Ber­ga­mo, the splen­did ci­ty on the hill

The Key to Bergamo Tourist Magazine - - Bergamo, The Splendid City On The Hill -

Tho­se who ar­ri­ve and see Ber­ga­mo for the fir­st ti­me can’t help but think that a good por­tion of its hi­sto­ry is found in the beau­ti­ful hill­top ci­ty. And this is pre­ci­se­ly the ca­se: 2,500 years are con­cen­tra­ted up the­re, and ma­ny ha­ve pas­sed sin­ce the tra­ces of the fir­st in­ha­bi­tan­ts, who da­te back to the fif­th cen­tu­ry BC, we­re di­sco­ve­red. An ex­ci­ting sto­ry to whi­ch new de­tails are con­ti­nuou­sly ad­ded as new ar­chaeo­lo­gi­cal in­ve­sti­ga­tions re­veal de­tails of the old ci­ty. It is the­re­fo­re no coin­ci­den­ce that Up­per Ber­ga­mo of­fers the vi­si­tor the pos­si­bi­li­ty of ma­king an ex­traor­di­na­ry ex­cur­sion com­bi­ning the beau­ty of the mo­nu­men­ts and lo­ca­tions wi­th the di­sco­ve­ry of the pa­st. We sug­ge­st star­ting wi­th the fu­ni­cu­lar, whi­ch from Lo­wer Ber­ga­mo (the sta­tion of de­par­tu­re is in Via­le Vit­to­rio Ema­nue­le) ta­kes you to the up­per part of the ci­ty. A short jour­ney that al­lo­ws you to ob­ser­ve Ber­ga­mo’s de­ve­lo­p­ment from a par­ti­cu­lar point of view: the mo­dern ci­ty be­low, whi­ch has de­ve­lo­ped, abo­ve all, in re­cent de­ca­des, and the an­cient one abo­ve, sur­roun­ded by the for­mi­da­ble walls that Ve­ni­ce built in the six­teen­th cen­tu­ry. On­ce ar­ri­ved, upon exi­ting the sta­tion, the vi­si­tor is wel­co­med by a spec­ta­cu­lar spa­ce that seems to be for­med from a thea­tre set. This is the Mer­ca­to del­le Scar­pe (shoe mar­ket), a squa­re that was on­ce a ma­jor traf­fic junc­tion: roads met co­ming from the ea­st - from Ve­ni­ce (via Por­ta Di­pin­ta) - and from the we­st - Mi­lan (via San Gia­co­mo). Due to the pre­sen­ce of the­se com­mu­ni­ca­tion rou­tes, it is be­lie­ved that the squa­re was ho­me to Ro­man Ber­ga­mo’s fir­st mar­ket. Via Gom­bi­to, whi­ch be­gins right by the exit of the fu­ni­cu­lar, is iden­ti­fied by the De­cu­ma­nus, one of the Ro­man ci­ty’s two main roads (the other is the Car­do) that span­ned the en­ti­re ci­ty from ea­st to we­st, an ur­ban axis that has re­mai­ned in­tact to this day. In the sa­me squa­re, on the right-hand si­de, Via Roc­ca be­gins wi­th a short climb that leads to the top of a hill - the hill of San­ta Eu­fe­mia - whi­ch is do­mi­na­ted by the Roc­ca, a for­tress wi­th four-teen­th cen­tu­ry ori­gins that has been mo­di­fied and up­da­ted wi­th de­fen­ces ma­ny ti­mes. Ac­cor­ding to tra­di­tion, it was he­re that the Ca­pi­tol buil­ding stood, a ve­ry im­por­tant buil­ding in the struc­tu­re of a Ro­man ci­ty. The De­cu­ma­nus of­fers the plea­su­re of a beau­ti­ful walk among­st shop win­do­ws, bars, re­stau­ran­ts and old buil­dings from Me­die­val Ber­ga­mo (don’t over­look the ad­ja­cent stree­ts!), but he­re no­thing can be seen of the Ro­man ci­ty. In the con­fi­ned spa­ce of the hill, the ci­ty was de­mo­li­shed and re­built ma­ny ti­mes and the re­mains of the fir­st ci­ty are un­der­ground. Eve­ry ti­me a mo­re in-dep­th dig ta­kes pla­ce, tra­ces of Ber­ga­mo from Ju­lius Cae­sar’s or Au­gu­stus’ era emer­ge. It was pre­ci­se­ly du­ring one of the­se ex­ca­va­tions that the foun­da­tions of hu­ts from the Iron Age we­re iden­ti­fied: the fir­st si­gn of a set­tle­ment on the hill of Ber­ga­mo, 2,500 years ago. Fur­ther ahead stands a hu­ge to­wer, whi­ch seems to ha­ve been built to guard what is the heart of Ro­man Ber­ga­mo’s roads, in the spot whe­re the De­cu­ma­num cros­sed the Car­do (nor­th - sou­th), re­pre­sen­ted to­day by Via San Lo­ren­zo and Via Ma­rio Lu­po. By no coin­ci­den­ce this area is cal­led Gom­bi­to, “Com­pi­tum” (La­tin for cros­sroads), whi­ch re­fers di­rec­tly to the Ro­man pla­ce na­me. A lit­tle fur­ther on lies the splen­did Piaz­za Vec­chia, do­mi­na­ted by the Tor­re del Co­mu­ne (Mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty To­wer). Re­cen­tly, at the ba­se of the Pa­laz­zo del Po­de­stà, the re­mains of the Fo­rum, one of the fun­da­men­tal struc­tu­res of Ro­man ci­ties, we­re un­co­ve­red. A vi­sit he­re is par­ti­cu­lar­ly im­por­tant be­cau­se it is part of the tour that leads to the Ve­ne­tian Hi­sto­ry Mu­seum, whi­ch has an in­te­rac­ti­ve sec­tion on the six­teen­th cen­tu­ry, a vi­sit that can be con­clu­ded wi­th a ri­de in a lift to the top of the to­wer, whi­ch of­fers splen­did pa­no­ra­mic views. On the other si­de, the new Mu­seum and Trea­su­re of the Ca­the­dral of­fers a fa­sci­na­ting jour­ney th­rou­gh ti­me that un­winds in the ba­se­ment of the Ca­the­dral, whe­re the foun­da­tions of th­ree mu­ch ol­der chur­ches we­re di­sco­ve­red, in­clu­ding a ear­ly Ch­ri­stian ba­si­li­ca from the fif­th cen­tu­ry. Af­ter Piaz­za Vec­chia, our tour con­ti­nues along the se­cond part of the De­cu­ma­nus, whi­ch cor­re­sponds to Via Col­leo­ni. He­re, un­der the Foun­tain of Saint Aga­tha, on the cor­ner of the street of the sa­me na­me, the re­mains of a mo­saic be­lon­ging to a Ro­man hou­se we­re found. Our walk ends at the lar­ge com­plex of the Ci­ta­del, whi­ch hou­ses the Ar­chaeo­lo­gi­cal Mu­seum. Among the sta­tues, gra­ve­sto­nes, urns, al­tars and ob­jec­ts di­splayed in its glass ca­ses, it is pos­si­ble to learn mo­re about ol­der Ber­ga­mo. Fre­scoes that de­co­ra­ted the walls of a hou­se da­ting back to Ro­man ti­mes can al­so be found, and wi­th me­ti­cu­lous re­co­ve­ry and re­sto­ra­tion work, th­ree rooms ha­ve been re­built as they we­re ori­gi­nal­ly: a Me­die­val to­wer was erec­ted abo­ve and the “do­mus” was for­got­ten un­der­ground. Al­mo­st a lit­tle Pom­pei.

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