Italian Capital of Culture 2023: Bergamo Brescia, “The illuminated city”

In 2023, the cities of Bergamo and Brescia will live in unison as Italian Capital of Culture. A project born to relaunch the two cities after the dramatic experience of the pandemic thanks to the determination of the two mayors, Giorgio Gori and Emilio Del Bono, to make culture a broader instrument of cohesion.

Brescia. Bergamo. Two large and beautiful cities in northern Italy. Two poles of a single metropolitan area with more than 2 million inhabitants, recognized in Italy and in Europe for their cultural heritage, their entrepreneurial history, their level of well-being and the quality of public and private investments, but also for their tradition of solidarity and attention to the needs of people and communities.

From this month of January, the Bergamo Brescia Italian Capital of Culture 2023 project will unfold like a laboratory for new practices and new forms of collaboration between cultural institutions, companies, the administration and the voluntary sector. “The Italian Capital of Culture 2023 represents for Bergamo and Brescia an opportunity for rebirth – after the dramatic experience of the pandemic – in the name of culture, beauty and the discovery of the unexpected”, said Giorgio Gori, the mayor of Bergamo.


The festivities will officially begin on January 20, 21 and 22 with opening ceremonies in each city. From January 21, Brescia will offer an exhibition entitled “Lotto, Romanino, Moretto, Ceruti. I campioni della pittura a Brescia e Bergamo »while the Pinacoteca Carrara in Bergamo will present to the general public the new layout of its spaces on January 26 with the inauguration of the largest retrospective ever dedicated to “Cecco del Caravaggio, the most mysterious of Caravaggio’s pupils and models”. Programming will continue in February with “Festa delle Luci” (Brescia from February 10 to 19; in Bergamo from February 17 to 26). In March the opera will be honored with, in Bergamo “The Donizetti Night 2023” which will transform the face of the city around a hundred events bringing together nearly 500 artists, and in Brescia on June 9 and 10 for the twelfth edition of “The Festival of the Opera” with 70 musical events in more than 50 different places. In April, make way for music with the Festival Pianistico Internazionale di Brescia and Bergamo on the 28th and 29th. The theater will also be present at the Teatro Grande di Brescia which will welcome artists from all over the world, great choreographers and conductors, as well as young talents, with the opening, Madame Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini under the direction of one of the greatest Italian baguettes, Maestro Riccardo Frizza. The season will also take place in Bergamo at the Teatro Donizetti and in the other theaters of the city.

The territory of Bergamo and Brescia, strongly characterized by mountainous landscapes, will be celebrated through several photography exhibitions, including the exhibition Luci della Montagna which will bring together the works of three great international names (Ansel Adams known for his black and white shots of American national parks, Martin Chambi, for his ethnographic photographs of the Andes and Vittorio Sella, one of the greatest mountain photographers). From the summer, routes will link the two cities: “Il camino” will offer a pedestrian route in 37 cultural and “La Ciclovia” on the same principle but by bike with no less than 27 municipalities concerned.

A particularly neat and articulated, rich and eclectic program to promote both cultural and natural heritage. “In agreement with Bergamo, we immediately designed the Capital of Culture without an artistic director but trying to stimulate the creativity and liveliness of our territories, not just of the two cities”says Laura Castelletti, deputy mayor of Brescia.

Many other initiatives will enliven the program and will make Bergamo and Brescia in 2023 essential destinations for Italian and foreign visitors looking for new experiences and discoveries.

@hozinja | Wikimedia Commons

The reasons for an unprecedented choice

Confirmed in July 2020, the nomination of Bergamo and Brescia as Italian Capital of Culture for the year 2023 was motivated by the Italian government to respond positively to a proposal made by the two cities, united in the desire to “Grow Together – precisely in the most dramatic period of the pandemic experience.
A recognition of the history of the two cities, of their artistic and cultural heritage, of their ability to regenerate, to project themselves effectively into a present fact of construction, work, solidarity and innovation.

The candidacy, carried out through a process unique in its kind in Italy of “participatory planning” based on practices of collective intelligence and co-creation, received the support of public actors (Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Tourism, Lombardy Region, Province of Bergamo and Province of Brescia) and private (A2A, Banca Intesa San Paolo, Brembo). The result gave rise to the “Bergamo Brescia Italian Capital of Culture 2023 File: La città illuminata” presented in Milan at the beginning of 2022 and which expressed the capacity of the two cities to propose a cultural planning that can go beyond traditional borders to integrate to the themes of well-being, sustainable development and innovation around four themes:
– “The city of hidden treasures”, where paths diverge from historic centers to form a common heritage inviting discovery and wonder;
– “The natural city” where the relationship of individuals, communities and companies with natural resources is rethought through forms of housing, forms of consumption, transport systems, but also urban production activities;
– “The city that invents” to promote the innovation capacity of companies and their representative bodies, universities, as well as technical, artistic and cultural institutions;
– “Culture as an antidote” where culture proves to be a tool for prevention and socialization, which acts on the well-being of individuals, through the processes of inclusion and acceptance for the construction of community relations.

Bergamo Brescia Italian Capital of Culture 2023 constitutes both the testimony and the promise of a possible rebirth through the choice of culture, as a tourist attraction but also, and above all, as a central element in civil training, in the creation skills, work and social and economic stability.

The project represents the first major experiment in cultural policy, on a national scale, aimed at supporting the growth of a territory while taking an interest in its economic, industrial and social development. It will undoubtedly lead the two cities to position themselves on the map of “European culture”.

United by a common vision that underlies the concept of La città illuminataBergamo and Brescia will undoubtedly offer many initiatives that will lead well beyond 2023.

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Italian Capital of Culture 2023: Bergamo Brescia, “The illuminated city”