The Routes of Time • • Visit Bergamo

The Routes of Time

Description

The districts stretch from the Upper Town to the plains: Pignolo, in the direction of Venice, is a discreet place full of noble manors; S. Leonardo, along Via S. Alessandro, led the way to Milan and is characterised by its bustling commercial activity. Via XX Settembre and Sentierone boulevard, the shopping streets of the city, cross paths here. The itinerary includes the Accademia Carrara museum and a scenic stretch of the Venetian walls.


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The districts stretch from the Upper Town to the plains: Pignolo, in the direction of Venice, is a discreet place full of noble manors; S. Leonardo, along Via S. Alessandro, led the way to Milan and is characterised by its bustling commercial activity. Via XX Settembre and Sentierone boulevard, the shopping streets of the city, cross paths here. The itinerary includes the Accademia Carrara museum and a scenic stretch of the Venetian walls.


Piazzale degli Alpini/Urban Center - Teatro Donizetti

Viale Papa Giovanni was built in the second half of the nineteenth century with the name of Viale Roma to connect the Porta Nuova gate to the Station. Extremely wide for its time, it constitutes the backbone of the twentieth century city's development.

Its stunning views towards the Upper Town are softened by numerous chestnut trees that shade the path. The numerous commercial businesses located along the avenue make for an extremely pleasant walk.

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Viale Papa Giovanni was built in the second half of the nineteenth century with the name of Viale Roma to connect the Porta Nuova gate to the Station. Extremely wide for its time, it constitutes the backbone of the twentieth century city's development.

Its stunning views towards the Upper Town are softened by numerous chestnut trees that shade the path. The numerous commercial businesses located along the avenue make for an extremely pleasant walk.

1Sentierone and Centro Piacentiniano

The centre of modern Bergamo is the ideal place to walk in the name of shopping, amusement, art and history!

This ancient and elegant part of the city is called Centro Piacentiniano, an amazing architectural complex that used to host the old city trade fair. This very same atmosphere still enlivens the area, thanks to the numerous markets and events filling the city centre with colours and scents all over the year. Walking along the Sentierone pedestrian way, passing by the imposing chestnut trees and beyond the Porta Nuova propylaea, you will get to via XX Settembre: here you can admire Palazzo Frizzoni, Bergamo’s City Hall.

From here on, enjoy the local life: boutiques, shops, alleys and beautiful small squares, in the name of amusement. Last but not least, how about a good coffee or a drink in one of the numerous cafes and bars? 

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2Porta Nuova

Train is the best way to get to Bergamo: going out of the railway station, you have an immediate and wonderful overview of the city. Your sight follows a straight line going up to Porta Nuova, the heart of the Lower Town. Raise your head just a little bit and your eyes will be filled with the majestic and perfect landscape of the Upper Town.

In 1837, the old wicket gate nestled in the “Muraine”, the massive XV Century walls that used to surround the hills and go down to the Lower Town and the old districts, was replaced by an iron gate opening a breach in the defensive walls: it is Porta Nuova (“New Gate”).

This place represented the main gateway to the commercial area of Bergamo for a very long time. Today, it is still the main junction around which the main streets and monuments of the Lower Town lie. 

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3Donizetti Theatre

The Teatro Donizetti covers a total area of 3200 square meters. The hall’s dimensions respect the original 1786 design: it measures 360 square meters and it’s able to seat 532 people. There are 120 boxes, divided into three tiers, totalling 1154 seats.

It’s easy to understand how magnificent this building is and how astonished the Bergamo citizens were as they saw it, in an age when there only were small and temporary wooden theatres.

An enormous and sparkling chandelier, with 78 lamps, hangs from the middle of the ceiling, while other sources light up the stage.

Due to its sound harmony and distribution, the theatre is considered one of the best ones in Italy.

Originally named “Riccardi” after its maker, this Theatre is mostly renown as the place where Donizetti’s operas (more than 70!) were spread and appreciated by his fellow citizens.

Try to imagine the emotion experienced by Donizetti in theatre, when the audience assisting to the opera “L’esule di Roma – The exile from Rome”, gave a sincere and warm ovation. This happened in 1840: Donizetti would eventually die of disease in Bergamo a few years later, in his hometown, in 1848.

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Sentierone - Via Pignolo/Museo Diocesano

This route connects Sentierone boulevard to the Borgo Pignolo district through the so-called Nuova quarter, currently known as Torquato Tasso.

The street is bustling with pedestrians thanks to the numerous commercial businesses and administrative and cultural offices that line the road.

Considered the heart of the Lower Town, it is characterised by its numerous open and green public spaces, where Bergamo's residents have always come to meet with others, to do business and enjoy a drink.

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This route connects Sentierone boulevard to the Borgo Pignolo district through the so-called Nuova quarter, currently known as Torquato Tasso.

The street is bustling with pedestrians thanks to the numerous commercial businesses and administrative and cultural offices that line the road.

Considered the heart of the Lower Town, it is characterised by its numerous open and green public spaces, where Bergamo's residents have always come to meet with others, to do business and enjoy a drink.

4Provincial authority building

Following Italian Unification, marked the transfer of political power from the Upper Town to the Lower Town. Designed by Pier Antonio Preda, the bas-reliefs on the facade are by Pagani, Ceruti and Maironi, while frescoes of mythological subjects by Giovan Battista Castello can be seen inside.

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5Church of Saints Bartolomeo and Stefano

At the end of the eastern end of the Sentierone promenade, you can see the Church of Saints Bartolomeo and Stefano, built for the Dominican Religious Order in the first half of XVII Century, following the plan of the architect Antonio Maria Caneva.

Dominican order was not the first one to live in these places: in fact, the site used to belong to the community of the Order of the Humiliati. Formerly the complex used to consist of a church and some farmhouses.

If you observe the church from the outside you can notice the different construction periods: the façade, imitating a baroque style, was rebuilt in 897, the portico on the left was renovated in 1942, while the side overlooking via Tasso was made during the XIX Century.

The church features one aisle with five chapels on each side. The choir is decorated with beautiful XVI Century inlays, while behind the main altar you can admire the renowned Martinengo Altarpiece by Lorenzo Lotto, dating back to 1516.

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6Church of S. Bernardino

Situated at the entrance of Bergamo’s most aristocratic road, this church was most likely built following the saint’s two visits to the city (1419-1422). Re-consecrated by the bishop in 1593, perhaps after a major restoration, it was decorated throughout the years.

Its neo-Gothic form was created between the nineteenth and twentieth century: a single space, punctuated by 5 bays, 3 of which are believed to be fifteenth-century, with a gabled facade. The altarpiece is the work of Lorenzo Lotto (1521) .

 

 
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7Church of S. Spirito

Walking along via Tasso, in the centre of Lower Bergamo, you will surely notice the rough façade of this church, overtopped by the imposing bronze statue of the Holy Ghost descending to the churchyard.

The previous building belonged to a XIV Century monastery. A group of rich merchants in the XVI Century decided to radically transform it in order to establish its social status by means of a church, besides the numerous palaces.

The church renovation took a long time. Over different periods, the two major architects from Bergamo worked on it: Pietro Isabello in the XVI Century and Gian Battista Caniana in the XVIII Century.

Five chapels per side flank the central nave. The fourth one on the right hosts the wonderful Altarpiece (oil on table) by the Italian Renaissance master Lorenzo Lotto, "Madonna and Child with Saint Catherine of Alexandria, St. Augustine, St. Sebastian and St. Anthony Abbot", 1521.

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8Adriano Bernareggi Museum of Sacred Art

The Museum is located in the XVI Century Bassi-Rathgeb Palace. On three floors and twenty rooms, it displays the artworks collected by Monsignor Adriano Bernareggi (Bergamo’s Bishop from 1936 to 1953) all over the churches of Diocese, in order to record their history.

The collections’ arrangement follows an educational itinerary aiming to proof the cultural importance of Christianity in modern society (XVI – XIX Centuries), by means of both masterpieces and folk art objects.

All along the exhibition route you can admire paintings by L. Lotto, G. B. Moroni, D. Crespi, C. Ceresa, A. Vivarini and many other masters of the local schools, along with ancient fabrics and embroideries, fine jewels and polychromous wood sculptures.

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Chiesa S. Alessandro della Croce - Ex Monastero S. Agostino

This route winds through the noble palaces on via Pignolo, a representative district since the sixteenth century since it led to Venice, under whose rule Bergamo remained for nearly four centuries.

Beyond the Dolphin Fountain, Borgo S. Tomaso leads to the Seriana Valley. The buildings on the left side, facing north, are middle-class dwellings, while those exposed to the south belonged to high-ranking families.

Here you can visit trendy workshops in addition to the Accademia Carrara and GAMeC art galleries.

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This route winds through the noble palaces on via Pignolo, a representative district since the sixteenth century since it led to Venice, under whose rule Bergamo remained for nearly four centuries.

Beyond the Dolphin Fountain, Borgo S. Tomaso leads to the Seriana Valley. The buildings on the left side, facing north, are middle-class dwellings, while those exposed to the south belonged to high-ranking families.

Here you can visit trendy workshops in addition to the Accademia Carrara and GAMeC art galleries.

9The Dolphin Fountain

Let’s dive into the deep waters of Lower Bergamo: how is it possible?

Thanks to the beautiful Dolphin Fountain. A strong two-tales triton rides a dolphin by which the water gushes, along with the two deity masks on the column sides.

You will better appreciate the fluid lines of this Fountain by walking around it, admiring the triton’s dynamic pose.

On the other hand, there is also a bas-relief on the Fountain’s base representing a big pinecone, the symbol of the Pignolo borough, one of the most ancient districts of Bergamo.

In the Middle Age, before the Venetian Walls were built, this area was full of wide and lush conifer woods, whose fruit is indeed the pinecone.

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10Church of S. Alessandro della Croce

As you walk along via Pignolo, the medieval street connecting the Lower City with the “Città Alta”, you will get to a small square: the church of Sant’Alessandro della Croce is located right there. According to the legend, it was originally built during the time of Alessandro’s martyrdom, in IV Century. However, its interiors were rebuilt between XVII and XVIII Century, while the façade was only completed in 1922.

It is called “della Croce – of the Cross” because it was built at the crossroad among four medieval boroughs.

The Church is decorated with some of the most beautiful paintings in Bergamo. We just mention two masterpieces by Gian Battista Moroni: “Coronation of the Virgin”, located on the counter façade, and Crucifixion with Saint Sebastian, John the Baptist and a devotee” in the sacristies.

There are three chapels on each side of the nave: in the first one you will find an empty urn, which used to be the tomb of Saint Alessandro, whose remains are currently kept in the Cathedral of Bergamo.

On the other side, the second chapel on the right holds a beautiful altar made exclusively of precious multi-coloured marbles, carried out by the master Andrea Fantoni in 1729:a unique work for that time, demonstrating his amazing skills.

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11GAMeC

GAMeC – Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art – was established in 1991 right in front of its “older sister”, the Accademia Carrara Pictures Gallery, in a finely restored building dating back to the XV Century that used to be a monastery. The whole XX Century is displayed across its ten exhibition rooms: paintings and sculptures by worldwide renowned artists, divided into thematic areas. One of the most outstanding ones is the Manzù Collection. In fact, here in his hometown you will find the best pieces by Giacomo Manzoni, a.k.a. Giacomo Manzù, the world famous artist from Bergamo whose sculptures are exhibited all over the planet. The other Collections will take you to a journey across the Early XX Century artistic ferment, making you discover the best trends and the most influential art movements: from the European paintings of the ‘50s and the ‘60s (mostly belonging to the so-called Informal Art), to the modern art masterpieces by Balla, Boccioni, De Chirico, Kandinsky and Morandi. Moreover, you will have the chance to admire many other masterpieces by some ‘30s artists, such as Sironi, or even by contemporary artists like Cattelan, Beecroft, Man and Basilico.
A surprising journey across our most recent past and today’s international art, all held inside the 1.500 square meters of GAMeC!

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12ACCADEMIA CARRARA

A majestic neoclassical building overlooking a wide cobblestone square has been housing the Accademia Carrara gallery since 1810, which was established in 1794 by the Count Giacomo Carrara.
You will be amazed by the beauty of its masterpieces, painted by many renowned artists such as Moroni ,Pisanello, Lotto, Botticelli, Titian, Palma the Elder, Canaletto, Hayez, Piccio, Baschenis. The original artistic heritage consisted in the huge and precious collection of the Count Carrara, who left his patrimony to the maintenance of the Accademia.

As time passed by, many other works were added, including some amazing masterpieces: for instance, Mantegna’s Madonna and Child, a painting where the artist displays all his ability in recreating the smallest details, such as the golden embroideries of the lapis lazuli blue of the Virgin’s mantle.

Not to mention Pellizza da Volpedo’s Portrait of Santina Negri, where the artist manages to convey all the pain and suffering of this young woman, or even Raphael Sanzio’s marvellous Saint Sebastian surrounded by light, staring at you with his serene and enigmatic look.

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Ex Monastero S. Agostino - Porta S. Giacomo

Along the walls, between the city's two most beautiful gates, a wonderful view opens up over the plains and hills with Monte Orfano in the background, an isolated mountain on the edge of the final ridges in the Franciacorta area.

The pedestrian path with its colourful chestnut trees is a popular destination that opened to the public in the first half of the nineteenth century. It is recommended to lengthen the itinerary by following along via Porta Dipinta to visit the church of S. Michele al Pozzo Bianco.

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Along the walls, between the city's two most beautiful gates, a wonderful view opens up over the plains and hills with Monte Orfano in the background, an isolated mountain on the edge of the final ridges in the Franciacorta area.

The pedestrian path with its colourful chestnut trees is a popular destination that opened to the public in the first half of the nineteenth century. It is recommended to lengthen the itinerary by following along via Porta Dipinta to visit the church of S. Michele al Pozzo Bianco.

13Venetian Gates

The four doors that open along the perimeter of the walls are named, except for the gate of Sant’Agostino, after neighbouring churches, demolished in order to build the walls, including the early Christian basilica of Sant’Alessandro.

The facade of the Gate of San Giacomo (1593), facing Lower Bergamo, features the lion of San Marco.

The stone bridge was built in 1780 by the Podestà Alvise Contarini.

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14Venetian Walls and Unesco

Bergamo wouldn’t be the same without its impressive Venetian Walls. This spectacular circuit is over six km long: it’s the perfect place to take a romantic walk and enjoy wonderful sunsets, and it has been enclosing the beauties of the Upper Town for more than four centuries.

The Walls’ priceless artistic and cultural value is also confirmed by their candidacy to become a Unesco World Heritage, a path taken in 2007 that has finally got to its final stage.

They were built starting from 1561 by the Republic of Venice in order to face enemies attacks, but History was kind with them: maybe due to their stunning beauty, they never underwent any siege. That is why they remained almost intact to the present day.

The Walls consist of 14 bastions, 2 platforms, 100 embrasures for cannons, 2 armouries, four gates, not to mention the underground structures featuring sallies, passages and tunnels: don’t miss the chance to walk inside the Walls and to visit the casemates of San Michele and San Giovanni!

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15Cannoniera di San Giovanni (embrasure)

To enter the San Giovanni Casemate you have to go down a few meters under the ground by means of an iron staircase, in the rampart with the same name: this defensive structure was built right here, hundreds of years ago.

Getting to the manoeuvre area of the casemate, perfectly restored, history suddenly becomes something tangible, as you immediately understand what was war like five hundred years ago.

Casemates were used to allocate soldiers and cannons defending the city Walls. As you may notice, the embrasures don’t face the flatland: this is not a mistake, but a strategic choice! The cannons’ openings were guarded against the enemy fire, so that they could open fire to the enemy soldiers assaulting the walls.

Once you got back to surface, you will notice a particular metal object. It’s a sundial, a very ancient tool reinterpreted by using contemporary features and materials: it can almost seem an art installation, indeed!

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Via S. Alessandro / Monastero S. Benedetto Piazza Vittorio Veneto e piazza dante

Coming out from the San Giacomo gate, embellished with white Zandobbio marble, the route runs through the ancient Borgo di S. Leonardo district to the heart of the twentieth century city.

The first stretch of the route follows along the high walls of the orchards and gardens of ancient buildings, including the convent of San Benedetto.

Beyond via Garibaldi you will enter the most animated part of the district, where shops and eateries invite you to stop and sample a tasty dish or appetizer. 

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Coming out from the San Giacomo gate, embellished with white Zandobbio marble, the route runs through the ancient Borgo di S. Leonardo district to the heart of the twentieth century city.

The first stretch of the route follows along the high walls of the orchards and gardens of ancient buildings, including the convent of San Benedetto.

Beyond via Garibaldi you will enter the most animated part of the district, where shops and eateries invite you to stop and sample a tasty dish or appetizer. 

Via A. Locatelli / Funicolare Città Alta

In Largo Belotti, poco distante da Piazza Dante, si erge il Palazzo delle Poste e lungo la stessa via ha sede l’interessante Museo Matris Domini, ospitato all’interno di un antico monastero domenicano.

Proseguendo lungo la medesima via si incrocia Viale Vittorio Emanuele II: percorrendolo sulla destra si raggiunge Porta S. Agostino mentre sulla sinistra si trova la stazione della funicolare che conduce in Città Alta.

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In Largo Belotti, poco distante da Piazza Dante, si erge il Palazzo delle Poste e lungo la stessa via ha sede l’interessante Museo Matris Domini, ospitato all’interno di un antico monastero domenicano.

Proseguendo lungo la medesima via si incrocia Viale Vittorio Emanuele II: percorrendolo sulla destra si raggiunge Porta S. Agostino mentre sulla sinistra si trova la stazione della funicolare che conduce in Città Alta.

16Matris Domini Monastery Museum

This museum, housed in a Dominican monastery, holds some marvellous and outstanding historic frescoes, dating back to the XIII and the XIV Century.

Museo Matris Domini is located in the most ancient part of the religious building in via Locatelli in downtown Bergamo, and opened to the public back in the year 2000. Here you can admire about 20 pieces of fresco, divided into two groups.

The first one includes the most ancient frescoes, hosted in a large hall called “Refettorio vecchio – Old Refectory”; on the other hand, the second group comes from the apse of the ancient Romanesque church of the monastery, and consists of those frescoes that survived the baroque renovation works underwent by the church during the XVIII Century.

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