Travel /
Lombardia

Bergamo: La Città Dei Mille

A list of distinctive places worth visiting at least one once in a lifetime

 

Upper or Lower Bergamo?

 

Bergamo, like many cities in Italy, was the subject of numerous raids and disputes at the hands of warring European tribes, who, century after century, fought over this geographically dominant city.

 

Architecturally, the city is spread over two easily recognisable upper and lower levels: the upper part is the ancient heart of the city, with Roman roots dating back to 49 B.C., where ancient palaces and public buildings still stand, surrounded by 16th century Venetian walls, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in their own right; and the lower city, developed during contemporary times to expand the city’s commercial and economic development.

 

The development of the lower city into the modern center,  took place between the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. Architect Marcello Piacentini designed a series of city and government buildings in the Italian rationalist style that to this day still function as originally Intended, housing the Bank of Italy, the Attorney’s Office, and the Chamber of Commerce, among others.

 

In spite of Bergamo’s clear geographical division, the divide is not perceived in the fabric of its identity. The city comes together perfectly in a dance of winding alleys and tree-lined avenues, emphasising even more the tight bond that exists between the historical section and the contemporary one, an architectural symbiosis likewise reflected in its people, a strong and proud population rooted on solid values ​​of social welfare and family, while keeping a steady gaze focused on the future.

 

Indicative of these core values, when Giuseppe Garibaldi led the infamous party of thousands to battle for the unification of Italy, the people of Bergamo were a large part of that expedition, thereby earning the city the nickname of “City of the Thousand”.  Today, as one of the European cities most severely affected by Covid19, the people’s desire for unity was refuelled by its notable resilience and solidarity in the face of the pandemic.

 

So, if you find yourself in Bergamo and love design and architecture, among other treasures that this ancient city offers, what follows is a list of distinctive places worth visiting at least one once in a lifetime.

 

Italcementi i.lab (2005-2012)

The Italcementi Research and Innovation Center, designed by American architect Richard Meier is the first of its kind in Italy to earn Platinum LEED certification in sustainability. In 2010 the building received the European Green Building Award for best energy efficient construction.

 

 

Parco scientifico Kilometro Rosso (2001-2007)

Designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, Science Park was conceived as an initiative by Brembo s.p.a., makers of brakes for luxury automobiles. Situated along highway A4, it extends over an area of ​​23,000 square meters, consisting of a kilometer-long wall made of red lacquered aluminum panels which, in addition to being an eye-catching landmark, also acts as a noise barrier from highway traffic, protecting the enclosed park of over 400,000 square meters.

 

San Pellegrino Flagship Factory (2018-in corso) 

Riqualificazione dell’omonima fabbrica di acqua minerale dove Bjarke Ingels ed il suo team si sono lasciati ispirare dal paesaggio del fiume Brembo e dalla spettacolare valle locale dominata dalle montagne. Il susseguirsi delle arcate in cemento facciavista dona ritmo alla nuova veste architettonica della fabbrica e raccoglie all’interno la sua acqua cristallina come se fosse uno scrigno.

 

Palazzo della Libertà e centro Piacentiniano (1936 e 1940)

Covered entirely of Zandobbio marble, this monumental structure boasts an imposing portico with twelve pillars and is in close correlation within the square, built during Italy’s fascist regime, it is regarded not just an office building but as a monument to the past and a warning for the future.

 

Chiesa San Giovanni XXIII (2001-2004)

Incorporating a 17th century church, the complex designed by Mario Botta includes a long rectangular single-story building and a large square sanctuary covered in Verona stone. As the height increases, the building is geometrically carved so that the ceiling culminates in the shape of a cross.

 

Casinò di San Pellegrino Terme (1904-1906)

One of the greatest examples of Italian art nouveau, its construction was part of the modernization project of the city of San Pellegrino Terme in the early 1900s coinciding with the construction of the nearby Grand Hotel. Fully restored between 2010 and 2014, at the end of 2019 the building became the event space for the spa, now open to the public.

 

 

Palazzo Moroni (1636-1666) 

One of the oldest and most prestigious palaces located in the upper city. The large entrance doors lead to an inner courtyard where visitors can admire the garden that extends uphill along four seventeen-century terraces. The main floor, accessed from the grand double staircase, has a succession of rooms named after the seventeenth-century frescoes that decorate them and preserve invaluable works of art including paintings, furnishings and sculptures.

 

Palazzo Terzi (1631)

Two marriages led to two distinct building phases of the palace. The first phase, built in 1631, included the facade and the southern wing, while the second phase, a century later, featured the enlargement of the square in front of the building. The palace is a result of the countless hands that have decorated it over centuries and have contributed to the artistic evolution of the interior ornamentations according to the styles of the time.

 

Italcementi i.lab (2005-2012)

Parco scientifico Kilometro Rosso (2001-2007)

San Pellegrino Flagship Factory (2018-in corso) 

Palazzo della Libertà e centro Piacentiniano (1936 e 1940)

Chiesa San Giovanni XXIII (2001-2004)

Casinò di San Pellegrino Terme (1904-1906)

Palazzo Moroni (1636-1666) 

Palazzo Terzi (1631)