3 marzo 2023
by Guendalina Dainelli

Lights in Bergamo and a rhinoceros in Brescia


Since early January, there has even been a rhinoceros suspended in the Quadriportico della Vittoria in Brescia to mark the start of the year as Italian Capital of Culture 2023. A journey that Brescia is preparing to undertake with its sister Bergamo. Cities of manufacturing, industry and business, ready to show their lesser-known side and to amaze residents and visitors. The photo-journalist Andrea Cherchi wasted no time in capturing local sentiment. Under the first blanket of snow of the year, walking through the narrow streets, mingling with the locals, he describes the two cities through his pictures and, coming from Milan, is immune to accusations of taking sides: “I have many friends from Bergamo and many from Brescia. The temptation to see it as a sort of derby for us Lombards, ambitious and competitive as we are, is always strong. Maybe because there actually aren't that many differences but rather lots of similarities. The biggest similarity is the desire to do good. Eagerness is the common denominator. Between the Oglio and the Adda [TN: rivers in the respective cities], rigor and enthusiasm abound in equal measure.”

Cities of manufacturing, industry and business, ready to show their lesser-known side and to amaze residents and visitors in their year

In short, the curtain has opened, with its load of red carpets, spotlights, European prominence, the cameras turned on in unison at the Teatro Grande in Brescia and at the Donizetti in Bergamo, attended by the highest Italian authorities, first and foremost the President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella. Bergamo, with its Piazza Vecchia, is simply “perfect” according to Le Corbusier. And Brescia is the “Lioness of Italy”, as described by Giosuè Carducci, in homage to the valiant resistance against the Austrian occupiers during the insurrection which culminated in the insurrection known as the Ten Days of Brescia.

The former, birthplace of Gaetano Donizetti, a contemporary of Gioachino Rossini and Vincenzo Bellini, giants of the Italian Opera, which flourished in the early 19th century. A double city: (lower) Bergamo Bassa and (upper) Bergamo Alta. A trove of treasures guarded by the Accademia Carrara. The latter, the city with two cathedrals - Old Cathedral and the New Cathedral - built side by side to compete for the stage, with the Brixia Archaeological Park and the Santa Giulia Museum, a World Heritage Site.

Acting as a hinge is the new Ciclovia della Cultura, whose route has been officially finalized. The cycle path will be approximately 46 miles long and will be created by redeveloping existing sections and adding new paths yet to be built. The route passes by Lake Iseo and includes around 800 assets of historical and cultural interest, including castles, such as Val Calepio and Franciacorta, monasteries, villas, old town centers, outlying villages and farmsteads.

‘La città illuminata’ (The Illuminated, or Enlightened, City) is the theme chosen for Bergamo, a community that is getting back on its feet and moving forwards after the dark months of the pandemic, impatient to begin its own mini-Renaissance. ‘Il peso del tempo sospeso’ (The Weight of Suspended Time) is instead the title of the work that hangs in the entrance to Piazza Vittoria, perhaps equally significant. Created by Stefano Bombardieri, a conceptual artist famous for his wild and mythological bestiary in bronze, the rhinoceros is inspired by a scene from the movie And the Ship Sails On by Federico Fellini, in which the sick animal is hoisted onto an ocean liner bound for America.

This bizarre and dreamlike image, according to local stories, described a similar situation of illness and “imprisonment” suffered by the artist. And who knows, it may also serve, so to speak, to ward off evil. Meanwhile, a guy takes a selfie with the rhino behind him. The squares fill up, despite the biting cold. The lights come back on, not just because darkness is falling. The party, for everyone, has already begun.

Seguici su