Spending a week in Milan last fall gave us time for side trips. One day we took the train to Bergamo, about an hour away. Bergamo is a hill town with a Citta Bassa (lower town), and a Citta Alta (upper town), and the Hill of San Vigilio, with funiculars that tie them together. Citta Bassa was built in the 19th century at the foot of the ancient upper city walls.
A funicular delivers you from Citta Bassa to Piazza Mercato delle Scarpe in the Citta Alta.
We wandered past cafes and shops along narrow cobblestone streets….
Arriving at the Piazza Duomo.
The Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore was begun in 1137. Over the next six centuries, it underwent a lot of changes. The main façade lost its entrance when it was combined with the Bishop’s Palace. In the mid-14th century a “new” entrance porch (vestibule) on the north side of the Basilica was built by Giovanni da Campione.
The lions and columns are Veronese marble.
The inside of the Basilica is enchanting. It felt smaller and more intimate than others we’ve seen. It is decorated with beautiful frescos, statues, and Flemish tapestries, which give it a warmth not usually felt in large spaces. I loved the black and white marble floor tiles, too.
The composer, Gaetano Donizetti, was born in Bergamo and is buried here.
The Colleoni Chapel was added to the basilica in 1476. It is the mausoleum of a famous commander and his daughter.
The Baptistery was built in 1340.
The 12th century Torre del Campanone is in the Piazza Vecchia along with the Contarini Fountain from 1780.
We had a fabulous lunch at Mimi – an Italian pot roast with polenta for Will and a meat ravioli for me.
We took another funicular to the top of the hill above the old city, to the ruins of the Castle of San Vigilio.
There are great views from up here, but this day the air was smoggy/smoky from wild fires in the north.
It’s a pretty park on any day.
Back down the hill on the funicular…..
And another walk through Citta Alta.
Halloween cookies are the same in any language…. Minions and Spider-Man too!
One last ride on the funicular takes us down to the lower town for our return to Milan.
A great day in Bergamo!