Bergamo is like many Italian hill towns in that there is a cittá alta (high city) and cittá bassa (low city). The former is always the original fortified settlement, usually dating back many centuries. The latter is the expanded version, on flatter ground and convenient to modern transportation networks.
Bergamo’s cittá alta dates back to pre-Roman times. It is a glorious stack of settlements on top of settlements, topped with lots of modern charm.
My daughter’s research is taking place in the old archives, housed in a palace on the Piazza Vecchia. So, I accompanied her up to the old city, touring around in the Italian sunshine and stocking up on Vitamin D while she squirreled away in the stacks, and meeting for a yummy lunch afterwards.
There are a number of very small museums in the old town. I checked out four of them in about two hours. (They are really very small!) A historical museum, which was very multimedia and could be described as a “Bergamo Experience.” A somewhat overpriced “cathedral treasure” museum which did have some interesting information about the earlier churches on the site (and blingy chalices and monstrances, of course). And on the edge of town, an archaeological museum and a natural sciences museum, at both of which I was the only visitor.
Most exhibits were in Italian, which I don’t actually speak. However, I do speak fairly fluent Spanish, which helps a lot. I can usually get the gist of spoken Italian, and written Italian rarely presents a serious problem. This is one reason I love traveling in Italy–I can understand what’s going on around me much better than I can in Poland. Love me some Romance languages! And the sun, and the people, and the food…
I also climbed the Torre Civica. Because it was a tower, therefore it must be climbed. This one unusually had an elevator going most of the way up. I was the only person there as well and enjoyed a spectacular view. Until the giant bells right over my head started clanging! I nearly dropped my camera, and scurried down the stairs right quick.