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Bergamo Brescia: Italian capital of culture 2023

Culture is the glue that binds us together in diversity, the light breaking through the darkness, a source of solace and healing for the wounds inflicted by the pandemic.

This is the guiding idea behind the decision to shine a spotlight on these two cities of Lombardy, awarding them both with the title of Italian City of Culture 2023. They may be geographically very close to one another, but the two cities have not always been the best of friends. Now, however, they join hands united by a renewed positive outlook and hope for the future. 

Let’s start with Bergamo, Lombardy's provincial capital rich in history, art and a variety of attractions; a perfect weekend getaway destination where you can explore the stunning cityscapes, a testament to centuries of well-preserved beauty. Why not venture into the Città Alta (“Upper Town”) – the beating heart of the city – accessible by the historic funicular railway that connects it to the centre and about which Le Corbusier once remarked: "You can't move a single stone, it would be a crime". Follow with a stroll around the Venetian Walls, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site for their grandeur and incredible state of preservation. Or otherwise, embark on a journey to discover the history of Italian painting at the Accademia Carrara, home to masterpieces by Italian Renaissance masters such as Botticelli, Raphael, Titian, and Bergamasque portrait artist Moroni. Or even plunge into the contemporary art world in the nearby GAMeC (Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art), housed within a restored 15th-century architectural complex. 

A welcoming and inclusive city known for both its ability to transform raw materials into high-tech goods and its cultural history, Brescia has an equal amount to offer. Nicknamed "the Lioness" by Giosuè Carducci in memory of the revolt against the Austrian army, the city is currently experiencing a renaissance, striking the perfect balance between its industrial calling and its role as a capital of history, art, entertainment and sports. Redeveloped with new green urban spaces and a pedestrianised area, the historic centre is graced by Santa Giulia – City Museum, the Archeological Park of Roman Brixia, the Castle on Cidneo Hill and the Mille Miglia Museum, opened in 2004. A provincial capital that stands to be admired for the spacious Piazza della Vittoria, the foyers of Teatro Grande, the animated nightlife of Contrada del Carmine, and the Renaissance beauty of the porticoes in Piazza Loggia.

Being crowned Capital of Culture 2023 will therefore be an extraordinary opportunity to boost the remarkable heritage of both cities' with new cultural offerings, as well as an opportunity to establish a calendar packed with international events revolving around art, culture and current affairs. The title is destined to arouse curiosity and captivate a large number of visitors who are expected to come to Lombardy this year.

 

BERGAMO-BRESCIA 2023: TWO ENLIGHTENED CITIES 

The theme of Bergamo-Brescia 2023 is The Enlightened City, a starting point upon which to build creative momentum that will extend far beyond this year. Such a title signifies an open, tolerant and open-minded region that views diversity not as a limitation but as an ever-enriching asset and where the best of culture becomes a tool for evolution, change and awakening

Scrupulously selected to allow the two cities to best express their identities while trying to heal the social rift that has come to dominate in recent years, the calendar of events and projects was laid out in a dossier. This important document was the result of participatory planning involving universities and schools, businesses and craft industries, the food and wine sector, the tourism industry and associations, in addition to the Departments of Culture

The "Dossier Bergamo-Brescia Capital of Culture 2023: The Enlightened City" is divided into 4 main fields of action:

●    "Culture as a Cure" - linked to issues arising from the trauma of the pandemic. Culture is considered a way to promote healing in today's particularly fragile society.

●    "The City of Nature" - reflecting on the major challenge facing us this century. It aims to provoke reflection on the not-so-simple relationship between urban and natural spaces in order to make both cities greener and more sustainable.

●    "The City of Hidden Treasures"- a set of projects established to rethink, redesign and reinterpret our relationship with the cultural heritage of both areas. Not only in the historic centres, but also along routes leading away from the cities which have a lot to offer.

●    "The City of Invention" - a series of projects in which companies and representative associations, chambers of commerce and universities – along with arts and cultural institutions – will aim to showcase local innovation in the fields of design and manufacturing. 

“STEP OUT OF YOUR BUBBLE”: THE BERGAMO-BRESCIA 2023 EVENTS PROGRAMME

The slogan “Step out of your bubble” is an invitation to explore new places off the beaten track and outside the digital media echo chamber. The year 2023 in Bergamo and Brescia has plenty of surprises on offer with new museums, new projects and new exhibitions.

Kicking off the celebrations will be the inaugural ceremony for both cities, scheduled for 20, 21 and 22 January 2023, which will be followed by The Festival of Lights in both Brescia and Bergamo, organised by A2A. This will see cities transformed into open-air art galleries, with light shows enhancing some of the most symbolic sites of the Capital of Culture: in Bergamo a pathway between the upper and lower parts of the city, and in Brescia the Castle and the archaeological area. 

Exceptional exhibitions have been on display for visitors since the early months of the year at the GAMeC, the Accademia Carrara and the Museo delle Storie di Bergamo, as well as at Palazzo Martinengo and the Fondazione Brescia Musei: from the works of Cecco del Caravaggio and Giacomo Ceruti to 'transartistic' photography projects. Not to mention the inauguration of the New Museum of the Risorgimento in Brescia Castle.

While historical events will present interrelated special editions – such as the Mille Miglia, the Opera Festival at Teatro Grande and the Donizetti Opera Festival – there will also be plenty of music and theatre events involving both cities. As for music, you can look forward to the International Piano Festival of Brescia and Bergamo and the Jazz City Project. As far as theatre is concerned, the concert season in the main theatres will propose new opera productions by leading composers. 

Beyond the customary venues, Bergamo-Brescia 2023 will also see various cultural events unfold in stations, squares and districts on the outskirts of the city.

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