Italy’s new Culture Capitals 2023: Bergamo

29 December 2022
Written by
The Italy Insider

Your pocket guide to the city

Brescia and Bergamo have been nominated Italian Capitals of Culture 2023 for their cultural and artistic richness. To celebrate this occasion, the Light is Life exhibition will host six special guests – Angelo Bonello, Chila Kumari Burman, Marco Lodola, Federica Marangoni, Ivan Navarro and Oliver Ratsi – and will illuminate Brescia from 10 to 19 February and Bergamo from 17 to 26 February. If you have a genuine curiosity about Brescia and Bergamo and are tickled by the idea of visiting it while they are dressed in this triumph of light, in this article we will discover their wonders and secrets, discovering once again how surprisingly fascinating northern Italy can be.

what to see

Accademia Carrara

For anyone who dreams of art and history, the Accademia Carrara is a must-see. This space established in Bergamo in 1794 is the only Italian museum composed of legacies from important private collectors. Born as a museum dedicated to Renaissance painting – with great masterpieces such as those by Mantegna and Botticelli – over time it has become an art museum tout-court, with a broad representation of pictorial genres from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, a significant collection of drawings and prints, and precious nuclei of decorative arts, from fans to porcelain, from small bronzes to medals. The Accademia is currently undergoing renovations and is scheduled to reopen publicly from 28th January 2023 with the inauguration of the “new” museum and with the exhibition Cecco del Caravaggio. The Model Student, edited by Gianni Papi e M. Cristina Rodeschini (until the 4th June 2023). WEBSITE

Galleria d’Arte Moderna e contemporanea di Bergamo

The GAMeC – Bergamo’s Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art – was inaugurated in 1991 and is housed in the spaces of the former Monastery of the Dimesse and Servite, the restoration of which was carried out in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Over the years, its diversified programming has made it a multifaceted space capable of engaging different audiences. With its 1500 square metres of exhibition space, GAMeC is a place that welcomes modern and contemporary art in all its forms, with activities and temporary solo and group exhibitions by international artists. WEBSITE

Caravaggio – David con la Testa di Golia, Galleria Borghese, Roma – Ph. Credits: Mauro Coen

what to do

head to the città alta in a funicular

For more than 120 years, the funicular has connected the centre of Bergamo with the Città Alta, more precisely with Piazza Mercato delle Scarpe, home to many commercial activities. The city’s funicular railway is very popular among the people of Bergamo, who could not do without it: an exciting journey towards the sky that allows you to travel through history, travelling along the ancient Venetian walls that once defended Bergamo from enemy attacks. The two graceful cabins ascend and descend amidst flowering gardens and unique views and, on clear days, you can enjoy a panorama as far as the eye can see.

listen to Donizetti’s music in his birthplace

The Birthplace where Gaetano Donizetti was born in 1797 is a place of historical and cultural value, declared a national monument in 1926. The oldest part (the rooms inhabited by the Donizetti family) dates back to the 14th – 15th century and has retained its original appearance: an ideal backdrop for imagining everyday customs and behaviour of the past. Here there is no classic guide, but sound: “Impronte Sonore” accompanies the user not by sight, but by hearing: a sonorous narration of the past, in the noises of the times and places of the young Gaetano Donizetti. WEBSITE

enjoy Happy Hour at Pontida square

To experience the classic happy hour of a northern Italian, you must treat yourself with an aperitivo at a local venue. If you don’t know which one to choose, just make your way to Piazza Pontida: here a ring of bars and cafés surrounds the square, inviting passers-by to come in and enjoy the most joyful moment of the day.

The view from Bergamo Alta. Ph. Globetr8tters
Funicular. Ph. Globetr8tters

where to eat

Ristorante Casual di Enrico Bartolini

If you want to bite into some of the Bergamasque life and savour traditional flavours in a tastefully curated setting, you should reserve a table at Enrico Bartolini’s Casual restaurant. Located in the unique and fascinating setting of Città Alta, this restaurant reinterprets the gastronomic culture of the area in a contemporary key and offers tasty cuisine with a predominantly traditional outlook that nevertheless leaves room for innovation. Its interior design privileges the use of natural materials and relaxing tones, in a formal yet cosy atmosphere. WEBSITE

Osteria al GiGianca

Osteria Al Gigianca is a place that does not disregard the concept of excellent raw materials, relying on the experience of small and passionate local producers. By stopping by this place, you will discover an authentic and genuine approach to cooking, while also tasting a little of the love and sincerity of those who dedicate their souls to the success of the dishes every day. Sitting at their tables, you can also sample authentic ‘casonsei’, a rich first course typical of Bergamo cuisine. Alongside the dishes, which are as traditional as well as innovative, there is a wine cellar with a distinct personality, with more than 200 labels including wines from Italy, France and the rest of the world. WEBSITE

where to sleep


Da Vittorio Relais & Chateaux

Vittorio Cerea launched his name on the culinary scene over 50 years ago and since then, became an icon in the industry. The name continues to thrive thanks to Vittorio’s wife Bruna and their five children who play their part in managing the various properties. Enrico and Roberto Cerea curate and carry out the menu at the renowned Da Vittorio Ristorante, 3 Michelin Stars, here in Bergamo. The restaurant resides within Da Vittorio Relais & Chateaux, a residence located in the heart of the countryside 10 minutes away from the heart of Bergamo city centre. The estate surrounded by 10 hectares with a tennis court, a soccer field and two natural lakes, all within an idyllic natural setting. There are 10 rooms uniquely designed in calming, pastel coloured tones offering a sense of understated romance. For breakfast you can expect a unique touch by the Cerea brothers: a tasting-menu served in micro-portions based on sweet and savoury delights. WEBSITE

Discover Brescia

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