||Bergamo (Bèrghem in Lombard) is a town in Lombardy, Italy, about 40km northeast of Milan. The commune is home to c. 117,000 inhabitants. It is served by the Orio al Serio International Airport, which also serves the Province of Bergamo, and to a lesser extent Milan. The foothills of the Alps begin immediately north of the town.
Bergamo occupies the site of the ancient town of Bergomum, founded as a settlement of the Celtic tribe of Cenomani. In 49 BC it became a Roman municipality, counting c. 10,000 inhabitants at its peak. An important hub on the military road between Friuli and Raetia, it was destroyed by Attila in the 5th century.
From the 6th century Bergamo was the seat of one of the most important Lombard duchies of northern Italy, together with Brescia, Trento and Cividale del Friuli: its first Lombard duke was Wallaris. After the conquest by Charlemagne of the Lombard Kingdom, it became the seat of a county under one Auteramus (died 816).
From the 11th century onwards Bergamo it was an independent commune, taking part to the Lombard League which defeated Frederick I Barbarossa in 1165. Caught in the bitter fights between Guelphs and Ghibellines, led in the city by the Colleoni and the Suardi respectively, from 1264 Bergamo was intermittently under the rule of Milan. In 1331 it gave itself to John of Bohemia, but later the Visconti of Milan reconquered it. After a short conquest by the Malatesta in 1407, in 1428 it fell under the control of the Venetian, remaining part of it until 1797. Notably, the Venetians fortified the higher portion of the town (see Main sights section).
In 1815 it was assigned to Austria. Giuseppe Garibaldi freed it 1859, and thenceforth Bergamo was part of the Kingdom of Italy.
Bergamo is the traditional birthplace of Arlecchino and Brighella, two popular characters of the commedia dell'arte,
Bergamo has a prominent place in music history. The large Romanesque church of Santa Maria Maggiore, begun in 1137, had a continuous and well-documented tradition of music teaching and singing for more than eight hundred years. Since the town was under Venetian control, the musical style of the Venetians was imported as well; in particular, a large instrumental ensemble grew up to support the choral singing. Composers such as Gasparo Alberti produced polychoral music with two organs, brass and viols, a style usually associated with Venice, but which flourished in the fine acoustical environment of Santa Maria Maggiore.
Prominent musicians born in Bergamo include Gaetano Donizetti, Pietro Locatelli, Antonio Lolli, and Gianluigi Trovesi. Alessandro Grandi, one of the most progressive composers of the early 17th century after Monteverdi, was maestro di cappella there until his death in the plague of 1630; Tarquinio Merula, an even more progressive composer, and one of the founders of the early sonata, took over his post.
A famous musician who lived in Bergamo was maestro Gianandrea Gavazzeni.
Bergamo was the hometown and last resting place of Enrico Rastelli, a highly technical and world famous juggler who lived in this town and, in 1931, died here at the early age of 34 years. There is a life-sized statue to Rastelli within his mausoleum.