Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore


Bergamo's most striking church, begun in 1137, is quite a mishmash of styles. To its whirl of Romanesque apses (on which some external frescoes remain visible), Gothic additions were added. Influences seem to come from afar, with dual-colour banding (black and white, and rose and white) typical of Tuscany and an interesting trompe l'œil pattern on part of the facade. Highlights include wooden marquetry designed by Lorenzo Lotto and the funerary tomb of the great Bergamo-born composer Gaetano Donizetti.

According to legend, the people of Bergamo begged for protection from the Virgin Mary during a terrible outbreak of the plague in the early 1100s. When the town was spared, Bergamo made good on its word and began construction on the massive Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore.

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