BERGAMO, “THE LAND BATHED BY THE SERIO AND FLOODED BY THE BREMBO

That is how Torquato Tasso the Italian poet described the Lombard city, which is also characterised by the clear split between its high and low parts.

History

The first settlements in the city go back to the Celtic period and were facilitated by the city\'s position on the transit line for trade among Brescia, Como and Milan. In this way, the pre-conditions were created for denser and denser human settlements, culminating in the assignment of "municipium civium romanorum".  In this period, Bergamo became highly important and public and religious buildings were constructed, such as the amphitheatre, the forum, the spa, the capitolium and the necropolis.  In 401 the numerous barbaric invasions began by the Huns, Vandals and the Alans, then Begamo returned to a period of stability after it was conquered by the Lombards, which turned it into the most important Dukedom of northern Italy.  Before it was conquered by the Austrians, in 1428 Bergamo was subjected by the Republic of Venice, which modified its strategic aspect, making it a place of transit along the border. The Venetians also built the muraine, a defensive boundary wall, and divided the city into two: the agrarian community high above, and the periphery for the general population down below. These walls influenced the economic growth of the city and gave it its present day appearance, which is now still split into high Bergamo and low Bergamo.

The city and its monuments

Bergamo is a very particular city, both due to its position - surrounded by pretty countryside between the majestic mountains and the expanse of the valleys - and to its splitting in two.  Furthermore, the city offers visitors the enchanting view of the imposing Venetian boundary wall which, to this day, encloses it, making it one of the most beautiful walled locations in Italy. Worthy of note are the monuments that enrich the city especially the high part:  the Piazza Vecchia, which forms a monumental centre, with a splendid XVIII century fountain; the town-hall tower and the Colleoni Chapel, which Bartolomeo Colleoni had built - a splendid work in XVIII century style.  Of great interest in low Bergamo is the Accademia Carrara Art Gallery founded in the XVIII century and reputed to be Italy\'s richest art gallery, with over 1,700 paintings, numerous collections and masterpieces of celebrated artists such as Botticelli, Bellini, Raffaello and others.  Monuments from the middle ages can also be visited, they include: Santa Maria Maggiore, Palazzo della Ragione, the Loggia, Piazza del Duomo (cathedral) and the nobiliary Towers. The Bergamo renaissance saw some important architects involved in new buildings, including the construction of the New Cathedral, the creation of the frescos of the Palazzo Podestarile and the New Vestry of Santa Maria Maggiore.

The geographical area

The province of Bergamo has many areas that differ from each other: from the intensely cultivated fertile countryside, to the valleys leading up to the glaciers, passing through green hills. The most remarkable places are the Brembo valley, with towns such as Carona, a tourist centre with new ski-lifts, and Foppopolo, known as the most important and well equipped of the entire valley and, finally San Simone. There are many natural elements in this territory: the Adda river which marks the border with Brescia, lake Iseo and the Oglio river in the east, Valtellina in the north and the Po Valley in the south. The Bergamo side of Lake Iseo is a countryside of unique beauty. It is a rough, wild place with very steep crags and mountainsides, ruins of ancient castles built to defend the territory, small villages taking refuge, lonely small ports and fishermen\'s houses. Toward the south, the climate is milder, and the vegetation changes to the mixed sections of Mediterranean countryside, with olive and oleander trees, and typical areas of pre-Alpine lakes with woods of evergreen trees. Further south, the landscape changes even more, becoming typically valley-like in appearance, with stretches of forage, farmhouses where livestock are reared and villages with low houses and large piazzas to accommodate the market.