The ancient heart of Bergamo
Bèrghem de hura, Bèrghem de hota – the city of Bergamo is divided between the lower, more modern part, and the upper, more ancient part, perched on a hill and surrounded by Venetian walls.
The upper city lends itself to exploring on foot, to discover all its jewels at a slow pace. The best way to reach it from lower Bergamo is to board the funicular railway that will take you to Piazza Mercato delle Scarpe in a few minutes – a popular way to travel from the late 19th century onwards.
Upper Bergamo is a tangle of narrow streets lined by ancient buildings. Its beating heart is Piazza Vecchia, where you can admire the Palazzo della Ragione, the Campanone tower, the Palazzo del Podestà and the Angelo Mai Library. Next to Piazza Vecchia is the small but elegant Piazza del Duomo, home to the city’s main places of worship, including Bergamo Cathedral, the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore and the Baptistery.
We recommend strolling along Via Colleoni, also known as Corsarola, to find restaurants and shops selling typical souvenirs. You will end up at the Venetian walls, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and at the Rocca di Bergamo fortress, which offers the most magical views.
Before leaving the upper city through the elegant Porta San Giacomo, be sure to sample Bergamo’s delicacies, from casoncei pasta to polenta e osei sponge cake and stracciatella ice cream, which, according to tradition, was invented right there.
Few people know that upper Bergamo once had its own “pleasure house”: a yellow building on Via San Lorenzo known for its numerous chimneys, one for each young lady who worked there, using smoke to signal when they were busy.