Bergamo’s Secrets: Attractions That Will Leave You in Awe

Nestled in the heart of Lombardy, Bergamo is a city that is well-known for its rich history, culture, and stunning architecture. The city is often overshadowed by its more famous neighbor, Milan, but Bergamo’s beauty and charm are second to none. While the city is home to several top tourist attractions, there are also many hidden gems that are waiting to be discovered. If you’re looking for a unique and authentic experience, then Bergamo’s best-kept secrets are the perfect destinations for you. From centuries-old churches to hidden gardens and local markets, Bergamo’s off-the-beaten-path attractions will leave you in awe.
Let you take on a journey through Bergamo’s hidden treasures and let us show you why this city should be at the top of your travel list and discover the true essence of this enchanting city.

Best Places to Visit in Bergamo

Visit the Upper Town of Bergamo – Città Alta

The Città Alta is one of the most beautiful things to see in Bergamo that you should definitely visit. If you have reached the upper town of Città Alta in Piazza Mercato delle Scarpe on the hill with the over a hundred-year-old cable car, you will not only be overwhelmed by the view over the Po Plain, but also immerse yourself in a world of narrow historical streets with beautiful little ones Shops and long-established restaurants and bars.

Upper Town of Bergamo Città Alta

The Città Alta is one of the most beautiful things to see in Bergamo that you should definitely visit. If you have reached the upper town of Città Alta in Piazza Mercato delle Scarpe on the hill with the over a hundred-year-old cable car, you will not only be overwhelmed by the view over the Po Plain, but also immerse yourself in a world of narrow historical streets with beautiful little ones Shops and long-established restaurants and bars.

The Venetian City Wall

The Venetian city wall is an attraction of Bergamo. The medieval fortification with a length of over 6 km and a height of up to 50 m. On the terraces of the old Venetian walls there are green areas for walks and benches with fantastic panoramic views. Enjoy one of the wonderful sunsets over the Po Valley in peace and quiet.
Construction of the enormous Venetian city wall began in 1561 as a fortification to deter enemies from a siege of Bergamo. For the construction, the cathedral of Sant’Alessandro, the patron saint of Bergamo and numerous houses and farms on the mountain slopes had to be demolished and thousands of people lost their homes.
It took 27 years to build the city wall, but it was never used for military purposes. But it served as a customs post at the city gates. Thanks to the Venetian city wall, the impregnable Città Alta was completely preserved. In 2017 the Venetian city wall was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Four Medieval City Gates

All four medieval city gates bear the Venetian symbol of the winged lion of San Marco. The city gates went to the roads connecting the cities.

  • The Porta Sant‘Alessandro in the northwest connected the road from Bergamo to Lecco and Como
  • The Porta San Lorenzo in the north led to the countries beyond the Alps. The city gate was later renamed Porta Giuseppe Garibaldi.
  • The Porta Sant‘Agostino in the east went towards Venice.
  • The road from Porta San Giacomo in the south ran to Milan. With its white marble cladding, this city gate is the most monumental and elegant.

Piazza Vecchia in the Upper Town

The center of the upper town of Bergamo is in Piazza Vecchia. The beautiful square is one of the best places to visit in Bergamo. It is lined with restaurants and bars and you can’t help but let yourself be captured by the enchanting atmosphere and admire the architecture of the surrounding palazzi. In the middle of the square, there is a stone fountain, which was named after the Venetian patrician family Contarini.
The Piazza Vecchia was the representative center of Bergamo for centuries. This also results from Roman history, where the Roman Forum was located at this point. Some of the excavations are still in the old library today.

The Biblioteca Civica is housed in the white Palazzo Nuovo on the front of Piazza Vecchia. The Biblioteca Civica Angelo Mai is one of the oldest libraries in Italy. To the side is the Palazzo del Podestà, the palace of the Venetian mayor Alvise Contarini with the Museum of History. The Piazza Vecchia is dominated by the 53-meter high tower Torre Civica. You can climb the bell tower and experience a really breathtaking view not only of Bergamo but also, if the visibility is good, of the entire Po-Plain, the Padana, to the surrounding mountains.

Torre Civica

Torre Civica is a 53 meter high tower in Piazza Vecchia. You can climb the bell tower and experience a really breathtaking view over Bergamo and, if the visibility is good, over the entire Po plain, the Padana, to the surrounding mountains.

The ascent to Torre Civica can be seen both on foot by climbing the 230 steps or comfortably with the elevator. It is the largest bell in Lombardy and every day at 10 p.m., 100 bells ring to commemorate the closing of the city gates during the Venetian siege. So it is worth spending the night in Bergamo or at least having dinner in one of the beautiful traditional restaurants to experience the carillon.

Palazzo della Ragione

At the end of Piazza Vecchia, the Palazzo della Ragione, the Palace of Justice, separates the center of political power from the center of religious power.
The ground floor of the Palazzo della Ragione is designed as a portico. Inside is a small square with a meridian on the floor. It shows the coordinates of the point at which it is located (longitude 27 ° 29 ‘and latitude 45 ° 43’) as well as the height above sea level (360.85 m).
If you cross the arches of the Palazzo della Ragione you come to the Cathedral Square, where two places of worship can be found.

Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica

The more important cathedral is the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. Construction began in 1137 on the site of an earlier Roman temple.
The reason for the construction was the hardship of the inhabitants of Bergamo in the early years of the 12th century as a result of a great drought and the plague raging in Europe. They implored the Blessed Virgin for help and decided to build the church.
For reasons of space, the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore has a very special style. The traditional church facade is missing, but the church has two facades: a southern facade with white lions and a northern facade with red lions that support the two pillars of the archway.
Inside there are frescoes, including the tree of life of the life path of Jesus Christ and valuable tapestry tapestries. The wood inlays, which were made according to designs by the famous painter Lorenzo Lotto, are special masterpieces. These inlaid works are protected by metal plates and only shown publicly on special occasions or holidays.
In the cathedral is the tomb of the world-famous composer Gaetano Donizetti, who was born in Bergamo.

Baptistery of the Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica

The Baptistery is a small octagonal building surrounded by red columns made of Veronese marble. It is located on the right in front of the church next to the Colleoni Chapel. Inside, next to the octagonal baptismal font, there are the statues of San Giovanni Battista and Giovanni da Campione, the walls are decorated with stories from the life of Jesus Christ.

Colleoni Chapel

The Colleoni Chapel is undoubtedly one of the most important buildings in Bergamo. It is located next to the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore and was enforced by Colleoni with some power against the will of the basilica.
The red and white marble facade of the Colleoni Chapel is a masterpiece of the Italian Renaissance. The interior is filled with works of art.
Bartolomeo Colleoni was born in Bergamo between 1380 and 1395. He made a lot of money as a mercenary leader in various armies, namely those who paid the best for it. He used his money to build numerous castles and a sewer system. In the end he had the beautiful chapel built as a mausoleum in his honor with his equestrian statue and the marble sarcophagus. His daughter Medea also rests in the chapel in a dignified grave. Colleoni died in 1475 and has been in the chapel ever since.
One superstition has it that touching the coat of arms symbol on the gate at midnight brings good luck. Even if it shouldn’t be, it’s a great opportunity to take a night stroll through the Upper Town città alta.

Bergamo Cathedral

The Cathedral of Sant’Alessandro of Bergamo is to the left of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, also in the Cathedral Square behind the Palazzo della Ragione. The facade looks rather simple compared to the neighboring basilica and the Colleoni chapel. The cathedral was rebuilt in the 15th century on the foundations of earlier church buildings as a single-nave church with the floor plan of a Latin cross. For this, none other than the Florentine architect Filarete was commissioned. Filarete is also known for the tower at the entrance to Castello Sforzesco in Milan, the Torre del Filarete.
Inside you can see paintings by important Italian artists. The right transept leads to the chapel of Pope John XXIII, where a bronze statue and relics of the Pope are on display.
On the main altar are the remains of the holy martyr Alexander in an urn.
The golden figure of St. Alexander, the protector of the inhabitants and patron saint of Bergamo, dominates the top of the dome.


In the middle of the old town, just a few meters from the cable car, in the direction of the hill of Sant’Eufemia, Piazza, you go up to the Rocca, a fortress from the 14th century. You pass the small church of San Rocco. On the highest hill of Sant’Eufemia, the cold ones had already settled in the 4th century BC as the first inhabitants of Bergamo. From the tower of the Rocca you can enjoy a view over the upper town and the plain as far as Milan and on the other side over the mountains of the pre-Alps.

Noble Palaces in Bergamo

In the upper town of Bergamo there are many palaces of old noble families. Most of them are still family-owned and inhabited. You can see some of the palaces. As an example we present the Palazzo Terzi, which Hermann Hesse was very enthusiastic about.

Palazzo Terzi

In 1913, the writer Hermann Hesse stumbled across the small Piazzetta Terzi in front of the palazzo of the same name. Here he found “one of the most beautiful corners of Italy, one of the many little surprises and joys that are worth traveling for.” Through the door of the palazzo “one could see an inner courtyard with plants and a lantern, behind which two large statues and an elegant balustrade clearly stood out in a dreamy atmosphere and in this narrow corner between the walls evoked the premonition of the infinite distance and vastness of the area over the Po plain “.
Indeed, from the terrace of the palace the visitor has a wonderful view. The Palazzo Terzi consists of two buildings that are entered via a common courtyard, which is adjoined by a wonderful terrace garden.
The first half of the house from 1631 belonged to the Marquis Luigi Terzi and his young wife Paola Roncalli. Over a hundred years later, Marquis Gerolamo Terzi married his Giulia Alessandri and the second residential wing was built.
Inside the Palazzo Terzi, the wonderful rooms can still be seen in their original state. There is the Salottino degli Specchi mirror hall, the red hall, the hall of honor, rooms in the Baroque style of the 18th century. In the so-called Tiepolo Hall there is a painting in the middle of the ceiling that is attributed to Tiepolo.
The Palazzo Terzi can be visited on certain dates and it is also available for events on request.

San Vigilio

A second cable car starts near Porta Sant’Alessandro, at Colle Aperte, and continues up to the San Vigilio hill with the Belvedere viewpoint.
At a height of 496 m, the San Vigilio Castle dominates the upper town. The fortifications of San Vigilio Castle existed long before the Venetian city walls. Presumably the Romans already had a defensive castle here. The floor plan is in the shape of a star with the four towers Agneta, Belvedere, Del Ponte and San Vigilio. A secret passage was found under the castles that can be visited.
From the district with the church of San Vigilio you have a breathtaking panoramic view; When the visibility is good, you can look over the Po Valley to Milan and see the panorama of the pre-Alpine belt to the north.

Donizetti Museum and Birth House of Gaetano Donizetti

Gaetano Donizetti was born on November 1797 in the upper town of Bergamo Alta. The Donizetti family was poor and lived in the basement of a five-story building from the Middle Ages. On the occasion of the first 100th anniversary of Donizetti’s death (1948) and 1973, the basement apartment was restored and opened to the public. In 2009 the building, which has now been completely restored by the Donizetti Foundation, was opened to the public.
The Donizetti Museum shows stations and exhibits from the life of Bergamo’s most famous son. Since his parents could not provide an education for the gifted son, the German Johann Simon Mayr, who also lived in Bergamo, took over the cost of music education for the gifted Gaetano and thus enabled a gifted artist to train and his beautiful music for posterity.

Bergamo, the Elegant Lower Town

The lower town is called Bergamo bassa. Modern Bergamo also has some attractions to offer, for which you should allow yourself enough time. It is an ideal place for strolling and shopping.
The inhabitants of Bergamo, the bergamaschi, refer to their center as Sentierone, the promenade. The elegant “Piacentinian” center of the lower town begins at Porta Nuova, the large city gate from the 19th century in Viale Papa Giovanni XXIII. You will pass beautiful boutiques and elegant cafes. In Piazza Dante you can take a short ice break at the beautiful Triton Fountain or continue to the Church of Saints Bartholomew and Stephan (Chiesa di San Bartolomeo e Stefano).

Church of Saints Bartholomew and Stephan

The church belonged to the Dominican Order in the 17th century. The attraction of the church Santi Bartolomeo e Stefano is the altarpiece by Lorenzo Lotto from 1516.

Donizetti Theater

Not far away is the Donizetti Theater in Piazza Cavour. It was dedicated to the famous Bergamo composer, whose house museum can be visited in the upper town of Bergamo Alta.
In 1840 Gaetano Donizetti performed his opera L’esule di Roma for the first time in the theater, which was honored with much applause from the audience. But it was not until 1897, on the occasion of the composer’s 100th birthday, that the theater was given the name of the great master Donizetti.
The works of Donizetti that are most represented in theaters around the world today are L’Elisir d’Amore (Elixir of Love), Lucia di Lammermoor and Don Pasquale.
The Teatro Donizetti has been restored by heart since 2017 and was just ready to reopen in 2020, but the Covid pandemic thwarted this bill.

Donizetti Opera Festival

The Donizetti Opera Festival in Bergamo is an annual celebration of the renowned Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti. Held in Donizetti’s birthplace, the festival pays homage to his extraordinary musical legacy and showcases his operatic masterpieces.

The festival brings together opera enthusiasts, performers, and experts from around the world to immerse themselves in the enchanting world of Donizetti’s music. It serves as a platform to rediscover and appreciate the genius of this prolific composer, who played a significant role in the development of Italian opera.

Throughout the festival, a series of opera productions by Donizetti are presented, ranging from his popular works like “Lucia di Lammermoor,” “L’elisir d’amore,” and “Don Pasquale” to lesser-known gems from his vast repertoire. These performances feature renowned artists, singers, and orchestras, ensuring exceptional interpretations of Donizetti’s compositions.

The Donizetti Opera Festival not only offers extraordinary performances but also provides a deeper understanding of the composer and his artistic journey. Through exhibitions, lectures, and workshops, attendees can explore the historical and cultural context of Donizetti’s works, gaining insights into his life, inspirations, and musical innovations.

Bergamo, with its rich cultural heritage and strong ties to Donizetti, serves as the perfect backdrop for this festival. The city’s historic theaters and charming venues create an intimate and immersive atmosphere, enhancing the overall experience for audiences and artists alike.

The Donizetti Opera Festival in Bergamo has become a highlight in the international opera calendar, attracting opera aficionados and music lovers from all corners of the globe. It is a celebration of Donizetti’s enduring legacy and a testament to the power of his music to captivate and inspire audiences even today.

Donizetti Night

Every year in June, the Donizetti Night takes place in Bergamo. During this event, pieces by Donizetti are performed in every corner of the lower town of Bergamo and artists sing in bars and courtyards. At this event there is an incredibly beautiful and relaxed atmosphere in Bergamo.

Accademia Carrara and GAMeC

The Accademia Carrara with the Pinacoteca and the Art School is located in the Piazza Giacomo Carrara of the same name in the museum complex of the lower town of Bergamo.
The Accademia Carrara was founded in Bergamo in 1796. It is located in the historic Palazzo Carrara. It was the government palace of the Carrara family and subsequent ones between the 12th and 19th centuries. Count Giacomo Carrara and his heirs were great art collectors who bequeathed their collected works to the city of Bergamo. The Accademia Carrara houses works of Italian art from the beginning of the fifteenth century.
In the Carrara Pinacoteca you can admire more than 1,500 paintings, including by important artists such as Botticelli, Andrea Mantegna, Giovanni Bellini, Lorenzo Lotto, Tiziano, Tiepolo, Canaletto, Francesco Hayez and Pellizza da Volpedo.

Opposite on the Piazza Giacomo Carrara is the gallery for modern and contemporary art GAMeC 1991 in the rooms of a former convent from the 15th century, the Monastero delle Dimesse and Servite.

Atalanta Bergamo Football Stadium

In addition to the Italian football star teams such as Juve, Milan and Inter, the star of Atalanta Bergamo shines in the Italian football sky. Not far from Piazza Giacomo Carrara (750 m on foot) is the Gewiss football stadium in Viale Giulio Cesare. Insider tip: On days when there are no matches, you can use the stadium’s car park in Via Giulio Crescenzi free of charge and explore Bergamo in front.

Travel to Bergamo

Where is the Airport Milan Bergamo?

The international airport of Milan Bergamo is called Airport Caravaggio and is located in Orio al Serio, a few kilometers from Bergamo. You can see the airport well from the hill of San Vigilio. Regular buses connect Orio al Serio Airport with Bergamo train station and on to the Upper Town. They run every 20 minutes and the journey takes 15 minutes to the train station and another 7 minutes to the upper town of Città Alta. The tickets are extremely cheap and you can buy them at the counters at the train station, in tabaccherie and at newsagents.

How to Get to the Upper Town of Bergamo?

We recommend reaching the upper town by public transport or walking up the hill. There is the Funicolare cable car in Viale Vittorio Emanuele II or the number 1 bus from the station.
You can walk either a nice path from Piazza Giacomo Carrara or via the Salita Scaletta stairs next to the cable car. The ascent takes about 10 minutes.

What To Do in Bergamo

  • Stroll through the historical center in the upper town
  • Climb the Torre Civica bell tower to admire Bergamo from above
  • Visit the Colleoni Chapel and try your luck
  • Enjoy the panoramic view from Castello San Vigilio
  • Try stracciatella ice cream in the original gelateria
  • Let an expert guide you through the history of Bergamo to the hidden corners
  • Try the typical dishes on a tasting tour
  • Take the funicular to the Upper Town
  • Visit a real aristocratic palace

Culinary Specialties from Bergamo

Casoncelli alla Bergamasca

Casoncelli are the most typical dish of the Bergamasque cuisine. It was invented to recycle leftovers from beef and pork. A filling is prepared from the minced meat and sausage with spices, which is packed in dumplings and then boiled in water. Serve with sage butter and cheese. There is also a Bergamasque wine, e.g. the Valcalepio.

Stracciatella Ice Cream from Bergamo

Did you know that stracciatella ice cream was invented in Bergamo? Try the original stracciatella ice cream in the traditional gelateria La Marianna.

Cheese from Bergamo

Many types of cheese are produced around Bergamo. In small and large alpine farms, cheeses are mainly made from cow’s milk and goat’s milk. The well-known spicy soft cheese Taleggio comes from the Taleggio valley of the same name.


A very typical side dish is polenta. It is made from corn flour and satisfies hunger. Polenta served as a staple food, especially in times of famine as a result of the plague epidemic.
You can prepare polenta as a side dish to meat and game dishes, but also with gorgonzola. A very typical winter dish is polenta with rabbit (coniglio).

San Pellegrino

The world-famous San Pellegrino mineral water comes from the town of the same name just a few kilometers from Bergamo.

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Bergamo on the Lombardy Italy Map

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