the gates of the Muraine, which was a city wall. This enclosed part of the lower town and the Borghi (groups of buildings that had developed along the roads that linked Bergamo with Its Valleys and the cities of Venice, Milan and Como.
In ancient times, each August, the Sant' Alessandro Fair was held, and the gateway had originally been built to allow easier access to this event for all of the tradespeople, entertainers, travellers, animals etc that the fair attracted.
During the 18th century, gates were fixed between the propylaea, which were locked at night, to protect the city from criminals!
The gateway seen today was constructed in 1837. The 2 neoclassical buildings flanking the gateway are the Propylaea or columned atriums, which, I guess were modelled on the Parthenon in Athens. They were used as a customs and excise checkpoint until the beginning of the 20th Century. A toll being charged here to enter the city. (A year later, the road, which today is called Viale Papa Giovanni XX111 was constructed, in celebration of the visit by Ferdinand 1, when it was named the Ferdinandea Road.)
The one on the left, near the Torre Dei Caduti War Memorial (The Clocktower), contains a flower shop, which you can smell before you see it! Lovely perfumes from the plants and bulbs. I would have liked to have purchased a bunch of flowers to take home, but sadly, they wouldn't have survived my plane journey.
The Right hand temple contains the office of the Atb (local bus company) where you can purchase tickets, check time-tables etc.
The Torre Dei Caduti was inaugerated in 1927, and was originally supposed to have the figures of 2 Moors striking the hours. This was inspired by the Tower in St Marks Square in Venice. I'm not sure why this plan changed.
Between this ancient entrance to the town, and the Old Upper Town (Citta Alta), is the entrance to the Sentierone. (Please see my next tip)
Gaetano Donizetti, is another of Bergamos famous citizens- Born here 29th November 1797, he studied music in his home city, before moving to Naples and then Paris. Bergamo was never far from his thoughts, and he returned here to die on April 8th 1848.
Throughout Bergamo you will find reminders of his life here - this statue probably gives some idea of how proud the people of Bergamo were of 'their son'.
It is located in a small park adjacent to the Gaetano Donizetti Theatre,
In 1897, on the centenary of his birth, the Theatre was dedicated to Donizetti, and the statue was inaugurated.
The statue was created in 1897 by F. Jerace. The original plaster model is to be found in the Gaetano Donizetti Museum in Citta Alta. (Housed in the Palazzo Della Misericordia Maggiore)
This broad tree lined Avenue, with its arched buildings is found between the Porte Nuova and the Upper Town. It is considered to be the main road of Lower Bergamo. It was the original Main Street of the New Town.
From 908AC until around 1850, a market or fair had been held in this area of Bergamo. The Fair of S. Alessandro was first recorded as taking place in 908AC. It developed through the centuries as an important trading centre, especially in silk, which was treated here before being exported to London, then Lyon in France.
During the Venetian occupation the first 8 days of the fair goods brought into the city were tax free, then a 50% tax reduction for the following 4 days.
By the 18th century, merchants had established themselves in this area. In 1732, they collected funds, in order to convert some wooden warehouses into around 210 stone shops. They were successful in gaining approval for this project from Doge Carlo Ruini 3 years later.
A grand square building was constructed (in the area of the Sentierone and the Palace of Justice). with 4 towers that housed The Health Tribunal, the Fair Curators, The Magistrate of Provisions and the Tribunal of Justice
12 entrances (3 on each side) led to 540 shops! A central attraction was a fountain (which can be seen in Piazza Dante) - A for runner of our modern shopping malls?
The Sentierone extends to the east along Via Tasso, and to the west, along one of Bergamos most fashionable shopping streets - Via XX Settembre.
Nowadays, It has become a popular place for the Bergamasque to promenade during the evenings and at weekends. A place where friends meet up, families show off their babies, and you get to see the Italian sense of style!)
You can also stroll the spacious gardens of the Sentierone, which were re -designed in the1920s by architect Marcello Piacentini, with loggias, porticos and tree-lined piazzas. (I'm afraid that we didn't have time to stroll around the gardens)
We spent a late night in one of the trendy bars (Bar Code 212) on the Saturday, which is located in the old stone archways.
The next morning we wandered along this way again, and continued along Via Tasso. It was the weekend before Easter, so it was interesting to watch the smartly dressed churchgoers, chatting in groups, some carrying olive branches.
There was a lovely atmosphere, and we were enjoying wandering about in the sunshine so much, that we nearly lost track of time, and had to run back to our hotel to grab our cases before just catching the bus back to the airport.
Porta Nuova, the “new city gate”, never actually served as a defensive or toll collecting structure. It was built in 1937 as part of the city renovation plans applied to Bergamo in fascist times. So, coming from the train station, Porta Nuova is more a symbolic gate into the city center of Bergamo. It is now the home of the tourist information center. The Square of Porta Nuova is the main traffic point of Bergamo with almost all bus lines calling there.
This tower was planned as a civic belltower for the new town (Città Bassa) and ianugurated in 1924. I know that it looks much older, but at least that was what I did understand: Built in 1924. After a couple of years, the tower was dedicated to the fallen soldiers of Bergamo and since then, the belltower is used for several town ceremonies and festivities.
Citta Bassa as the name implies is the lower but modern city of Bergamo that was laid out in the twentieth century. While the old city up on the hill maintains and preserve its historical value, the lower city has transformed into a modern centre developed on the plain with its small firms and industries.
Though Citta Bassa is modern in its own right, it has been part of the old Bergamo history and is worth a visit. Afterall we will never find it anywhere, Citta Bassa can only be in Bergamo. See the photos I have posted taken from the upper city.
The neo-Classical styled local theatre, founded in 1786, is dedicated to the famous Bergamask Maestro Gaetano Donizetti, born here in 1797.
In front of the theatre stands the monument to the Maestro, erected in 1897, in the centenary year of the birth of this great musician. The ahthor is Francesco Jerace, a Calabrian sculptor.
The 45 metre Torre dei Caduti rises on Piazza Vittorio Veneto, it is the first sight of the city one notice entering in between two large suburbs, the Borghi - Borgo Pignolo to the east and Borgo San leonardo to the west.
This is the point from which you can start your walk tour towards magnificient Citta Alta.
The 17th century marble facade of the church of San Alessandro della Croce dominates in whole Via Pignarola.
The facade dates back to early 20th century and was added to the internal structures built and decorated between the 17th and 18th centuries upon the perimeter of the previous church. The marble altar is of great interest. The whole altar is inlayed by Andrea Fantoni in 1728. The same goes for the large paintings by Enea Talpino from 1621.
Although the Lower Bergamo comes in far second, it would still be unjustified to just ignore it. After all, it has some splendid buildings too! Placed right at the foot of the Citta Alta hill, this church (whose name is yet to be Googled out) charmed me with its fine architecture, especially the philligranic towers.
The Chiesa di San Marco dates from the 15th century. Additions to the building took place in the following three centuries.
The central position of the Citta Bassa( lower part) of Bergamo, is on the main road leading upto the furniculour and has the tourist info on it aswell
Some eye-catching details somewhere along the way to Lower Bergamo. These skeletons look way convincing.