Italians on Italians
Beyond Toscano

Bergamo – city of builders and beauty

Bergamo isn’t top of most tourists’ must-see lists when visiting Italy, but for those willing to venture off the well-trodden path, a hidden gem awaits. 25 miles north west of Milan, Bergamo offers an authentic Italian experience a million miles away from the tourist-filled streets of Florence in summer. (Metaphorically, not geographically.)
The city is most famous for its legacy as home to some of Italy’s best builders. With an aptitude for hard work, the masons, bricklayers and construction workers of Bergamo were once in demand the world over.

It’s ironic that a city known in Italy for its masculine hard-workers should also be a place of graceful beauty, but Bergamo is just that, with pastel colored buildings, cobbled streets and numerous spires reaching for the sky. (Although the beauty is tinged with sadness when you learn that many of Bergamo’s craftsmen were enslaved and forced into building the city by the Italian Empire.)
Bergamo’s claims to fame aren’t all focused on hard graft. The city was home to renaissance artist Giovanni Battista Moroni, one of the sixteenth century’s great portrait painters, and the origins of the now iconic costume and mask of Harlequin.

Of course, Bergamo also has its local delicacies, most popular of which being fine cheeses like creamy taleggio and casoncelli pasta. Casoncelli is like a ravioli filled with meat and raisins and topped with bacon and sage butter – enough to fill the belly of even the hardest working builder.