Una giornata in Piazza Vecchia a Bergamo

A day in Piazza Vecchia in Bergamo

A day in Piazza Vecchia in Bergamo

Have you ever thought you could spend an entire day visiting just one square? This is possible in Bergamo with this itinerary “A day in Piazza Vecchia in Bergamo”!

A city with a lot of  resources, and Piazza Vecchia is the best resource of all. Many monuments, historic buildings and memories are located in just a few square meters.

A day in Piazza Vecchia in Bergamo is the best for those who want to get a small smattering of the city because here, in this square, you can see the entire history of Bergamo, from the Middle Ages to the present day, passing through Venetian rule and the Renaissance. And now, stand in the center of Piazza Vecchia, near the fountain, and slowly turn around until you do a full 360-degree tour.

How much history can you see? In every corner, within a short distance of each other, a succession of traces of those who preceded our day.

So if you’re planning an out-of-town trip and are looking forward to discovering Bergamo without walking too much, you’ve come to the right place!

Because we at Hotel San Rocco have thought for you a day-long itinerary in Bergamo’s Piazza Vecchia, with no travel planned, word of honor!

And now let’s go with our “ !

Una giornata in Piazza Vecchia a Bergamo

“A day in Piazza Vecchia in Bergamo” starts with Contarini Fountain

Let’s start from the center, there is a fountain dated 1780, which was donated to the city by the Venetian Podestà, Alvise Contarini

Contarini commissioned the creation of the Contarini Fountain at the end of his tenure as ruler of the city as a gift for Bergamo, a city to which he owed much. 

The main purpose of the gift was to relieve the citizens from the dramatic consequences of the drought that preoccupied the population in those years. Famines and epidemics were, in fact, the order of the day because of the lack of water!

Contarini Fountain was made entirely of local stone from Bergamo, in white marble from Zandobbio, and consists of an octagonal central basin and statues of sphinxes, lions and snakes surrounding the main basin, as if to protect it. 

The figures represented were not chosen at random, because the lions are symbolic of Venice, while the sphinxes symbolize man’s intelligence that enables him to face and overcome anything, such as, in this case, drought.

→ CURIOSITY: After the unification of Italy, the Contarini Fountain was replaced until 1922 with the statue of Garibaldi, later brought to the Rotonda di Mille.

Palazzo Vecchio, a must for “A day in Piazza Vecchia in Bergamo”

Let’s head, now, to the building that separates Piazza Vecchia and Piazza del Duomo, the Palazzo Vecchio

Palazzo Vecchio is one of the oldest municipal palaces in Italy and the oldest ever in Lombardy, built in the 12th century.

Its signature open portico connects the two squares, Piazza Vecchia and Piazza del Duomo.

The Palazzo Vecchio is also called the Palazzo della Ragione (Palace of Reason), this because of the function it had during the time of Venetian rule, the function of a court of law.

Here, judges listened to what were the problems and quarrels of the population, giving, in accordance with the law, their verdict using precise reason.

The condemned awaiting sentencing sat on what is now called the condemned stone, a stone distinguished from others by the white color with which it was made.

Inside the Palazzo Vecchio, today, it is possible to visit the Fresco Museum, located in the Sala delle Capriate, where tears from the frescoes once found on the facades of Bergamo‘s main buildings and churches are collected.

Walking on the sundial for “A day in Piazza Vecchia in Bergamo”

Let’s now walk under the arcades of the Palazzo Vecchio and observe the pavement… 

Here is the ‘special’ Sundial of Bergamo by G. Albrici. 

A dark chamber pavement sundial, a sundial that, unlike the usual ones, marks the position of the sun relative to the earth with a ray of light and not with a shadow.

At midday, the ray of light enters through the hole positioned on the ‘gnomon’. It is a bronze disk placed above the vault of the loggia, and makes it possible to identify the month, the season and the sign of the zodiac of the day.

Statue of Torquato Tasso

Still around the arcades of Palazzo Vecchio, but this time in the perimeter of Piazza Vecchia, on the left, we can not miss the Statue of Torquato Tasso. 

“But what does Torquato Tasso have to do with Bergamo?” you will ask! Well, Torquato Tasso was born in Sorrento, in the Kingdom of Naples, but to a family of ancient Bergamo nobility.

So much so that the poet was often in Bergamo as a guest of relatives who lived in the Tasso family palace in Via Pignolo. 

The epigraph commemorating his passage is still displayed today on the façade of the palace. He even wrote a sonnet dedicated to the city of Bergamo.

Torquato Tasso Statue was created by Giovanni Battista Vismara in the 17th century on commission from Marco Antonio Foppa with the aim of honoring the poet of Bergamo origin. 

Initially the idea was to place the Tasso Statue under the arches of Palazzo Nuovo, also in Piazza Vecchia.

Once the project was completed, the appearance and dimensions were not as imagined and it was decided to place it in a less visible location, the left corner of Piazza Vecchia.

→ CURIOSITY: the historical “Piazza Vecchia Caffè”, opened since 1476, originally called ‘Locanda delle due spade‘, changed its name in 1681, following the placement of the Statue and became “Caffè del Tasso”.

The Scalone dei Giuristi

Now let us head to the right of the square, towards the Scalone dei Giuristi.

Scalone dei Giuristi is an arcaded staircase that connects Piazza Vecchia to the two great palaces of Bergamo: Palazzo della Ragione and Palazzo del Podestà.

Our Scalone dei Giuristi was erected between the 15th and 16th centuries, when the architecture of Palazzo Vecchio was modified. 

The purpose was to create a gate to reach the first floor. 

All the wall of the Scalone dei Giuristi is studded with approximately forty tombstones of disparate origins.

Probably gravestones belonging to prestigious families from all over Bergamo.

Families whose palaces and residences, where the gravestones were originally kept, would have been damaged or destroyed.

Campanone, a must for “A day in Piazza Vecchia in Bergamo”

And now here we are, on the corner of Piazza Vecchia admiring the symbol of Bergamo, the strong Civic Tower, also called Campanone, a name taken from the characteristic tower bell.

For centuries now, the Campanone has been a real bell tower.

It was originally erected as a medieval tower to protect the Suardi family, Bergamo‘s prestigious Ghibelline family, during the battles between the Guelphs and Ghibellines. 

Later, the tower became the seat of the Podestà, during the communal period, while under Venetian rule it became a place of detention.

A few centuries later, when the municipality acquired ownership of the Civic Tower, it became the bell tower we know today. 

‘Inhabited’ by the largest bell in all of Lombardy cast in the adjacent Piazza del Duomo.

A bell that showed to the citizens the closing time of the city gates in the Venetian walls, for curfew.

→ CURIOSITY: Today, as then, every evening at 10 pm, the Campanone strikes its classic 100 chimes to signal the curfew and the closing of the gates in the walls, as during the period of Venetian domination.

The Podestà Palace

And right next to the Campanone, in all its grandeur, we come to the Podestà Palace.

A palace that tells the entire history of the city of Bergamo, based on the use that has been made of it over the centuries.

Built on commission by the Suardi family, the Podestà Palace, also known as Suardi Palace, was originally the home of the Suardi family.

The Suardi Family lost ownership of it following the city’s struggles between the Guelphs and Ghibellines. 

Podestà Palace thus became municipal property and was the residence of the podestà of the city of Bergamo for centuries.

But over the years, the Podestà Palace underwent numerous restorations and extensions, some of which were necessary following fires that led to its ruin. 

With the arrival in the city of Serenissima and therefore with Venetian rule over the city of Bergamo, the Podestà Palace became the center of justice administration.

In the 15th century, Bramante was commissioned to create paintings to decorate the façade of the palace.

There were seven completed paintings, but only two managed to be recovered and, today, they are preserved in the Museo dell’Affresco in Palazzo Vecchio.

Since 2012, the Podestà Palace has hosted the Sixteenth Century Museum.

A museum made up of seven rooms, in which, thanks to the help of interactivity, it is possible to relive the Renaissance era of the city of Bergamo, discovering the characters, the stories and the fashions that were made. 

“A day in Piazza Vecchia in Bergamo” ends with Palazzo Nuovo

Let us now move on to Via Colleoni where the breathtaking Palazzo Nuovo stands out! 

The Palazzo Nuovo, so called to underline the contrast with the Palazzo Vecchio, embraces different eras, in fact its construction lasted almost three centuries.

Its facade, made entirely of white marble from Zandobbio, was finished in 1928, but this was not the last finishing touches to the building.  In fact, In 1958, six statues were added.

And also the interior of Palazzo Nuovo, built in classical style, is breathtaking.

Camozzi Column and the bust of Colleoni in the atrium, and all the other rooms finely decorated and adorned with busts and portraits, are significant.

Today, Palazzo Nuovo is home to the famous Angelo Mai Civic Library, it keeps a collection of manuscripts, codes, parchments.  Also he Tasso collection and the one dedicated  to Pope John XXIII are also kept in this Civic Library.

The former Church of San Michele all’Arco

And from inside Palazzo Nuovo we enter the former Church of San Michele all’Arco, a small church deconsecrated since 1955 and encircled to Angelo Mai Civic Library.

Our former Church of San Michele all’Arco is now semi hidden by the Palazzo Nuovo and that is a shame! 

A frescoed dome full of shelves ‘inhabited’ by newspapers and periodicals from all over the world, like the entire collection of  La Repubblica, l’Eco di Bergamo and others.

So world journalism history is preserved here.


So here we are at the end of this tour, with a lot  of new knowledge and stories to tell and now it’s time for relaxing, so if you like this tour…don’t think about it… Book a room in our Hotel San Rocco just 15 minutes away from Bergamo!

Call now!