Just 50km northeast of Milan, yet much closer to the mountains in look and feel, BERGAMO comprises two distinct parts – Bergamo Bassa, the modern city centre on the plain, and medieval Bergamo Alta, clinging to the rocky slopes 100m higher. Bergamo Bassa is a harmonious mixture of medieval cobbled quarters blending into late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century town planning, while Bergamo Alta is one of northern Italy's loveliest urban centres, with fresh mountain air, wanderable lanes and a lively, easygoing pace of life.
Bergamo owes much of its magic to the Venetians, who ruled the town for over 350 years, adorning facades and open spaces with the Venetian lion, symbol of the republic, and leaving a ring of gated walls. Now worn, mellow and overgrown with creepers, these kept armies out until the French invaded in 1796. Sample the best of Bergamo's atmosphere by roaming the alleyways which weave around the Piazza Vecchia and adjacent church of Santa Maria Maggiore.