After discovering the upper town, my tale of two cities continued in the heart of Bergamo’s Citta Bassa — the Lower Town.
Travel to Bergamo: Citta Bassa
In my last Travel Europe post, I wrote about the upper area’s charming maze of cobblestone roads that merged within its walled village, rich with the atmosphere of old Europe.
There, at the central square’s 12th century Civic Tower, a giant bell rung many times of the day — a tribute dedicated to the upper town’s storied past. I’d soon discover the city’s Citta Bassa, also known as the Lower Town, had a tower of its own built to mark the turn of another era.
Highlights of Bergamo Lower Town
Torre dei Caduti/Tower of the Fallen
Huddled under my umbrella and following our local guides, we walked together from the city’s funicular cable car to reach our first stop in the lower town. We arrived at the Torre dei Caduti located in Piazza Vittorio Veneto off of Via Sentierone.
I climbed up the tower’s stairs, my pulse racing a bit as I reached the final flight of the 45-meter-tall tower. There, beautiful panoramic views of both of Bergamo’s towns opened up before us. On one side, the upper town’s thick stone walls and its fairy tale skyline of centuries old churches and buildings dampened under mist and rain.
On the other side, the expanse of the lower town’s well-planned streets continued in the distance, a stretch of parallel roads extending away from the tower.
The city’s trees had turned to their autumn colors complimenting the earthy tones of its buildings. It was clearly the best point to see the city’s modern skyline.
The tower’s name was Torre dei Caduti which translates to the Tower of the Fallen. It was built as a 20th century war memorial tower to honor the citizens of Bergamo killed during World War I.
Teatro Donizetti/Donizetti Opera House
Next, we crossed the street heading east of Piazza Matteotti to find another centerpiece of Bergamo’s lower town, the Teatro Donizetti. Founded in 1786, it was eventually named after Gaetano Donizetti, an accomplished opera composer from Bergamo.
Later during the trip, our group experienced a night at the opera. I love opera and I hadn’t been in a while so I was really anticipating the opera experience in Italy again. It happened to be a comic opera or opera buffa by Donizetti himself called Don Pasquale. The upbeat and energetic performance in three acts opened the theater’s 2015-16 season.
I loved the colorful creative costumes, the fabulous singing and the opera’s story itself. An enthusiastic crowd packed the beautiful and elegant venue, from the stalls to across the balconies and the box seats. I was happy to be in the center of it all.
Carrara Academy/Accademia Carrara
Technically located in the Citta Bassa, the Carrara Academy was also a highlight. I mentioned in my last post due to its location just outside the Citta Alta’s upper town walls. The recently restored and reopened gallery showcased Italy’s leading provincial art collections with the oldest works dated back the 15th century.
Walk About Lower Town
Bergamo’s Citta Bassa presented a pleasing contrast to the old world charms of its Citta Alta. Wide clean streets, buildings adorned with neoclassical touches, interconnected squares and open promenades lined the central district that we walked through called Porta Nuova.
It was easy walk from the cable car. With more hours in the day, this part of Bergamo would be a perfect starting point for more exploration – shopping, cafes, restaurants and all the rest that a pretty city in Italy’s north can offer.
So, which one will it be? The Citta Alta aka Upper Town or Cita Bassa aka Lower Town? For the full experience of one city formed by two tales, exploring both is a must.
For more about Bergamo, check out my Travel Europe: Bergamo, Italy mini-guide. Also, visit my earlier posts from my first trip there.
Have you been to Bergamo Upper Town? How about Bergamo’s fantastic opera performances?