15 Best things to do in Bergamo (Italy)

Bergamo is a unique city located in the Lombardy region of northern Italy, characterized by its upper and lower parts separated by a huge Venetian wall. With a population of 120,000, the city is the fourth largest in the region, with a metropolitan area of ​​500,000. Bergamo is home to the busy Caravaggio International Airport, a major transportation hub for Italy and Europe, and an important economic center for Lombardy.

During the Middle Ages, Bergamo was the seat of the Lombard Principality, and it became a city of great wealth due to the vast treasures stored there. As an independent city, Bergamo was part of the Lombard Confederation, and in the 12th century an army was called up against Frederick I Barbarossa. In the 19th century, the city actually became part of the Austrian Empire before being integrated into the Kingdom of Italy.

As a tourist destination, Bergamo has a wonderful mix of historic buildings such as the Church of Colleoni, as well as a peculiar double-height city, as well as numerous ornate squares and high-quality shopping streets. In addition, the city’s proximity to Milan makes it an ideal base for exploring this region of northern Italy.

Let’s explore the best things to do in Bergamo:

1. Old Square

old square

This delightful square is one of the main attractions of the historic Bairro Alto, and a great place to start your Bergamo tour after a cable car ride.

Piazza Vecchia is surrounded by a series of beautiful buildings, including the Campanone Torre Civica, the ornate Palazzo della Ragione and the central decorative fountain.

This charming square often hosts various events, as well as a range of cafés and restaurants, where you can enjoy quality meals and the pleasant Italian weather.

Many of the old town’s main attractions revolve around the square, so it’s one of the easiest places to get your bearings.

2. St. Mary’s Cathedral

St Mary's Cathedral

On the south side of the Old Square, through a small ornate arch, is the wonderful Cathedral of St. Mary Major.

Originally built in the early 12th century, the church was not completed until the 14th century due to the church’s financial problems.

The facade of the church is overly decorated, with a huge central ornate window above a 3D cube design made of coloured marble.

In addition, the church features two decorated porticoes that contain marble arches and detailed statues of various Italian saints.

Inside the cathedral, you’ll be struck by the amount of detail and decoration, with the ceilings and arches covered in gold and colorful frescoes.

3. Colleoni Church

Colleoni Church

Fixed to the right of the cathedral is the chapel of Colleoni, dedicated to Mark, John the Baptist and Bartholomew.

This chapel was a later addition to the cathedral and was built after completion.

The facade of the chapel is spectacular and features a series of colorful decorations in cream and pink.

The coronation church is a large dome topped by a hexagonal spire.

Inside the chapel is a sacred altar dedicated to the three apostles and features their statues as well as various ornate religious icons.

4. Major St Mary’s Baptistery

St Mary's Basilica Baptistery

The final notable structure of St. Mary’s Basilica is the unique Baptistery.

This strange structure is located to the north of the cathedral and has an octagonal shape.

Due to this design feature, it is odd as it was not a common element of architecture from this period.

Also, the Baptistery was actually located inside Bergamo Cathedral, but was moved outside in 1659. The marvelous design of this structure is impressive, and inside the baptistery is a series of religious bas-reliefs representing the life of Christ.

5. Bergamo City Gate

Porta San Giacomo

The old town of Bergamo is surrounded by a stunning series of Venetian walls, and despite their age, several gates are still intact today.

The most striking of these gates is Porta San Giacomo – a dazzling white mahogany marble gatehouse built in the 16th century as part of the city’s defensive walls.

Separated by a series of ornate columns, the gate is truly impressive and a testament to the city’s historical influence.

Walk along the arched walkway to the gate and you can overlook the modern city of Bergamo and the wider countryside.

6. Roca Museum

Roca Museum

To the north of the main part of the Venetian city walls, the Rocca Museum is housed in an old defensive fortress, complete with round towers and huge stone walls.

Inside the walls is the Museo del Risorgimento e della Resistenza, dedicated to the formation of the Kingdom of Italy and the struggle of nations for independence.

Also, from the top of the battlements, you can see for miles around and overlook Bergamo’s modern center.

Also, there is a beautiful park below the fortress, which is a great place to walk through.

7. Bergamo Venetian Walls

Bergamo Venetian Wall

As already mentioned, the old city of Bergamo was once surrounded by a series of huge defensive walls.

Much of this defensive network still exists today, and it is possible to walk along parts of these Venetian buildings.

The walls, built in the 15th and 16th centuries, have a typical star-shaped design, with spires at regular intervals.

Today, if you walk along the Viale Della Mura, which surrounds the old town on three sides, you can see several sections of the city wall.

Probably the most impressive section of the wall can be found on the east side of Porta San Giacomo, lined with a series of trees – from here you can admire the building and overlook the modern part of Bergamo.

8. Museo di Scienze Naturali e Archeologico

Museo Di Scienze Naturali E Archeologico

The Museum of Natural Sciences and Archaeology is located at the extreme northwest end of the historic old town of Bergamo.

For those who love the natural world and ancient history, this hotel is a real treat.

In the halls of this building you will find a large and varied collection of artifacts and artifacts.

Topics covered include finds from the Roman city’s past, such as mosaics, stele inscriptions, and pottery.

In addition, there is a collection of historic weapons, coins, jewelry and everyday household items.

Each exhibit is well presented and has tons of detail about the history and usage of the objects.

9. Piazza Matteoti

Piazza Matteoti

Piazza Matteotti is located in the heart of the modern town of Lower Bergamo and is one of the most beautiful and famous sights.

Located on Via Roma, this huge square has a lot of open space and contains some fine buildings, including the Torre de Cardutti, the Gaetano Donizetti Theatre, and the Church of Santa Maria.

In addition, there are two wonderful monuments in the square – the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II and the Monument to Alpatigiano.

Most of the square is shaded by beautiful trees, and the surrounding streets are also home to various cafes, restaurants and shops.

10. Carrara College

Carrara College

Housed in an old historic palace, the Accademia Carrara is a stunning building whose exterior is as interesting as the art collection inside.

The museum is located north of modern Bergamo, near Piazzale Gulielmo Oberdan and Parco Suardi.

Inside this monumental building is an impressive collection of works by Italian artists such as Lorenzo Lotto, Biovani Bellini, Titan, Paolo Veronce and Sandro Po ticelli.

11. On the road of ancient Rome

Due to Bergamo’s ancient history, several fine Roman roads were built here, which you can still walk on today.

The two main Roman roads are il Cardo and il decumano – il Cardo or Cardo Maximus has always been the main street of Roman towns and is where most trade and commercial activity takes place.

At the crossroads next to the huge Torre del Gombito you can find two sections of the Roman road and walk along the cobblestones.

12. Shop at the popular Via XX Settembre

by XX Settembre

Bergamo’s old town has some amazing historic buildings, while the new lower town has some great shopping opportunities.

Via XX Settembre is one of the city’s central streets, known for its many high street shops.

If you want to relax and enjoy some retail therapy, this street is the place for you! The shops on the street are Zara, Mango, Pandora, Swatch, Swarovski and Falconeri to name a few.

13. Milan day trip

Milan

Located in the northeast of Milan, Bergamo is the perfect base for exploring this monumental city.

Milan is a 48-minute train ride from Bergamo’s Central Station, with trains departing every hour.

Milan is full of historic buildings, high fashion, fantastic nightlife and culture.

Be sure to marvel at the impressive Gothic cathedral, check out the designer shops at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, or climb the Torre Branca for panoramic views of the city.

Alternatively, you can explore the beautiful botanical gardens or walk through the medieval Sforzesco Castle.

14. Take the old cable car to the old town

cable car

No trip to Bergamo would be complete without taking the historic funicular railway from the lower part of the new town to the upper part of the old town.

The railway has been standing for hundreds of years and has always been the most convenient means of transport to the Old Town Heights.

Metro Station is located at Viale Vittorio Emanuele II and tickets can be purchased from the vendor in the foyer.

You’ll instantly recognize the bright orange track car and marvel at the design of the track and its tunnels.

As you ascend, you’ll enjoy stunning views of Bergamo and pass through the ancient Venetian walls.

15. Dine at Enoteca Zanini Restaurant

Enoteca Zanini Restaurant

For a first-class dining experience, Enoteca Zanini Restaurant in Metro is an excellent place to dine.

Located in Via Borgo Santa Caterina, this restaurant is ideally located from where you can easily explore the city or find a bar for a drink after your meal.

Inside, you’ll find a series of brick arches, exposed stone walls and tasteful décor.

The menu offers a selection of homemade Italian dishes such as Carbonara and Lasagne, as well as delicious seafood prawns and fish.

Every meal uses fresh, locally sourced ingredients wherever possible and the service is second to none.

Where to Stay: The Best Hotels in Bergamo, Italy
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