Glimmering on top of high hill, the original medieval town sits, presiding over the more current metropolis of Bergamo. Palaces, churches, and huge, thick stone fortifications used to defend Venice from the Milanese, Spanish and finally Austrian, describe the citta' alta (high city) as do narrow, cobblestoned streets lined with houses little affected by the march of time. Below the citta' bassa (low city) is a more modern cityscape that began in the 16th century, home to most of the city's 120,000 residents. Midway between is the Galleria dell'Accademia Carrara, one of the best provincial art museums in the country and is crowded with high quality Renaissance art.
Much of the city's architecture is an interesting mix of Romanesque, Venetian Renaissance and attractive early 20th century Rationalist style. The heart of the citta' bassa was built in the 1910s and 1920s by Marcello Piacentini and features wide tree-lined avenues and a pedestrian walkway, the Sentierone (the big path) covered with trees and dotted with cafes.
Bergamo's old city, the citta' alta, is the place to experience a beautiful old city with its pedestrian and visual pleasures and is well worth a visit in its own right. Paired with that is an excellent art museum and a compact vibrant modern city.