Free Walking Tour of Bergamo (with Maps)

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Nestled in the Lombardy region of northern Italy, the enchanting city of Bergamo has long been a hidden gem in the realm of tourism, quietly awaiting its turn in the spotlight until it was bestowed with UNESCO World Heritage Status.

Resting gracefully on the hillside, fortified by majestic walls, the city extends a warm welcome through its four gates to the world beyond. Città Alta, the Upper Town, beckons visitors with its charming artisan workshops, concealed courtyards, graceful arcades, and the allure of long, meandering shadows.

This quintessential Italian city is a treasure trove of delights, a place where every corner promises to tantalize your senses and spirit. With a rich tapestry of experiences awaiting exploration, Bergamo is a destination where the flavours, culture, and history of Italy come together to create an unforgettable journey for the heart and soul.

Getting to Bergamo

By Car: Parking is generally free only within the white lines, while it is subject to payment within the blue lines. The yellow-striped car parks are reserved for residents. You can park by the train station at the Parcheggio Ex Gasometro off Via San Giovanni Bosco and head to the train station. It is not advisable to walk back here in the dark!

By Train: Bergamo railway station is directly connected to Milan, Lecco and Brescia (with connections for Lake Garda, Verona, and Venice). The journey times for Milan-Bergamo and Brescia-Bergamo are approximately one hour; the journey from Lecco to Bergamo takes about 40 minutes. Trains depart almost every hour.

Getting to Città Alta from the Train Station

As you come out of the train station the tourist office is on your right and the bus station is on your left. There is a 20 minute walk from here to the funicular, alternatively you can catch the bus from here. Head to the bus station ticket office where you can purchase your tourist pass at the bus station ticket office. A tourist ticket day pass ticket for about 4 Euro which will allow you to ride the bus up to the old town, as well as take 2 funiculars.

You will need to catch the T1 Line Stazione – Porta Nuova – (Roma) – (Vitt Emanuele) – Funicolare. Buses leave every 5-10 mint

Porta Nuova

Bergamo, Porta Nuova
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Van Loon

From the train station walk down Viale Papa Giovanni XXIII (Pope John XXIII) to the Porta Nuova (8mins).

The first thing you will see of the Porta Nuova are a pair of colonnaded, neoclassical buildings dating from the 1830s. These were old customs houses by the city gate into the lower town of Bergamo.

Location: Porta Nuova, Largo Porta Nuova, Bergamo, Province of Bergamo, Italy
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Take a ride up Bergamo's funicular

Bergamo Funicular
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Geobia

Carry on straight down the via Roma to the Bergamo funicula (11 mins).

Take the most impressive means of transport into the old city. The Lower Funicular has been connecting the centre of Bergamo with the Upper Town (“Città Alta”) for more than 120 years, more precisely with Piazza Mercato delle Scarpe, where many business activities used to be carried out. The square (whose name means “shoes market square”) was used as a shoes market since 1430, while the building overlooking the square used to be the headquarter of the shoemakers’ guild and it currently hosts the funicular station.

Location: V.le V. Emanuele II, 58, 24121 Bergamo BG, Italy
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Rocca Museum

Bergamo Rocca
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Lauramagri712

From the Stazione superiore funicolare (Funicular upper station), you come out into the Piazza Mercato delle Scarpe. Go directly opposite and up the Via Alla Rocca, following it to the right.

The Rocca Museum is an imposing 14th-c. stronghold with a tower offering panoramic views & a museum of Bergamo’s history.

Location: Rocca di Bergamo, Piazzale Brigata Legnano, Bergamo, Province of Bergamo, Italy | Hours: 9.30am-1pm & 2.30-6pm Tue-Sun | Price: museum €3, grounds free
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Torre di Gombito

Torre Del Gombito
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Lauramagri712

Head back to Piazza Mercato delle Scarpe. Go directly opposite and walk up Via Gombito for about 1 minutes and you will reach the tourist office and Torre di Gombito.

You used to be able to climb the 263 steps to the top of the 12th-century Gombito Tower, this is not possible for the foreseeable future.

Location: Torre del Gombito, Bergamo, Province of Bergamo, Italy | Hours: Visits must be reserved in advance at the tourist office, which is at the base of the tower, and leave at 10am, 10.45am, 11.30am, 2.30pm, 3.15pm and 4pm on Mondays.
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Piazza Vecchia

Bergamo, Piazza Vecchia
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Steffen Schmitz

Carry on up the Via Gombito to reach Piazza Vecchia.

Piazza Vecchia the core of Città Alta. As you enter it on your left is the Palazzo Nuovo or New Palace, which served as Bergamo’s Town Hall until 1873. Today it is the seat of the Angelo Mai Library. Its incredible collection includes ancient and precious books: incunabula, books from the 1500s, engravings, manuscripts and other inestimable artefacts making it one of the most outstanding libraries in Italy. Directly opposite this is the Palazzo della Ragione, the oldest municipal seat in Lombardy. In the northwest side of Piazza Vecchia, the fresco-dappled Palazzo del Podestà was traditionally home to Venice’s representative in Bergamo. Today, the medieval building houses a small imaginative museum with audiovisual and interactive displays that tell the story of Bergamo’s Venetian age. Admission also includes access to the Torre del Campanone, with superb views over Bergamo.

Location: Piazza Vecchia Bergamo Alta, Piazza Vecchia, Bergamo, Province of Bergamo, Italy
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Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

Basilica Of Santa Maria Maggiore, 12th 14th Centuries, Bergamo
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Prof. Mortel

Walk directly behind the Palazzo della Ragione to reach the Piazza del Duomo (Cathedral Square).

On your right you will see the octagonal Battistero di Bergamo, directly in front of you the Cappella Colleoni a 15th-century funerary chapel with its coloured marble exterior & frescoed ceiling inside. To the left and behind the Cappella Colleoni is the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore built in 1137  and to its right with its  neo-classical facade the Cathedral of Sant’Alessandro, built in 1459.

Location: Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, Piazza Duomo, Bergamo, Province of Bergamo, Italy | Hours: 9am-12.30pm & 2.30-6pm Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm Sat & Sun Apr-Oct, shorter hours Nov-Mar
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Cappella Colleoni

Cappella Colleoni, Bergamo
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Ben Bender

The Cappella Colleoni, situated on the north side of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, stands as a splendid mausoleum and chapel that was constructed between 1472 and 1476. Its purpose was to honor the memory of Bartolomeo Colleoni (c. 1400–1475), a renowned Bergamese mercenary commander who led the armies of Venice in campaigns across northern Italy. Bartolomeo Colleoni now rests within this magnificent tomb.

Beneath the central dome of the chapel, Venetian rococo master Giambattista Tiepolo (1696–1770) adorned the interior with exquisite frescoes. The exterior of the chapel is adorned with a stunning display of red and white marble, showcasing an authentic Italian Renaissance masterpiece. Inside, you will encounter a captivating array of artworks, including the equestrian statue of Bartolomeo Colleoni, the marble sarcophagi, the exquisite tomb of his daughter Medea, and the intricately designed wooden desks.

Location: Cappella Colleoni, Piazza Duomo, Bergamo, Province of Bergamo, Italy | Hours: 9am-12.30pm & 2-6.30pm Mar-Oct, 9am-12.30pm & 2-4.30pm Tue-Sun Nov-Feb
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Battistero di Bergamo

Baptistery Of Bergamo
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Prof. Mortel

The Baptistery of the Cathedral is not just a physical structure but a profound embodiment of history, art, and faith.

It is a place steeped in history, spanning centuries. Its origins trace back to 1340 when it was built by Giovanni da Campione. However, it carries the legacy of an ancient baptistery that had stood near the Cathedral since the early days of Christianity, dating back to the 5th century. The Baptistery’s connection to the Cathedral is longstanding. Initially situated within the confines of S. Maria Maggiore, which, until the 15th century, was part of the same cathedral complex as the ancient church of S. Vincenzo. When S. Maria became independent from the Cathedral, the Baptistery was dismantled in 1660 and relocated first to the cloister of the Rectory and later, in 1898, to its present location in front of the Cathedral.

As a place of art, the Baptistery holds significant artistic treasures. It houses two remarkable sculptural cycles crafted by Giovanni da Campione: eight panels depicting key events from the life of Jesus Christ (such as the Annunciation, Nativity, Adoration of the Magi, Presentation in the Temple, Baptism, Capture and Condemnation, Crucifixion, Deposition, and Resurrection) within its walls. On the external corners, statues representing the theological Virtues (Faith, Hope, Charity) and the Cardinal Virtues (Justice, Prudence, Fortitude, Temperance) are displayed, with the virtue of Patience completing the ensemble. These original Gothic architectural elements were complemented during the relocation process.

Above all, the Baptistery is a place of faith where Christians receive the sacrament of baptism and embark on their journey of bearing witness to their commitment to Christ. It is where they are baptized and symbolically participate in the death and resurrection of Christ, supported by the grace received in baptism and nurtured through the other sacraments. The Baptistery’s octagonal shape symbolizes the fullness of God’s gift, the resurrection of Christ, and the new creation that baptism signifies.

This sacred space serves as a powerful reminder of the Christian heritage of our city and civilization, connecting us to our deep spiritual roots.

Location: Battistero di Bergamo Piazza Padre Reginaldo Giuliani 24129 Bergamo BG Italy
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Torre del Campanone, Bergmao

Torre Del Campanone, Bergmao
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Calips

In the center of Piazza Vecchia stands the Civic Tower, fondly referred to as the Campanone. This impressive structure soars to a height of 52.76 meters and grants visitors a truly awe-inspiring panoramic view of the historic old town.

At its summit, which can be reached either by ascending 230 steps on foot or more comfortably via an elevator, resides the largest bell in Lombardy. To this day, at the stroke of 10 pm each night, the Campanone tolls one hundred times, serving as an enduring reminder of a bygone era when the city gates along the walls were sealed during the rule of the Venetians.

Location: Campanone, Piazza Vecchia, Bergamo, Province of Bergamo, Italy | Hours: 10am-6pm Tue-Fri, to 8pm Sat & Sun Apr-Oct, reduced hours winter | Price: adult/reduced incl Podestà €5/3
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Palazzo del Podestà

Bergamo, Palazzo Del Podesta
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Steffen Schmitz

Adjacent to the Palazzo della Ragione, symbolizing civil authority, and the Bishopric, representing religious authority, the Palazzo del Podestà stands as a commanding presence overseeing the two main squares that served as the epicenters of medieval Bergamo: Piazza Duomo and Piazza Vecchia.

Constructed towards the conclusion of the 12th century, this magnificent palace was commissioned by the influential Suardi-Colleoni family, who generously offered it to the city. Over time, it evolved into the official residence of the Podestà, a foreign governor appointed for a six-month term to govern the municipality. In times of necessity, the Podestà had access to the prisons situated beneath the Civic Tower.

During the extensive period of Venetian rule, which commenced in 1428, the building underwent significant expansion and structural modifications, transforming it into the central hub for the administration of justice within the city.

Location: Piazza Vecchia, 5, 24129 Bergamo BG, Italy | Hours: 10am-1pm & 2.30-6pm Tue-Fri, 10am-7pm Sat & Sun | Price: adult/reduced incl Torre del Campanone €5/3 | Website
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Museo di Scienze Naturali e Archeologico, Bergamo

Museo Di Scienze Naturali

Head back to the Piazza Vecchia and leave by the north west alley into Via Bartolomeo Colleoni. As you come out into the open in front of you is the impressive Cittadella

Location: Museo di Scienze Naturali E. Caffi, Piazza della Cittadella, Bergamo, Province of Bergamo, Italy | Hours: 9am-12.30pm & 2.30-6pm Tue-Sun | Price: Museo Civico Scienze Naturali €3 | Website
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Torre Castello San Vigilio

Il Castello Di Berganmo In San Vigilio
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Ambrosio2004

Head diagonally across the Piazza della Cittadella and through the arch. With the views on your left walk 50 meters and you will see some brown signs pointing to the left towards the Funicular San Vigilio and the Castello San Vigilio. You need to pass through Porta Sant’Alessandro to be back within the city walls. Catch the Funicolare S. Vigilio to the top of the hill.

Parco Del Castello Di San Vigilio is clearly visible symbol of power, the Castle of San Vigilio has for centuries been the residence Bergamo rulers for centuries. It is located 496 meters above the sea level, on top of the hill that gives it its name, overlooking the Città Alta: that’s why it used to have a strategic role in case of attacks.

Location: Torre Castello San Vigilio, Via al Castello, Bergamo, Province of Bergamo, Italy | Hours: 1st November to 31st March 8am - 5pm1st of April to 31st October 7am - 9pm | Price: Free
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Venetian Walls, Bergamo

Venetian Walls, Bergamo
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Zairon

Head back down the funicular and through the Porta Sant’Alessandro. bear left and walk down the Viale delle Mura. The Cittadella is the first lage building bloack on your right, the second being the Episcopal Seminary Giovanni XXIII. As the road turns sharply to the left you come to the Parco di San Giovanni or Park of St John.

Bergamo’s magnificent Venetian Walls encircle a circuit spanning over six kilometers, making it the ideal locale for a romantic stroll and the perfect vantage point to savor breathtaking sunsets. These walls have safeguarded the splendors of the Upper Town for more than four centuries and are honored as a UNESCO World Heritage site, a testament to their invaluable artistic and cultural significance.

Their construction commenced in 1561 under the jurisdiction of the Republic of Venice, initiated as a defense against potential enemy incursions. Remarkably, history, perhaps entranced by their sheer beauty, spared these fortifications from ever experiencing a siege. Consequently, they have endured virtually unchanged to the present day.

Comprising 14 bastions, 2 platforms, 100 embrasures for cannons, 2 armories, and four gates, not to mention an intricate network of underground structures featuring sallies, passages, and tunnels, the Venetian Walls offer a wealth of exploration opportunities. Don’t miss the chance to venture within the walls and explore the casemates of San Michele and San Giovanni!

However, the construction of these walls necessitated the demolition of over 250 buildings, including 8 religious establishments like the Sant’Alessandro Cathedral and the Dominican convent of Santo Stefano. Consequently, eight excommunications were issued during the course of these works.

A multitude of workers, under the guidance of both Venetian and Bergamo architects, were engaged in raising these formidable defenses due to the sheer scale of the undertaking.

The UNESCO World Heritage designation integrates the Venetian Walls into a broader, transnational site titled “Venetian fortifications between XVI and XVII Century,” intended to highlight the collective defensive systems erected by the Republic of Venice during the 16th and 17th centuries.

It’s noteworthy that some sections of these walls can trace their origins back to the Roman era, with documentation dating as far back as the 8th century. Remnants of these ancient fortifications can still be observed in locations such as via Vagine, beneath the Santa Grata cloister, and on the left side of Viale delle Mura, to the west of the funicular layout (formerly via degli Anditi). Although these ruins were in dire disrepair by the early 16th century, they were nearly entirely replaced by the new Venetian Walls, resulting in a completely fresh defensive perimeter without any vestiges of the prior fortifications.

Location: Baluardo di San Giovanni, Bergamo, Province of Bergamo, Italy
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Porta San Giacomo

Porta San Giacomo Bergamo
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Moahim

Follow the wall of the city around until you come to the Porta San Giacomo.

Landmark white marble gate & stone viaduct overlooking the plain, preserved from a ruined city wall. 

from here either take the Via S. Giacomo to the funicular, which yo catch to get to the bottom, or walk down the ramp and head left to catch the bus back to the station.

Location: Porta San Giacomo, Via Sant'Alessandro, Bergamo, Province of Bergamo, Italy
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Tours and Activities from Bergamo