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Bergamo (Bèrghem in Eastern Lombard and Bergum in Western Lombard , antiquated:Wälsch-Bergen in German) is a town and comune in Lombardy, Italymarker, about 40 km northeast of Milanmarker. The comune is home to approximately 117,000 inhabitants. It is served by the Orio al Serio Airportmarker, which also serves the Province of Bergamo, and to a lesser extent the metropolitan area of Milanmarker. The foothills of the Alpsmarker begin immediately north of the town.


Early years

Bergamo occupies the site of the ancient town of Bergomum, founded as a settlement of the Celtic tribe of Cenomani. In 49 BC it became a Roman municipality, containing circa 10,000 inhabitants at its peak. An important hub on the military road between Friulimarker and Raetia, it was destroyed by Attila in the 5th century.

Middle Ages

Bergamo in the year 1450.

From the 6th century Bergamo was the seat of one of the most important Lombard duchies of northern Italy, together with Bresciamarker, Trentomarker and Cividale del Friulimarker: its first Lombard duke was Wallaris. After the conquest of the Lombard Kingdom by Charlemagne, it became the seat of a county under one Auteramus (died 816).

From the 11th century onwards Bergamo was an independent commune, taking part in the Lombard League which defeated Frederick I Barbarossa in 1165. Caught in the bitter fights between Guelphs and Ghibellines, led in the city by the Colleoni and the Suardimarker respectively, from 1264 Bergamo was intermittently under the rule of Milanmarker. In 1331 it gave itself to John of Bohemia, but later the Visconti of Milan reconquered it.

Rinascimento and modern Era

After a short conquest by the Malatesta in 1407, in 1428 it fell under the control of the Venetian Republicmarker, remaining part of it until 1797. Notably, the Venetians fortified the higher portion of the town (see Main sights section).

XIX and XX century

In 1815, it was assigned to Austriamarker. Giuseppe Garibaldi freed it in 1859, and thenceforth Bergamo was part of the Kingdom of Italy.



Bergamo has a prominent place in music history. The large Romanesque church of Santa Maria Maggiore, begun in 1137, had a continuous and well-documented tradition of music teaching and singing for more than eight hundred years. When the town was under Venetian control, the musical style of the Venetians was imported as well; in particular, a large instrumental ensemble grew up to support the choral singing. Composers such as Gasparo Alberti produced music with polyphony using two organs, brass and viols, a style usually associated with Venice, but which flourished in the fine acoustic environment of Santa Maria Maggiore.

The city lent its name to a style of folk dance known as bergamask peculiar to the peoples of that region. Known as bergomasci and renowned for their buffoonery, the fool Bottom in Shakespeare's A Midsummer's Night's Dream refers to their Bergomask dance. This unconventional form gave Debussy a vehicle for the dissonances and irregular intervals of his "Suite bergamasque."

Prominent musicians born in Bergamo include Gaetano Donizetti, Pietro Locatelli, Antonio Lolli, Gianluigi Trovesi, and Gianandrea Gavazzeni. Alessandro Grandi, one of the most progressive composers of the early 17th century after Monteverdi, was maestro di cappella there until his death in the plague of 1630; Tarquinio Merula, an even more progressive composer, and one of the founders of the early sonata, took over his post.

Bergamo was the hometown and last resting place of Enrico Rastelli, a highly technical and world famous juggler who lived in the town and, in 1931, died there at the early age of 34. There is a life-sized statue to Rastelli within his mausoleum.

Main sights

Cappella Colleoni.
Small street (via della Noca) leading to Città alta.
Piazza Vecchia during winter.
The town has two centres: "Città alta" (upper city), a hilltop medieval town, surrounded by 17th century cyclopic defensive walls, and the "Città bassa" (lower city). The two parts of the town are connected by funicular/cable car, roads, and foot-path (the most convenient being immediately adjacent to the funicular station). Parking spaces are very limited in the upper city and non-local traffic is banned on the weekends.

Città alta

The upper city, surrounded by Venetian walls built in the 17th century, forms the historic centre of Bergamo.

Città Alta is an extremely expensive place to live in, with properties being sold for a minimum of 2,000,000 euro.

This has numerous places of interest including:
The modern città bassa.

Città bassa

The Biblioteca Angelo Mai on the Piazza Vecchia.
The Venetian Tower in the Rocca.
The lower city is the modern centre of Bergamo. At the end of the nineteenth century Città Bassa was composed of Borghi, the residential houses built along the main road that linked Bergamo with the other cities of Lombardy. The main bourgs were Borgo Palazzo along the road to Bresciamarker, Borgo San Leonardo along the road to Milanmarker and Borgo Santa Caterina along the road to Valle Seriana. The city rapidly expanded during the twentieth century. In the first decades, the municipality erected major buildings like the new courthouse and various administrative offices in the lower part of Bergamo in order to create a new center of the city. After World War II and during the so called miracolo economico (economic boom) many residential buildings were constructed in the lower part of the city which are now divided into several neighborhoods such as Longuelo, Colognola, Malpensata and Boccaleone among many others. The shopping district developed shortly after, now commonly known as the street the shops are located on Via 20 Settembre.

Of artistic importance in Città Bassa are:
  • Pinacoteca dell'Accademia Carraramarker (picture museum of Carrara academy) This is currently closed for restoration and a selection of its paintings is exhibited in the Palazzo Ragione in Città Alta.
  • Galleria d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea (gallery of modern and contemporary art), known as GAMEC.


In 2007, there were 115,781 people residing in Bergamo (in which the greater area has more than 300 000 inhabitants), located in the province of Bergamo, Lombardia, of whom 46.7% were male and 53.3% were female. Minors (children ages 18 and younger) totalled 16.32 percent of the population compared to pensioners who number 23.67 percent. This compares with the Italian average of 18.06 percent (minors) and 19.94 percent (pensioners). The average age of Bergamo residents is 45 compared to the Italian average of 42. In the five years between 2002 and 2007, the population of Bergamo grew by 1.92 percent, while Italymarker as a whole grew by 3.85 percent. The current birth rate of Bergamo is 8.72 births per 1,000 inhabitants compared to the Italian average of 9.45 births.

As of 2006, 90.47% of the population was Italian. The largest immigrant group comes from other European nations (the largest being Albaniamarker, and Romaniamarker): 3.15%, Americas (mostly from Cochabambamarker,Boliviamarker): 2.37%, sub-saharan Africa: 1.41%, and North Africa: 1.23%. Currently one-fifth of the babies born in Bergamo has at least one foreign parent. The city is predominantly Roman Catholic and also host the see of a Diocese of Bergamo, but due to immigration now has some Orthodox Christian, Muslim, and Protestant adherents.


As capital and main town of its province, Bergamo hosts the public administration offices of provincial interest.In the past, many factories were in the commune territory, mainly for electrical components, industrial mechanics and publishing businesses, but have then moved outward.In the town two large corporations are still based: Italcementi and UBI Banca.


International relations: Twin towns

Bergamo is twinned with:

Bergamo set a relationship of decentralized cooperation with the municipality of Kakanjmarker, Bosnia-Herzegovinamarker, in the late 1990s. Procedures for town twinning were set up in 1997 but never completed.

See also


External links

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