Bergamo and Brescia will be the joint Italian Capital of Culture for 2023.
In May 2020, during the first terrible wave of the long coronavirus pandemic, the two hard-hit Lombard cities united to submit their candidacy for the Capitale Italiana della Cultura. The Italian Culture Ministry awarded the distinction to the Bergamo and Brescia just two months later—a sign of hope and renewal.
Bergamo-Brescia 2023: La Città Illuminata
On March 2, 2022, Bergamo-Brescia presented its theme for 2023: La Città Illuminata (The City Illuminated). Within this theme, the cities will focus on four areas: the city and nature, the city of hidden treasures, the city that invents, and culture as a cure.
Speaking at the presentation in Milan, Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said:
“Giving these cities the nomination as Capital of Culture was not just a gesture of solidarity after the tragedy of the pandemic, but the certainty of finding an idea of ??[a] restart. And today more than ever investing in culture offers hope. This illuminated city will be the light after the night.”
The complete PDF dossier for the 2023 Bergamo-Brescia project is available (in Italian) here.
Cities of Culture—and a New Bike Path
Located east of Milan approximately 40 minutes to one hour by train, Brescia and Bergamo are two underrated cities with a lot to offer.
Some cultural and natural highlights include the Parco dei Colli di Bergamo and the Plis delle Colline di Brescia, the wines of Franciacorta and the Val Calepio, castles and cathedrals, and the shores of Lake Iseo. In addition to these, the area boasts the beautiful monastic complex of San Salvatore–Santa Giulia (a UNESCO site); paintings by Raphael (in both cities); and the birthplace of Michelangelo Merisi, aka Caravaggio.
Bergamo and Brescia have also announced the Ciclovia della Cultura (PDF, in Italian), a 75km bike route that will connect the two cities.
The bike route starts from Bergamo, “the upper town and the urban landscape of the plain”, and then continues towards the airport of Caravaggio and Seriate, along the river Serio; the “line” continues between Brusaporto, Costa di Mezzate and Montello, or rather the foothills landscape of the Bergamo vineyards and castles.
Then it continues towards Montello, Gorlago, Carobbio degli Angeli and Chiuduno, Grumello del Monte and Castelli Calepio, close to two valleys (the Val Calepio and the Oglio valley): it is here that it finally crosses and you arrive on Lake Iseo touching Sarnico and Paratico, passing the peat bogs and then continuing towards Franciacorta, from Provaglio d’Iseo to Borgonato di Corte Franca, and again Bornato, Passirano, Paderno Franciacorta and Rodengo Saiano (and the vineyards, and the castles). Finally, we approach the city and its hinterland: forward towards Gussago and Cellatica, among vineyards, hills and abbeys, and then you are in Brescia’s historic center.
More Italian Capitals of Culture
I am writing about the Bergamo-Brescia 2023 partnership on the day that the Italian Culture Ministry announced that Pesaro, in the Marches, would be the Italian Capital of Culture 2024.
This was the first in-person announcement of an Italian Capital of Culture since 2019, the year of Matera. The city of Parma served as Capitale Italiana della Cultura for 2020 and 2021 because of the pandemic. The Italian Capital of Culture for 2022 is Procida.
I’ll write more on Pesaro 2024 as details are released. In the meantime, here is Pesaro’s candidacy video: