Day 3 – Bergamo

Today I had plans to walk the Venetian walls, part of a UNESCO Heritage Site that includes walls the Venetians built for defense on the Dalmatian Coast in what’s now Croatia.

On the way down to the wall, I came across the Palazzo Moroni, a property of FAI, Fonde Ambiente Italiano, a non-profit that saves historic properties that are at risk of ruin.

The Moroni Palace is a 17th-century property that belonged to the wealthy Moroni family, which had made its fortune in growing mulberry trees and breeding silkworms. The family crest features a mulberry tree.

The enormous staircase leads to the noble floor where rooms are adorned in frescoes and tapestries.

A masterful method of preventing unwanted seating.

The palace is undergoing restoration, but an exhibition has been set up in the drawing room to show how paintings were displayed in Italian homes in the early 20th century.

The lighting is meant to convey what it must have been like prior to electricity. It’s an evocative glow, warm and comforting.

The palace is known for its gardens, and I spent some time wandering.

The vast acreage includes grape vines, orchards, meadows, a beaver colony and

expansive views to the lower city. It was wonderful to find this haven right in the center of Bergamo Alta. I heard not a peep from the massive throngs of tourists just outside the gates.

To avoid those crowds, I did walk part of the Venetian walls to the area called Largo Colle Aperto, site of one of the portals to the city. There I found a pleasant park-like area where I could rest on a bench.

But first I got a stracciatella gelato cone from La Marianna, where the flavor was invented in 1961. It is now the official flavor of Bergamo. I had to taste it before I leave. I got a scoop of chocolate on top and a scoop of stracciatella on the bottom.

Sitting on a bench and people-watching, I didn’t find much special about the stracciatella until I came across a giant chunk of chocolate within, and oh, yes, buonissima!

Next came the archaeological museum, which had a early loom replica but nothing much else of interest, the usual pottery shards and metal bits.

The Civic Museum of Natural Sciences is another story. This enormous complex is rich with displays of creatures current and prehistoric, designed to create wonder.

Most visitors were parents taking their children to see the animal kingdom, but perhaps as I did, surrounded by creatures of all kinds big and small, they felt like a child again too.

I was fascinated what was labeled “Il nostro formicaio,” our anthill, which showed the little busy bodies doing their thing.

After a brief rest, I attended an organ concert at the Basilica.

The organist next played Bach’s Passacaglia et thema fugatum, which brought me and many others in the audience to tears.

Afterwards I visited the Palazzo della Ragione, a 12th century building which has served as a town hall, a theater, a courthouse and more. I was tired and had to climb up many stairs, but it is closed on Mondays, my last day in Bergamo, so I thought I’d better do it now.

The climb provided a good view down to the Piazza Vecchia.

Frescoes from churches throughout the area have been placed on the walls. The blocks made of local stone form an installation by an British artist attempting to show something about COVID and isolation and the like, but they just served to take up space in this enormous room.

One of the frescoes caught my attention. It is the only one without a text describing provenance. I like the round border which seems so modern.

Tomorrow, my last day in Bergamo, I really will explore the lower city. Many museums are closed on Mondays, but I’ll see what I can see.

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