Bergamo, Piazza Vecchia
A jewel of renaissance architecture, Piazza Vecchia is still today Bergamo's "salotto", and vigilantly protected from all traffic. It was planned and built in the XVth century, and can be considered as the first step towards the building of the Città Alta as the artistic and cultural centre of Bergamo, handing over its economic and business activities to the Città Bassa.
Situated in the centre of the square is the Fontana, presented to the city by the Venetian Podestà in 1780. The north-east side is taken up by the Palazzo Nuovo, housing the Civic Library. The building has preserved its harmonious Renaissance appearance, despite the fact that renovation work has taken place on several occasions. The beautiful loggia was originally adorned with painted decorations. On the north-west side can be seen the Palazzo del Podestà, dating back to the XIVth century. At the time the square was built, Bramante was given the task of painting frescoes on the façade. The frescoes are now conserved inside the Palazzo della Ragione, which was renovated at the time when the square bearing the same name was built. In fact, the side looking onto the new square was turned into a façade (originally facing onto the adjoining Piazza del Duomo) Clearly visible, on the side of the Palazzo della Ragione, is the Torre Civica, or Campanone, an example of a medieval civic bell-tower. In the XIIIth century it was equipped with a very large bell, which was rung to announce the meetings of the Town Council. This function still takes place today, and the bell also still rings out the hours for the people of Bergamo, with 12 tolls at noon and the "all clear" at 22.00 hours, with 100 consecutive tolls.