Things to do in Bergamo Italy – Bergamo is a Lombard city located at the foot of the Alps. A big peculiarity of Bergamo is that the city is divided into two parts: Bergamo Alta and Bergamo Bassa.
Bergamo Bassa is the city’s newer and more commercial part where you can find more shops.
Bergamo Alta, on the other hand, is the most historic and perhaps interesting part of the city, the one that makes the city of Bergamo truly unique. Why Bergamo Alta? The historic center of Bergamo is called Bergamo Alta precisely because this part of Bergamo is located on a hill. The center of Bergamo therefore stands out in the middle of the city. Even from afar while arriving in Bergamo by car you can see Bergamo Alta.
Table of Contents for Things to do in Bergamo Italy
Introductory video of Bergamo
In the following video you see some images of Bergamo that help you better understand what the city of Bergamo is like.
Useful information relating to Bergamo
Here is some useful information relating to Bergamo and your visit to Bergamo.
How to get to Bergamo Alta?
How to get to Bergamo Alta? You can go up to Bergamo Alta by car, paying attention to the ZTL zone (an area where you cannot access by car without permission) or you can go up comfortably with the funicular.
Below is the Google Maps position of the funicular that takes you from the lower city of Bergamo to the upper city: https://maps.app.goo.gl/Nwsd4qR9na8RgXom6. To use the Bergamo funicular you must purchase a ticket.
If you are an athletic person you can think about going up to Bergamo Alta on foot. In fact, there is precisely the street that takes you directly to Bergamo Alta on foot.
What type of shoes should I wear to visit the upper city?
To visit the upper city I recommend comfortable shoes. For women, perhaps it is better to avoid heels because there is a lot of walking and the pedestrian pavement is not smooth in all places.
What are the best things to do in Bergamo Italy?
What are the best things to do in Bergamo? Here are the best things to see in Bergamo Alta and Bergamo Bassa.
Bergamo Alta (Upper Bergamo)
To see and discover Bergamo Alta the best way is to visit it on foot. Furthermore, the center of Bergamo Alta is pedestrianised. In the center of Bergamo Alta you will find many characteristic shops, some of which have a slightly ancient flavor but with style, places where you can have a drink and an aperitif and also many restaurants where you can taste the excellent cuisine of Bergamo.
Let’s now see together what the attractions, streets and areas to visit are in Bergamo Alta.
One of the main pedestrian streets to walk is Via Gombito. Via Gombito is the street that takes you from the funicular to the main square of Bergamo Alta: Piazza Vecchia.
Piazza Vecchia (Old Square)
As soon as you arrive in Piazza Vecchia you cannot help but appreciate the beauty of this square waiting to be discovered. In Piazza Vecchia the main monuments and buildings to see are the Palazzo della Ragione, the Campanone, the 16th century museum, the baptistery, the Colleoni Chapel, the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, the Duomo and the Treasure Museum of the Cathedral.
Near Piazza Vecchia there is also an ancient wash house, the social theater and the Angelo Mai civic library.
Piazza Vecchia was fully formed in the mid-15th century with the demolition of some buildings and the incorporation of a smaller and older square where the grain and fodder market was held.
Over the centuries, Piazza Vecchia has been the representative center of the city government. In fact, you can see to the south the Palazzo della Ragione which was the ancient Town Hall and to the north the Palazzo Nuovo, seat of the municipality from 1614 to 1873 which today is home to the Civic Library. To the west there is the residence of the Podestà Veneto. The square is dominated by the Civic Tower.
In the center of the Piazza Vecchia there is the Contarini Fountain. The Contarini Fountain was donated to the city by the Venetian mayor of Bergamo Alvise Contarini. The fountain was made of local marble from the Zandobbio quarries towards the end of 1780.
Among the buildings in Piazza Vecchia, the Old Civic Tower certainly stands out above all the others and stands out. It was built at the end of the 12th century by the Suardi family and then sold to the municipality in the 13th century. It is 52.76 m high and is the tallest tower in the city.
The largest bell placed on the tower is called “il campanone”. This bell was placed on the tower not at the time of its construction but at a later time, i.e. in the 16th century. This bell marked the life of the inhabitants of the city of Bergamo in many ways. In fact, it reported council meetings, happy events, and painful events in the city.
The bell was also used as an evening warning that the city gates were closed. In this way, all those who were outside the city gates at that time could return and avoid spending the night outside.
Even today, the bell rings every evening at 10 pm and the sound at 10 pm differs from the chimes at all other times in terms of duration and intensity, to remember their ancient function.
The Tower can be visited and you can reach the top of the tower either on foot or by lift. From the top of the Civic Tower, you can enjoy an extraordinary view of the city, the Orobie pre-Alps and the Lombardy Plain.
The ticket costs five euros for each person, with a discount of three euros for visitors aged between eleven and seventeen. Children under the age of eleven can enter for free, as can people with disabilities. During the visit, you can explore the majestic Palazzo del Podestà and admire the magnificent view from the Campanone.
Our visit begins at the Palazzo del Podestà, a historic 13th-century residence that once housed the foreign podestà, guarantor of peace between the Guelph and Ghibelline factions during Venetian rule. The palace served as the administrative headquarters of Justice.
Within these walls, you take a journey through history, highlighting how the events that have marked the course of the centuries and the great discoveries, such as that of America, have influenced the balance and the way of expansion of the maritime powers, like Venice in our case.
Here the true balances and power clashes that have shaped the course of time on the world stage are revealed. We also discover the main trade exchanges that were the protagonists in the world in different historical periods and the new lands that were discovered, influencing the dominant power of the moment.
History comes to life in this place and guides us through a fascinating journey. In fact, thanks to the exhibition spaces, you will immerse yourself and dreamily relive the most significant events in the history of Bergamo. Inside, further wonders await you in the form of interactive tables, ready to involve you in a unique experience.
The visit is fascinating because, besides admiring the historic building, you can explore the different rooms set up with videos projected on the walls and interactive panels. These, placed both at ground level and in showcases, offer a complete vision of the history. For example, it explains how everything originated in Eden, and Asia was the center of the world, and how dominant powers and discoveries influenced the shifting of power and the conquest of new territories over time. Venice takes on a leading role in this exhibition context, having been a dominant and influential power here in Bergamo too.
Among the attractions on display, we also find a suggestive cartographic representation that traces a route through the territory, revealing the natural landscape made up of fields, vineyards, and ancient towns or cities that once stood between Venice and Bergamo. This projection allows us to immerse ourselves in a journey into the past, taking us back to the 14th and 15th centuries and reflecting on the many obstacles that travelers of that time could face.
Once the visit to the Palazzo del Podestà is finished we head towards the entrance to the Civic Tower to go up and admire the 360-degree panorama. If you manage to go up on a particularly clear day and at sunset you have truly done “bingo” and you will be amazed by what you will have before your eyes, just like what happened to us.
The entrance ticket costs 5 euros and also includes a visit to the majestic Palazzo del Podestà.
You can reach the bell on foot with the navigator using the following link to the location on Google Maps: https://maps.app.goo.gl/SA5eRb9dJiCoaAA38.
To climb the bell tower, you can choose between the stairs or the elevator. The latter is free, comfortable, and takes you almost to the top of the tower. However, to reach the top of the civic tower, you must walk up a short stretch of stairs, consisting of only a few steps. There are two or three flights of stairs, a bit narrow, but don’t worry, the view you can admire from the bell tower is priceless. In fact, from there you can enjoy a 360° view of the majestic mountains behind Bergamo, the city, and the Lombardy plain, a truly extraordinary experience. We recommend going up at sunset when you can admire not only the city but also the magnificent sunsets on the horizon. (Watch this short video https://youtube.com/shorts/kkmtXhDlTJ4?si=fzBOCrD0Y85p6oL6)
If the stairs that take you from the floor where the elevator arrives to the top are typical ancient stairs that are a little irregular, the stairs that can be used as an alternative to the elevator are newer and wider with smooth steps.
Do you have a few hours to spend in Bergamo and want to do something amazing?
Do you have a few hours to spend in Bergamo and want to do something amazing?
You can go up to the upper part of Bergamo, called Bergamo Alta, using the funicular (Position in Google Maps: https://maps.app.goo.gl/CpdcR92YhrW122E99). When you go out of the funicular, you’re in Bergamo’s characteristic historic center, which is full of shops, bars, and restaurants. In only 10 minutes on foot, you’re in the beautiful Piazza Vecchia. In this square is the civic tower commonly called “Campanone” (Position in Google Maps: https://g.co/kgs/Sj6T7Y). You can go up to its top to see the amazing view.
You can go up with the lift or the stairs. The lift brings you almost to the top, but you must walk up a short stretch of stairs to get to the top.
From the top of the civic tower, you can enjoy a 360° view: an extraordinary view of the city, the Orobie pre-Alps, and the Lombardy Plain.
My favorite time of the day to go up is sunset. Don’t you think it is amazing?
This is an excellent thing to do both in summer and winter. In winter, at the top of the tower can be a little bit cold and sometimes windy, but you don’t need to stay out for too long. Furthermore, the ticket also includes an interactive museum where you can stay warm inside before going out again. A good alternative option is also something tasty to eat or drink. In winter a delicious hot chocolate is always a good idea!
Via Arena is one of the oldest streets in the city and owes its name to the presence of a Roman amphitheater in the western part of the city.
The Venetian Walls are certainly one of the major attractions of the upper city of Bergamo. The Venezione Walls are an important construction from a historical and architectural point of view but not only. The Venetian Walls are also an excellent panoramic point to see the lower city and also the Po Valley from above. Given that the main characteristic of Bergamo is that of having the historic center in an elevated position, it is certainly worth going to the Venetian walls to see the panorama below.
A walk along the Venetian Walls is therefore a must during your visit to Bergamo.
The panorama along the Venetian Walls is very beautiful both during the day and in the evening. During the day you can see the entire plain below illuminated by sunlight. You can get an idea by watching this part of the video: https://youtu.be/W7t2DAB3xGE?si=bvVd1HuuFIOnO2Ox&t=86.
Instead, in the evening it is the plain itself that is illuminated by the expanses of lights from the houses and buildings. Another very beautiful time to enjoy the view is sunset time. If there are ideal conditions, observing it is exciting as you see the sky painted with the colors of yellow and red and the illuminated plain below you. Here is an example: https://youtu.be/UVVbziECYzs?si=0S6XnPfsNGZSe3_J. The video was recorded on October 15, 2023 at 6.55 pm and the place where it was recorded is the following: https://maps.app.goo.gl/wRquA1ve98Gh3KLv5.
In some points of the Venetian Walls near small gardens and especially near the Porta San Giacomo there are benches on which to sit and admire the view in relaxation.
Porta San Giacomo
Walking along the Venetian walls we arrive at Porta San Giacomo. Here’s where it is: https://maps.app.goo.gl/9exArX8tj4chMuRx7.
Porta San Giacomo is an impotent ancient gate of the upper city of Bergamo. An ancient bridge road passes through Porta San Giacomo and is therefore supported by ancient stone arches.
Crossing Porta San Giacomo and following this pedestrian street you arrive in Lower Bergamo. On the elevated stretch of road near Porta San Giacomo you can admire the Venetian Walls and the plain below from a different perspective.
Going up from San Vigilio you can also visit the Bergamo Castle.
Via Porta Dipinta
Via Porta Dipinta is another street worth seeing in Bergamo Alta because it is very characteristic. What is so special about Via Porta Dipinta? The peculiarity is that the facades are painted. The name of the street derives from the ancient medieval entrance door. This door was completely frescoed but unfortunately it was destroyed and is now no longer present.
Bergamo Bassa (Lower Bergamo)
Although the most characteristic part of Bergamo is made up of Upper Bergamo, Lower Bergamo also has squares and streets to visit.
Dante Alighieri Square
One of the main squares of Lower Bergamo where you can spend an evening is Piazza Dante Alighieri. This square is very nice as there is a beautiful fountain in the center and furthermore events or fairs are periodically organized in this square.
For example in October 2023 there was a flower fair and stalls with all the lights.
Piazza Dante Alighieri is an important square from a historical point of view as it is the square where the Sant’Alessandro fair took place. The fair took place every year at the end of August and had a fundamental importance for the development of the Bergamo economy until the mid-nineteenth century. The square was rebuilt by Piacentini in 1700 who preserved Callegari’s triton fountain, a fountain that has existed since the Sant’Alessandro fair was created.
Bordering the square there are some beautiful porticoes under which there are shops and restaurants.
Bordering Piazza Dante Alighieri we have Piazzetta Piave. Piazzetta Piave gives a nice glance if we look at it with Piazza Dante Alighieri in front of us.
The Sentierone is a garden with the appearance of a pedestrian street where you can walk and relax on the benches. Events and demonstrations are also organized in this area. For example, in October 2023 there was street food in this area.
Via XX Settembre
Via XX Settembre is the pedestrian street with shops and bars.
10 Faqs about Bergamo Italy
Here are 10 interesting answers to the same number of questions about Bergamo.
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