December is a magical time in Bergamo: find out what to do in town for Santa Lucia, the festivity dedicated to children that lights up the city with rides and candles.
Why should you visit Bergamo on Sanat Lucia day? It’s simple – because here Christmas comes early! Already in the days leading up to December 13, the date of the holiday dedicated to her, the city is clothed in a magical and fascinating light, and is enlivened by many events preceding and accompanying the children’s most memorable night, the night when the long-awaited gifts arrive!
According to a widespread tradition in Bergamo and other towns in the Po Valley, it is this young saint, and not Santa Claus, who brings presents to children who have behaved well throughout the year: on the night of 12 December, she arrives, silently, riding in her donkey-drawn cart, to grant wishes and leave toys and sweets.
The origins of the cult of Santa Lucia
Lucia was a Sicilian girl, born in Syracuse in the 3rd century A.D. later to become a martyr for not wanting to renounce her Christian faith, known today as the patron saint of the blind and ophthalmologists.
In the center of Bergamo, near the “Sentierone”, stands a church dedicated to her, at which local children bring their letters bearing good intentions, promises, and gift requests. Indeed, the whole city dons festive dress from early December in her honor, with many attractions not to be missed for a pleasant family trip. An opportunity to combine the sacred and secular and to party (a bit like what happens in Venice for the November Festa della Madonna della Salute, another event to experience at least once in a lifetime!).
Events and attractions for Santa Lucia
So, what is there to do in Bergamo around 13 December? Your children will love a ride on the famous Santa Lucia merry-go-round, which at this time is set up under the Torre dei Caduti, a stone’s throw from the Donizetti Theater. Unfortunately, a fire destroyed the original year this year, and a replica will be there for your enjoyment. The fire was a shock for the people of Bergamo, young and old, but the operators promptly got to work and are ready to treat the children to an attraction from another time, with its horses and the harmonious melody of its carillon – a unique thrill for young and old alike!
Also not to be missed is a trip to the Christmas markets set up on the Sentierone, the tree-lined, porticoed avenue in the lower city that local merchants built in 1620: here you can soak up the Christmas atmosphere and buy a few handicrafts, perhaps to put under the tree for loved ones (and if you love markets, why not extend your weekend with a visit to the markets of Trento?).
If all this is not enough for you and you want to give your children an even more fantastic trip? Why not also take them to Cornelle Park, the beautiful wildlife park where they can encounter many animals and learn to respect nature?
Getting to Bergamo with Italo
Are you wondering how to get to this beautiful city? Simply hop on one of the many High Speed trains to Bergamo and enjoy the ride.
The city calendar is full of important events, but it is also an ideal destination for a day trip (with an unmissable sampling of tasty polenta!). And it gets even more magical in December, when it dresses up for its saint: have your kids write a nice little letter and leave with the whole family!