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Via Priula

From the Orobie to the hills of Bergamo Alta.

In 1593, the Venetian Podesta, Alvise Priuli, ordered the construction of a route that would connect the Po Valley with Valtellina and beyond the Alps: Via Priula, a route of great political and strategic importance that enabled the city of Venice to be connected with the passes of Spluga and Settimo, belonging to the Grigioni, without crossing the territory of the Duchy of Milan.

In those times, the Venetian republic, ruler of the entire province of Bergamo,
needed to develop new trade links with the territories in the north. Until that time,
the connections between the two areas were complicated and, to transport goods, it was
necessary to skirt the mountain chain of the Bergamo Alps through Lecco and Lake Como
in the land of the Duchy of Milan, then a Spanish possession in open competition with
the Republic of Venice.

The enormous duties and the risk the goods would be seized en route were the main
reasons for the construction of the Via Priula.
With the opening of this new route, which lay at an altitude of 1991 metres between the
municipalities of Mezzoldo and Albaredo per San Marco, the Republic of Venice boosted
trade relations with the countries beyond the Alps, Germany and Flanders.

Following the Via Priulia today, it is possible to reach Bergamo on foot from Chiavenna
through the valley floor of the Valchiavenna, the Pian Si Spagna, the Bassa Valtellina,
the Valle del Bitto di Albaredo and Val Brembana, or the other way, of course.
This is a long route, a version of which can be covered by bicycle, which gives a cross-section of the Alpine world of Lombardy, filled with monuments, culture, gastronomic specialities, welcoming inns and hotels.

Part of the route follows the ancient mule trails, especially in the mountainous part; in the valley, there are mostly paved roads, tracks for cyclists and pedestrians and other paths.
The entire trip is undertaken over several days, for a total of around 140 kilometres.
The routes crosses the Passo San Marco, where the road reaches an altitude of 2,000 metres;there is an old roadman’s house and a memorial
stone along the paved road.

The old track was replaced 40 years ago by the Transorobica, so-called because it crosses
the Orobic Alps and foothills. A great deal of evidence survives, however, in the names of
the places, the roads and the buildings.
The large covered porticos along the main road of the town recall the time when merchants stopped here, unloading their pack mules and horses and making their goods secure.
A varied route that elicits careful observation and serious reflection on the action of mankind in transforming the landscape.

5 reasons to cover the route

1. A route and a road from long ago that recalls the efforts of our ancestors in following this walk, rich in panoramas and unrivalled emotions.

2. The Duomo of Bergamo, in the city square of the same name, Piazza del Duomo. The cathedral, dedicated to the city’s patron saint, Sant’Alessandro Martire, was built over an earlier original building of the 6th century dedicated to San Vincenzo, and has
three naves in canonical orientation.

3. The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in the heart of the historic city of Bergamo. The exterior of the basilica, built in the second half of the 12th century, has a typically Romanesque appearance, while the decorations inside recall the Baroque style.
The church was commissioned by citizens of Bergamo as a votive offering so that the
Madonna would end a long period of drought.

4. Visit Upper Bergamo for unexpected views, hidden courtyards, flavours and utterly uniquepanoramas.

5. 600 works of art magnificently exhibited in 28 rooms… these are the numbers from the
Carrara Academy after 7 years of restoration, an artistic journey through 5 centuries of the history of Italian art.

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