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Trip Report Very short trip report -- Bergamo, Italy

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Had a chance to do a little exploring of Bergamo recently, and here's a brief report. Was there on a Monday, though fortunately some things were open.

First, note well that the Galleria dell'Accademia Carrara is currently closed for restoration. Fortunately for me, ca. 15 of the museum's paintings (including canvases by Titian and Lotto and Bellini) are traveling around to various museums in the meantime, and they will be at the Metropolitan Museum in New York from May 15 to September 3, 2012. Will definitely go there to see them.

Three of Bergamo's attractions are located within steps of each other.

-The Duomo is rather plain from the outside (has a few statues and such) but floridly ornate inside, with lots of filigree ornament and several frescoes.

-Even better is the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. Again fairly plain on the outside, it is if anything more over-the-top inside than the Duomo next door. There are lots of large old tapestries that cover the walls as well as a few frescoes, some lovely carved wood panels on the choir stalls, and scads of ornamental detail covering all other surfaces. There are also tombs for two well-known Italian opera composers, Gaetano Donizetti and Giovanni Simone Mayr, as well as a plaque honoring Amilcare Ponchielli (it appears the last of these is actually buried in Milan, not here). The small baptistry for the church can be seen kitty-corner on the same square, but appears to not be open to the public.

-The Cappella Colleoni sits exactly next to the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, and it's open on Mondays during the summer (otherwise only Tuesday through Sunday). It's the most interesting of the three structures from the outside, full of detail work and also sporting small columns and statuary. Inside, there are two tombs in which are buried Bartolomeo Colleoni and his daughter, the former a notable soldier of the time who helped deliver Bergamo to the Venetian republic. The former's tomb has a large statue of him on horseback atop. The interior here is every bit as ornate as its neighbors and contains a small chapel area.

All these attractions are located in the old Città Alta. This part of town in fact reminds a lot of Toledo in Spain, with its hilltop location, narrow cobblestone streets, small shops and eateries, and well preserved old architecture. It's a lovely place to wander and explore, which I did.

Decided to take a local bus down to the train station and head into Milan, but traffic ground to a halt at the edge of Città Alta. There's an old arched gate (complete with carved Venetian lion relief) leading into and out of this part of the city, and a commercial truck that was too large for the opening had firmly wedged itself inside. At the bus driver's recommendation, decided to walk from there down the hill to the train station. This in fact was a good thing, as the walk goes past several large and fancy homes, then through the Città Bassa -- this part of town is attractive in its own right.

All in all, quite pleasant and worth a few hours to see.