Bergamo and Brescia the Italian Capitals of Culture 2023: a great occasion to organize a trip to one of the two cities! Here are the must-see attractions.
Bergamo and Brescia are the official Italian Capitals of Culture 2023. One more reason to organize a mini break or go for a weekend to one of these beautiful cities this year. Set out with Italo to discover the events, shows, and exhibitions dedicated to Art and Culture, the Festival of Lights and lots of concerts.
If you already have a trip in mind, below you can find out what it means to be a Capital of Culture, and the history of the title, as well as a list of things to do in each city, in order to enjoy them to the fullest: come with us!
- The Italian Capital of Culture and its history
- BGBS2023 project
- What to see and do in Bergamo
- Events in Bergamo
- Head out with Italo to Bergamo
- What to see and do in Brescia
- Events in Brescia
- Head to Brescia with Italo
1. The Italian Capital of Culture and its history
The Italian Capital of Culture was established in 2014 with the aim of supporting and enhancing the designated city’s cultural projects and activities. The title is awarded for one year and the winning city receives one million euros in funding to implement a proposed culture project.
In previous years, the title has been awarded to the cities of Cagliari, Lecce, Perugia, Ravenna, Siena in 2015; Mantua in 2016; Pistoia in 2017, Palermo in 2018, Parma in 2020 and extending into 2021 by the Relaunch Decree; and Procida in 2022. The Relaunch Decree also proclaimed both Bergamo and Brescia Italian Capitals of Culture for 2023, as a sign of solidarity for the victims of the pandemic.
The Italian Capital of Culture of 2024 will be Pesaro.
2. BGBS2023 project
The Italian government nominated Bergamo and Brescia as Italian Capitals of Culture 2023 in July 2020 in response to a joint proposal made by the two cities. The nomination was recognition of the history of the two cities and their artistic and cultural heritage.
The Illuminated City is the theme of the program proposed by the two cities, and the lights of culture are evident in the full program of events taking place throughout the entire year, from art exhibitions to operas, from concerts to scientific innovation. The spotlights were switched on with the inauguration ceremony and three days of celebrations on the 20, 21 and 22 January. Initiatives and parades were held in theatres, squares, and even in the streets of the two cities.
The inaugural ceremony of the Italian Capital of Culture 2023 was attended by the President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella, in Brescia, and the Minister of Culture Gennaro Sangiuliano, in Bergamo. The two city centers have already begun to come alive but the program laden with events will continue throughout the whole year.
The decision to bring together these two nearby cities as a united Capital of Culture in 2023 was intended to support the idea of them growing together and to unify their extraordinary histories and traditions, their entrepreneurial vocation and their ability to work together to accelerate the processes of a cultural relaunch.
After the dramatic pandemic, the mayors of the two cities, together with several local institutions, envisioned a project that could respond positively to the great challenges of these times.
In short, Bergamo-Brescia Italian Capital of Culture 2023 is a testimony to a cultural renaissance to build stronger social ties and a more stable economy for the two cities.
The two cities are even more connected thanks to the creation of two new bike and pedestrian paths: one being the path in the Via delle Due Sorelle and the other the 76 km bike path, the Cyclovia of Culture, in which you can cross 27 municipalities, 800 points of interest, and 3 regional natural parks.
Throughout 2023 there will be no shortage of special, interconnected events between the cities which will follow united themes. It starts with Brescia, with the Mille Miglia, the Teatro Grande Opera Festival and the Music Festival, then arrives in Bergamo with the Donizetti Opera Festival, the Donizetti Night and the Bergamo Film Meeting.
Finally, it’s possible to easily access museums, collections, historic buildings, gardens, and other exhibitions with a single card! With a single pass, valid for 365 days from date of purchase, you can enter any place participating in the initiative as often as you want, without limit. For more info go to abbonamentimusei.it.
As you can tell, this year’s calendar for the Capital of Culture is packed with things to do, and you will be able to enjoy, at any time of the year, the artistic and cultural heritage of the two Lombard cities with complete serenity.
3. What to see and do in Bergamo
2023 is the year in which you absolutely must visit Bergamo! To better organize a trip to this Capitol of Culture 2023, here are some interesting things so keep in mind. It’s sometimes called the City of the Thousand, referring to the historic expedition of Giuseppe Garibaldi, in which citizens of Bergamo participated. The city is famously divided into the Upper Town and the Lower Town. Check out our past posts on the three special places to visit from the bottom up and what to see in Bergamo on a day trip (including where to have the best polenta).
In preparation for this year’s events, edifices and squares of the Lower Town have been renovated with modern updates, such as the restoration of over 3,000 square meters of historic gardens overlooking the Venetian Walls, and the opening of foot and bike paths to move around the center and one extending even further to discover the surround areas.
Between the Upper Town and the Lower Town, in Bergamo, you can discover many cultural and artistic treasures, by visiting the Carrara Academy, one of the most important art galleries in the world; or the GAMeC, the Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art; or even the Donizetti Museum, dedicated to the Bergamo composer Gaetano Donizetti.
But this Lombard city is also ideal for a romantic weekend with 5 places that you don’t want to miss. While in Bergamo, don’t pass up the opportunity to visit the Museum of Natural Sciences, the Museum and Treasury of the Cathedral, the Cordani Exhibition Space. Another beautiful place to visit are the Libraries of Bergamo and to take a look around at the local artists and craftsmen.
4. Events in Bergamo
The main events in Bergamo throughout 2023, while joint Capital of Culture with Brescia are:
- Donizetti Night – The Bergamo night of music, words, images, and colors by and for Donizetti in the center of Bergamo.
- Exhibition – Cecco del Caravaggio, the Model Student – The first exhibition ever dedicated to Cecco del Caravaggio at the Carrara Academy in Piazza Giacomo Carrara, 82.
- Exhibition – Leap into the void – Art beyond matter at the GAMeC in via San Tomaso, 53.
From 03-02-2023 to 28-05-2023.
- WHAT A SHOW 2023! The cultural program of the Capital for the new generations at Theaters and Museums throughout the city – Center of Bergamo.
From 30-09-2023 to 16-12-2023.
- Fiberstorming – Exhibit of Fiber and Textile Art – a multi-location project at both the Bergamo Fair in via Lunga and the Hall of the EX Ateneo in Piazza Padre Reginaldo Giuliani.
- LIGHT IS LIFE – Bergamo – Festival of Lights A2A in Piazza della Cittadella, in Piazza Mascheroni, at the Chiostro del Carmine in via Bartolomeo Colleoni, 21, at the Donizetti Museum in via Arena, 9, at the Tempietto Santa Croce in Piazza Padre Reginaldo Giuliani, 25, in Piazza Vecchia, at the former Convent of San Francesco in Piazza Mercato del Fieno, 6/a, at the Rocca in via alla Rocca and at Palazzo Moroni in via Porta Dipinta, 12.
From 17-02-2023 to 26:02-2023.
- Exhibition – I, MEDEA. A legend about an untimely death and the Renaissance in Lombardy at the Luogo Pio della Pietà Istituto Bartolomeo Colleoni in via Bartolomeo Colleoni, 11 and at the Colleoni Chapel in Piazza Duomo in Bergamo Alta, 2.
From 16-03-2023 to 04-06-2023.
- The inaugural concert of the 60th Piano Festival – Festival Philharmonic, Pier Carlo Orizio conductor, Mikhail Pletnev pianist at the Donizetti Theater in Piazza Cavour, 15.
On 04-28-2023 at 20:00.
- COMICON – International Pop Culture Festival at the Bergamo Fair in via Lunga.
From 23-06-2023 to 25-06-2023.
- Exhibition – Vivian Suter. Home – The artist’s first exhibition in an Italian museum at the GAMeC in via San Tomaso, 53.
From 23-06-2023 to 24-09-2023.
For a complete list of events in Bergamo visit bergamobrescia2023.it
5. Head out with Italo to Bergamo
Reach Bergamo in utmost comfort thanks to Italo’s high-speed trains! Buy your modifiable, low-cost ticket now and head to the Capital of Culture 2023, with numerous routes connecting Bergamo the rest of Italy! When purchasing your ticket, remember to first log in to your account to take advantage of the Italo Più offers and rates for members only. If you haven’t already done so, you can register for free for the Italo Più Loyalty Program and immediately get a 5% discount on your first trip. You can also accumulate points on consecutive trips to earn free reward tickets.
Don’t miss out on a nice getaway to the greenery of Le Cornelle Park and if you want to end the day on a high note, here are the best restaurants in Bergamo to savor traditional dishes. Are you ready to visit Bergamo from the bottom to the top?
6. What to see and do in Brescia
Brescia is known as Lioness of Italy and 2023 is the ideal year to visit this city that still isn’t very touristy but has so much potential. In past posts we’ve written about what to see in Brescia, the city of a thousand surprises and how to visit Brescia from top to bottom.
However, there are still extraordinary treasures to note such as the Santa Giulia monastic complex deemed a World Heritage Site in 2011. Don’t wait, set off to discover the medieval city of Brescia, easily achieved on foot, for enchanting views, sights, and events during its year as the Italian Capital of Culture.
Start at the Museo del Risorgimento in Brescia with its new scenographic and technological set-up and then head to the Museo di Santa Giulia which this year has a busy calendar of events and exhibitions. There will be numerous exhibitions in Brixia, the Archaeological Park of Brescia Romana and in the Castle of Brescia. If you are a car lover, don’t miss the Mille Miglia Museum that will shed light on the history of motoring with its vintage cars. Finally, you can visit the Teatro Grande for the Opera Festival and then end up in the Piazza del Foro, the religious, commercial, and political heart of the city in Roman times.
In short, Brescia offers a robust schedule of exhibitions, events, and landmarks to carry you through the whole of 2023 and you can even explore underground Brescia, its art and archeology, while wandering through its metro stations.
7. Events in Brescia
The main events in Brescia throughout 2023, while joint Capital of Culture with Bergamo are:
- Exhibition – Lotto, Romanino, Moretto, Ceruti – The champions of painting in Brescia and Bergamo at Palazzo Martinengo in via Musei, 30.
- Exhibition – Foodprint – The Mediterranean Diet today at the Santa Giulia Museum in via Musei 81/B.
- Exhibition – Ukraine War Chronicles – Photographs from 2014 to 20228 at the MO.CA Palazzo Martinengo Colleoni in via Moretto, 78.
- Museum of the Risorgimento. Lioness of Italy – Reopened after twenty years with an innovative and immersive setting. Museum of the Risorgimento – Via del Castello, 9.
- Orchestra of Teatro La Fenice – Conductor Speranza Scappucci – Inauguration of the concert season of the Teatro Grande in Brescia in Corso Zanardelli.
on February 3, 2023.
- LIGHT IS LIFE – Brescia – Festival of Lights A2A in Piazza della Loggia, at the Capitolium in via dei Musei, 55, at the Castle in via del Castello, 9.
- From 10-02-2023 to 19-02-2023.
- Exhibition – Poverty and Nobility – Giacomo Ceruti in eighteenth-century Europe at the Santa Giulia Museum in via Musei, 81/b.
From 14-02-2023 to 28-05-2023.
- Exhibition – Davide Rivalta curated by Davide Ferri at the Castle of Brescia in via Castello, 9.
From 19-05-2023 to 07-01-2024.
- BRESCIA ART MARATHON – 21st edition – a running sporting event in Brescia – Meeting point for participants in Piazza Vittoria – Finish line at Largo Formentone – Starting from Piazza della Loggia.
On 12-3-2023 from 8:00 to 15:00.
- WHAT A SHOW 2023! The cultural program of the Capital for the new generations. At theaters and museums throughout the city – Center of Brescia.
From 30-09-2023 to 16-12-2023.
For a complete list of events in Bergamo visit bergamobrescia2023.it
8. Head to Brescia with Italo
Why wait to discover the charms of the Capital of Culture 2023? Choose one of Italo’s numerous daily trains to Brescia and depart from Verona, Bologna, Florence, Rome and Naples. When buying your modifiable, low-cost ticket remember to log in to your account to take advantage of any Italo Più offers and rates for members only. If you haven’t already done so, you can register for free for the Italo Più Loyalty Program and immediately get a 5% discount on your first trip and accumulate points on consecutive trips to earn free reward tickets. Don’t miss the Archaeological Park of Brescia, a Roman treasure in the heart of Lombardy, its quiet, unexplored beauty will leave you breathless! Finally, don’t forget to taste the best dishes the city offers, find out more with our restaurant guide to Brescia.